Aussie Beach Bum Cookies

Happy (belated) Australia Day! I hope all you Aussies had a great long weekend and celebrated with some snags on the barbie, a meat pie and a pav! If you are not an Aussie, you should definitely still celebrate with some snags on the barbie, a meat pie and a pav – or make some of these super cute and cheeky beach bum cookies to embrance your inner Australian! I saw these cookies on Pinterest a while ago, and just had to make them – they are too cute! They are really easy to make and decorate too.
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This recipe is once again from the fantastic Sweetapolita – they are basically the vanilla version of the Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Gingerbread Buttercream that I made for Christmas. I halved the recipe, and I still had close to 50 cookies, so if you do not want that many, you could simply halve it again. You can put any flavour you like in the cookies as well. I was loyal to the recipe and kept the vanilla bean with a touch of lemon, but you could use any type of extract or oil really, such as Strawberry, Orange, or even Musk.
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Vanilla Sugar Cookies: (adapted from Sweetapolita – this post has a great tutorial on making sugar cookies, too!)
  • 1 cup butter – softened, not melted
  • 1 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups (approx.) icing sugar mixture
  • Water
  • Cachous and sprinkles, to decorate
  • Colouring gels

Preheat the oven to 160c fan forced, 170c non fan forced. Line 4 oven trays with baking paper, and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. Sift flour and salt in a separate bowl, and gradually stir, with a wooden spoon, into the butter and sugar mixture. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth – keep adding flour in very small amounts if dough is still sticky. Divide dough into two batches, wrap tightly in cling wrap, and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Once dough is chilled, roll it out with a rolling pin, between two sheets of baking paper, until the dough is just under 1cm thick. With a heart shaped cookie cutter, carefully cut the shapes from the dough and place on the baking paper. When you have a full tray, gently and quickly cut the bottoms of the hearts off with a sharp, non-cerated knife. You don’t want to use a cerated bread and butter knife because it’s not sharp enough, and will cut a rough edge, rather than a clean edge. The only thing I would do differently when I make these again, would be to get a larger cookie cutter and cut off more from the bottom of the heart, so that they look like bigger, rounder bums!! Bake cookies in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes – make sure you check at 10 minutes! TIP – Don’t wait until the cookies begin to go brown – once the edges a even a tiny bit brown, the biscuits will be that overcooked you could nearly break your teeth on them! Make sure all the cookies are still completely ‘blonde.’ Let the cookies cool completely on the trays or wire racks until completely cool – you don’t want the icing to melt off!

 Cookies

To make the icing, combine icing sugar mixture with a tiny amount of water to make a paste. You can make as many or as little colours as you like – three was enough for me. Add a little of the colouring gel and a small amount of vanilla and stir until combined. Place icing in a piping bag fitted with a realllllllly small round nozzle. If you don’t have one, never fear! You can use a snap lock bag and cut the corner off. Decorate the cookies by piping different shapes and colours of underwear! G-Strings are the easiest to do 😛 The icing dries really quickly, so decorate the cookies as you go.

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I can’t believe it is the end of January already, it seemed like only yesterday it was Christmas! Happy belated Australia Day, and I’ll see you in February 🙂 Also, check out my music player on the side of the page, I will putting up some of my favourite songs for you to listen to when you come and visit!

Salted Caramel Bejewelled Profiteroles

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know how much I absolutely adore salted caramel. I have made choux pastry for eclairs twice before – once when we added 2 tablespoons of salt to the mixture (yes, that’s what the crazy recipe said!), and the other time, I undercooked them and they looked like little sunken balls of pancake. So, logically, I decided I would give them another go for Christmas Day lunch. Ta da 🙂

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Profiteroles

They worked! Thank goodness they did, because the world probably would have ended if they hadn’t. Once again, Taste.com certainly did not let me down, and I will definitely be using this recipe many times over. I already have used it since actually, and the result was just as great. So many people seem to think that choux pastry is a difficult thing to get right, and it can be if you get a little confused or don’t follow the recipe word for word, which can be really easy to do. If you are going to give this recipe a go, make sure to sit down and read it through before you make it – and understand each step. Otherwise, not only can it be really dishearteneing, it’s also a waste of quality ingredients and money 😦 The good news is though, once you do understand the recipe and know what to do from experience, your cooking will be much better for it 🙂 There’s my words of wisdom for the day!

Profiteroles1

Here is the recipe for Choux Pastry. The only part is, it definitely does not make 25-30 profiteroles like it says. It makes 18 at most, so if you want more, simply double the recipe.

