Whilst this cake/macaron combo turned out relatively well in the end, it wasn’t what I originally set out to do. It was my Dad and Nanna’s birthdays and I envisioned this amazing sky high macaron tower as the centrepiece of the dinner table. Unfortunately, that was not to be L I began assembling the tower, and all was going well until I got about half way up, and they all started falling off. Boo L What to do with 30 half butchered macarons? Time for Plan B!
I didn’t actually make the cake part myself – Mum did! It’s a pretty simple and really nice chocolate cake, and we just jazzed it up a bit. So we made some salted caramel to smother inbetween the cake, and some chocolate ganache to cover the whole cake with.
As my Musk Layer Cake looked great with the macarons standing on top, I decided to do the same with this one. Although I had so many macarons that I fully covered the top of the cake, as well as the sides. I had a bit of trouble making the macarons stick to the ganache, hence the millions of skewers in the photos. If I was doing this again, I would probably make the ganache the day before to make sure it is really thick.
It was yummy, although this chocolate cake is quite light and more of a sponge cake. A richer, more of a mud style cake would also work really well, and this chocolate cupcake recipe from Taste.com is pretty awesome – just bake in a round tin instead of a cupcake tin.
Mum’s Chocolate Cake: (we doubled the recipe and made 2 cakes)
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 tbs cocoa
- 2 eggs
- 3 drops vanilla extract
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup milk
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
For the ganache:
- 200g chocolate (we used half dark, half milk), chopped
- 1 cup cream
For the caramel, boil can of condensed milk for 2 ½ – 3 hours. To make the ganache, combine chocolate and cream in a saucepan until melted and smooth. Let it set in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
Preheat oven to 190c (180c fan forced). Grease and line a round or ring baking tin. Place cocoa, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, sugar and milk in a large bowl. Melt butter and pour over all the other ingredients. Beat for about three minutes, or until well combined. Pour mixture into tin, and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin for 5 minutes and turn onto a wire rack.
Once the caramel is done, let the can cool down then pour contents into a bowl. Add 2/3 tsp salt flakes and stir to combine. With a round edged knife or spatula, spread a thick layer of caramel on top of one of the cakes, preferably while it is still warm.
Sandwich the other cake on top. Once ganache is set, gently cover the cake with a round edged knife, or a spatula. The ganache will probably drip a little bit down the sides of the cake.
Gently push the edge of macarons onto the edges and the outside of the cake. I had a few problems with my ganache being a bit too runny and the macarons falling off occasionally. However, as I said before, I think if you make the ganache a day ahead, it would be a lot thicker and you may not have that problem.
Macarons: (obviously I made 2 separate batches for this recipe)
This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.
- 135g almond meal
- 135g icing sugar
- 125g caster sugar
- 45g egg whites
- 50g egg whites
- 40g water
- Food colouring and flavouring (optional) In the pistachio ones I used a tiny bit of Wilton’s colouring gel, and in the Salted Caramel, half a tsp of cocoa.
Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Line three oven trays with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 4 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until it is hot and syrupy (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If white, powdery bubbles begin to form around the edges, start again!
Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add colouring/flavouring, now’s your moment. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $5. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 4-5cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier(I usually make them smaller, about 3cm, but I thought bigger ones would look better on top of the cake). Gently tap the bottom of the trays and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.
Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons.
Macaron fillings and toppings:
Choc-Orange and Pistachio – crush a teaspoon of pistachio nuts in the food processor or with a mortar and pestle and sprinkle on top just after macarons have been piped onto the baking trays. For the filling, combine 100g of good quality dark chocolate, ½ cup of cream and the zest of half of an orange in a saucepan until smooth. Let it set in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Fill macarons with a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and pipe half a teaspoon on the macaron, sandwiching it with another.
Salted Caramel – Boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for 2 ½ to 3 hours to make the caramel.When the can has cooled down, pour into a bowl and add 2/3 tsp of salt (sea salt flakes are best)and stir to combine. Spoon ½ teaspoon of caramel onto a macaron and sandwich with another.
So, whilst it wasn’t what I was hoping to do, it didn’t turn out too bad at all 🙂