Choux pastry

Before and after

Caramel Maison: (from p. 242 of Adriano Zumbo’s book, Zumbo):

•220g pouring (whipping) cream (35% fat)
•1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
•120g water (this is just under 1 cup)
•300g caster (white) sugar
•60g liquid glucose (available at most supermarkets)

Place the cream and vanilla in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Then, remove from the heat, and remove the vanilla bean if you are using one. In the meantime, place the water, sugar and glucose in a larger saucepan over a low-medium heat and cook until the glucose and sugar are fully dissolved, stirring occasionally. Zumbo’s says to use a clean pastry brush dipped in water to clean the sides of the saucepan in order to avoid crystalisation, however you can also just place the saucepan in really hot water with suds just after use and the sugar will melt off really easily. Increase the heat to medium, and cook the sugar mixture until it reaches a dark amber colour. This does take quite a while, and I was getting worried that mine would not work, but persistence is key here, it will eventually darken after 6-7 minutes. Very carefully stir the cream mixture into the sugar mixture slowly – be very careful because it spits and releases lot of heat. I found the best way to do this was with a spoon with a very long handle, as you want to keep your face as far away from the saucepan whilst it is spitting. If you don’t have a spoon with a super long handle, just add the cream really slowly and try to stir as best you can! Keep stirring as much as you can until the caramel settles down, then stir until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl, let it cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Making the caramel

Caramel Buttercream: (this recipe is on page 42 of Zumbo’s cookbook)
•150g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
•300g caramel maison
•4.5g sea salt flakes

Place the butter in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Warm the caramel maison in the microwave until it reaches a pouring consistency (mine needed 1 min, 20 seconds on high as it was in the fridge overnight), however, just warm it in stages to prevent burning the caramel. With the beater running slowly, add the caramel maison to the butter and continue mixing until thick. Once I had added about half of my caramel, I got a bit worried because it looked like it was curdling, however as I kept adding the caramel, it began to thicken up. So don’t freak out until you have added all of the caramel to the butter. Once you have added all of the caramel, fold in the salt. I did not measure my salt, as I used a shaker. So if you too are using a shaker, just salt to taste.

Assembly:

Place the caramel in piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle. Gently pierce the bottom of the profiteroles with piping nozzle, so that the nozzle itself is inside the profiterole. Squeeze bag until profiterole feels heavier in your hand, and the caramel is slightly coming out of the profiterole. Gently scrape the profiterole on the edge of a bowl to get rid of the excess caramel. Repeat with other profiteroles. If you are not eating them straight away, refrigerate them until they are ready to serve.

Profits

You can decorate the profiteroles however you wish! You can see that in both cases I dipped mine in melted chocolate, and sprinkled them with gold edible glitter and cachous. For the ones with the white chocolate, I added some caramel popcorn dipped in chocolate. Yum!

NYE profiteroles

Yum!

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Best of 2012!

Here is a collection of photos that sums up the best foodie moments of 2012. I have loved every minute of delving into the blogging world, and cannot wait to continue next year 🙂 HNY!

Macarons:

Macarons

Macarons1

Macarons2

Macarons3

Cakes:

 

Cakes1

Cakes2

Cakes3

Cakes4

 

Bits and Pieces:

 

Pizza making class, High Tea with Zumbo, myself with Gary Mehigan

Pizza making class, High Tea with Zumbo, myself with Gary Mehigan

 

Homemade Ravioli and Gnocchi, Curries cooking class on a boat, Sipping cocktails at Sea Links Resort in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

Homemade Ravioli and Gnocchi, Curries cooking class on a boat, Sipping cocktails at Sea Links Resort in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

 

Treats from Little Cupcakes and La Belle Miette, Pasta and Black Risotto at Grossi Florentino, Homemade dumplings

Treats from Little Cupcakes and La Belle Miette, Pasta and Black Risotto at Grossi Florentino, Homemade dumplings

 

Homemade Caramel Ice Cream, Homemade Apple Pie, Sipping sparking in the Yarra Valley, making Neil Perry's Mac and Cheese.

Homemade Caramel Ice Cream, Homemade Apple Pie, Sipping sparking in the Yarra Valley, making Neil Perry’s Mac and Cheese.

 

Chocolate Dumplings and Custard Buns at Yum Cha @ David's, Prahran.

Chocolate Dumplings and Custard Buns at Yum Cha @ David’s, Prahran.

 

Melted Snowmen Shortbread, Candy Cane Macarons, Dessert @ Malvern Hotel, Salted Caramel Profiteroles.

Melted Snowmen Shortbread, Candy Cane Macarons, Dessert @ Malvern Hotel, Salted Caramel Profiteroles.

 

Happy New Year! 🙂 Xo

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Gingerbread Buttercream

I have seen a couple of fellow bloggers make these super-cute cookies lately, and I have really wanted to try making them myself too, especially since the recipe is from the wonderful Sweetapolita! These cookies most definitely lived up to my expectation. Not only were they soooooo yummy, but they were really easy to make and even with halving the recipe, I still had 40 sandwiched cookies!
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Another thing I love about these cookies is that you can do anything with them. You can leave them plain, just decorate them or fill them. I decided on the previous two. My blogging buddy Sugabuttacream filled hers with espresso buttercream, which would be great to try as well. Gingerbread buttercream is definitely one of my favourites around Christmas time, it is so yummy and easy to make, plus it keeps really well and the flavour tends to develop over a couple of days.
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Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies: (recipe adapted from Sweetapolita – makes 40 sandwiched cookies, 80 single cookies)
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup good quality cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225g butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
Sift flour, salt and cocoa into a bowl and set aside. Place butter and sugars in bowl, and beat until pale and creamy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat well until combined. Stir in dry ingredients until mixure forms a dough.
On a floured surface, knead half of the dough until it becomes smooth. Shape into a ball. If you want to use dough straight away, refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you are using it in a few days time, freeze the dough. Remove from freezer 2-3 before use and leave it to thaw at room temperature. Repeat kneading with other half of mixture.
Preheat oven to 160c, and line 4-5 oven trays with baking paper. Place one ball of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper. With a rolling pin, roll dough out until it is about 1cm thick. With a cookie cutter, cut shapes out from the dough and carefully place them on baking paper. When tray is filled place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are just slightly soft. Let them cool on trays, then place on a wire rack.
Choc Sugar Cookies
Sugar Icing (for decorating):
  • Icing sugar, about 1 1/2 cups
  • Water
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, green
As per the icing I used for the Melted Snowmen, I didn’t really use exact measurements. I combined icing sugar and water until it became a thick paste, then added the green colouring. With a piping bag fitted with a very thin round nozzle, I piped around the edges of the trees, and added a few gold and silver cachous as the decorations. The icing dries really quickly, so add the cachous as you go.
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Gingerbread Buttercream:
  • 350g salted butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 1 1/2-2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
Beat butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar and other spices. If you only want a hint of the spices, you could add bit less, and if you want a strong hit of ginger, you can add more. You can just keep tasting, but these quantities, for me, are just the right balance 🙂 If you are not using the buttercream until the following the day or after, refrigerate, then take out of the fridge an hour before use. As mentioned earlier, I personally like to make it a couple of days in advance because the flavour of the spices tend to develop. Place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe 2 lines of buttercream down the middle of the tree biscuit, then sandwich with another. You can either refrigerate the cookies, or leave them in a cool, dry place.
Piping...
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, I can’t believe it’s all over for another year! It’s sad but also kind of a relief at the same time. Here are some of the yummy things my family had on Christmas Day (minus the oysters – ew!!).
Christmas Day
January the 1st also marks whiskitforabiscuit’s first birthday – so thank you to everybody who has supported my baking endeavours throughout the past year by coming to visit my site! It is slowly growing in terms of views and followers, which is really exciting to see, so please feel free to comment, like and follow – it would be greatly appreciated! So thank you all so much, and I sincerely hope you come back to say hi in the new year 🙂 Xx
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Choc-Mint Candy Cane Macarons

I do love the combination of chocolate and peppermint. Bittersweet dark chocolate with a cool minty kick made these macarons quite the tasty ones. They were somewhat a tribute to the humble candy cane, which is definitely one of my favourite Christmas treats. I realllly wanted to make these macarons into a candy cane shape, but it didn’t work for me this time 😦 I overcooked the shells for one, and piped them all the same way – which was fine until I needed to sandwich them together…silly! I think I will try it again though, now that I know what not to do. I’d love to try some gingerbread men shapes as well, but knowing my luck they would turn out like lumpy pancake men. Yum!

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Macarons:

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
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, Red (I used ‘Rojo Intenso’)

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray baround the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 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, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

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 flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the cocoa now. 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. With a skewer or a cake tester, spread 3 or 4 lines of the colouring along the sides of the bag. Spoon mixture into the 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 $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.

This is how it's done!

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 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Yum!

Choc-Mint Ganache:

  • 100g good quality dark chocolate (I use Green and Black’s 70%)
  • 1/2 thickened cream
  • 1/2 tsp natural peppermint extract (available from most supermarkets)

Place chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir with metal spoon until melted. Stir in the peppermint extract. Pour into bowl and let cool. Refrigerate until firm enough to pipe or until when you need to use. If you are leaving the ganache in the fridge overnight, it may need 10 seconds in the microwave to be pliable enough to pipe.

Candy cane goodness...

To assemble, match up likely macaron pairs. Spoon ganache into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, and pipe small rounds of ganache onto a shell, then sandwich with another. Yum!

Deliciously Christmassy!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season so far, I cannot believe how quickly it has come! I think the best part of this time of the year is definitely the food, surprise, surprise! Although, it’s a scary reminder of how much I have to cook and bake before next Tuesday – luckily most of my shopping is done!

Happy Baking 🙂 X

Melted Snowmen Shortbread

Wow. What a crazy busy few weeks it has been! I cannot believe I haven’t baked anything Christmassy until now, I had so much planned to do in the last couple of weeks, but I always seem to be way too ambitious when Christmas baking is concerned. So, here we are – shortbread on the 13th of December! They are certianly no culinary masterpieces, but it is great shortbread though, even if I say so myself. And they are quite cute. And this is exactly what would happen if we could make snowmen at Christmas in Australia.

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Homemade shortbread has always been one of my favourites around Christmas time, and this is actually the first time I have properly made it myself (you can probably tell – they are far from consistent!). I used a Taste.com recipe, surprise, surprise, and it was awesome – really buttery and melted in your mouth. One of the things I love about shortbread is that it is sooo easy to make. It has 5 ingredients that would usually be in your pantry anyway. The dough is pretty tasty, too. Tasty enough that we probably lost a snowman or two due to my severe lack of self-control when it comes to dough.

Yummy

Shortbread: (recipe adapted from Taste.com) Makes 18 large snowmen.

  • 250g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup cornflour

Preheat oven to 160c. Line 3 oven trays with baking paper. Beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the flours and stir to combine. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth. If you find the dough too sticky, just add a bit more flour when kneading. Wrap the dough tightly in cling wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Cut dough in half, and roll out with a rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper, until the dough is about 1-1/2cm thick. With a ring mould, or a round cookie cutter, cut circles out from the dough and place them on the baking trays. Cook for 20-25 minutes. The shortbread should not be too ‘blonde’ as they would say on Masterchef! I tried to take mine out just as they were beginning to go a tiny bit golden. Let cool on trays for 15-20 minutes.

Shortbread!

Turning the shortbread into Melted Snowmen:

  • 18 white marshmallows
  • Silver cachous
  • Orange sprinkles
  • Icing sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Water
  • Vanilla bean paste
  • Edible black pen (these are fantastic, I bought mine from Baking Pleasures)

To be honest, I didn’t measure out the ingredients in the icing. I used a small-medium bowl, and started off with approx. 1/2 cup icing sugar, and probably 2 tsp of water. Mix the sugar and water together, then add the vanilla and lemon juice. It needs to be fairly thick, but still spreadable enough to move around on the shortbread. It should be this consistency. and should be well balanced with vanilla and lemon 🙂 This icing dries really quickly, so keep giving a stir every now and then.

Like this...

Draw faces on the marshmallows, I made them sad and confused, as they had just endured a serious heatwave!

 

Place a wire rack on top of some paper towel. Pour a teaspoon of icing onto the shortbread, and spread out to make it look as though the icing is dripping off the sides. Place a marshmallow on the shortbread, and 2 or 3 silver cachous in front if the marshmallow. Push an orange sprinkle into the marshmallow for the nose. Yum!

Heatwave...

These cute, sad little snowmen are great for the kids to make. They are really easy and fun to decorate 🙂 Plus, the shortbread tastes really good, too. Enjoy, and stay tuned for some more Christmas baking goodness 🙂 X

 

 

Spiderweb Macarons with Pumpkin Buttercream

As usual, I am behind with these babies, so Happy belated Halloween to you all! I can’t say I’ve ever really gone all out to celebrate Halloween, as it’s not huge here in Australia, but I’ll take any excuse to bake and make something a little left of centre 🙂 For so long, I have wanted to try making something sweet with pumpkin, so I thought Halloween would be the perfect occasion, coupled with some spooky spiderwebs!

These were originally meant to be Pumpkin Pie Macarons, and I was going to make the filling of the pie for the centre, and place a layer of shortcrust pastry in the middle. Although, surprise, surprise, I struggled with time, and I had trouble finding a recipe with no egg (as I wouldn’t cook the centre), that wouldn’t be too runny. So, I decided on a buttercream. I really like this buttercream, as the pumpkin is really subtle, and you get a hint of cinnamon too.

Macarons:

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
  • ¼ tsp Wilton’s colouring gel, orange

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray baround the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 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, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

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 flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring now. 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 $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench 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 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Pumpkin Buttercream:

  • 215g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Place chopped pumpkin in a small saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Cook over a medium heat until pumpkin is soft enough to mash with a fork. In the meantime, beat the butter until it is pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the sugar to taste (I used about 1 1/2 cups, but taste as you go, depends on how sweet you like your buttercream). Add the salt and cinnamon. Gradually add the cooled, mashed pumpkin to the buttercream. My pumpkin was still a little lumpy, and I was going to put it through a sieve, but I thought tiny flecks of orange would look good through the buttercream.

Spiderweb Icing:

  • 4-5 tbs icing sugar mixture
  • 1/2 tsp Wilton’s colouring gel, black
  • Splash of water

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until a thick paste is formed, and icing is completely black. You may need to add a little more colouring.

Assembly:

Pair up likely macaron shells. To pipe the spiderwebs, place the black icing in a piping bag fitted with a very thin, round nozzle. I stupidly forgot to take photos as I was piping the spiderwebs :/ If you would like to know how, this video is a good tutorial. The way the video shows you is a little different to mine, but it will achieve a fairly similar result 🙂 The black icing dries very quickly. FYI – you could also use melted chocolate to make spiderwebs as well. To pipe the buttercream, fill a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe about 2/3 tsp of buttercream on each macaron shell, and sandwich with another.

Hope you all had a Happy horrifying, hair-raising Halloween! X

Hot Cross Macs with a Spiced Buttercream and Candied Orange Peel

Happy Easter everyone! I seriously cannot believe it is this time of the year already. It only seems like yesterday that Easter Eggs were going on sale at the end of December! I have been wanting to create a Hot Cross Bun inspired macaron for a while now, but have not had the time…so here we finally are! I do love a good Hot Cross Bun, however I am pretty partial to the Choc Chip ones that everybody seems to sell these days, too 😛 I was really happy with how these babies turned out, the flavour of the spices isn’t too intense, and the candied peel adds a traditional hot cross bun element and a fruity kick!

Macarons:

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
  • 1/2 tsp good quality cocoa

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 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, thick, 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 flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the cocoa now. 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 $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. 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.

Candied Orange Peel: 

  • 1 orange, peeled, then cut into small 1cm thick batons
  • 1/2 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Extra cold water

Cover orange peel in a small saucepan with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, then drain well. Repeat this process. Once peel has been drained for the second time, place again in saucepan, with the water and the sugar. Cook over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil, and cook, sitrring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until the peel is tender and translucent. Transfer peel to a wire rack with a fork, and cool completely.

Spiced Buttercream:

  • 175g salted butter, softened, not melted
  • 2 cups soft icing sugar mixture
  • 1 1/2 tsp Mixed Spice (you may want more, so just taste as you go!)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger

Beat butter until pale and creamy (2-4 minutes). Gradually add the icing sugar and spices, you can add the sugar to taste as well if you like. Sometimes I don’t add the whole 2 cups of sugar. Buttercream should be slightly brown from the spices, and if you follow my quantities, it will be fairly subtle.

Icing for the crosses:

  • 1/4 cup icing sugar mixture
  • 2 tsp water

Combine sugar and water until a thick paste is formed. Spoon in a small snap lock bag, and cut off a tiny part of one of the bottom corners. Gently pipe 2 straight lines to form a cross on top of one macaron shell of each biscuit.

Assembly:

Pair up matching macaron shell combinations. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Gently pipe half a teaspoon of buttercream onto a shell, and top with one or two pieces of candied orange peel.

Pipe another half teaspoon on top of the peel, and sandwhich with another shell.

These are seiruously yummy, and a great alternative if you find hot cross buns too intense in flavour, which many can be. Enjoy, and Happy Easter!