Lavender and Blueberry Macarons

I came across this flavour combination flicking through Zumbo’s ‘Zumbarons’ book, and at first, I wasn’t really sold. I can’t say I’ve ever really been a fan of the smell of lavender, and the thought of eating it, ergh. However, I first thought the same thing about the Vegemite Macarons, another genius brainchild of Zumbo’s, and I really loved them. So, I thought I would give them a go, and it turns out, they aren’t so bad after all!

Lavender and Blueberry Macarons

Zumbo’s ganache recipe calls for white chocolate, however, I boldly decided to change things up a little! I decided to make a buttercream instead of a ganache, I’m not entirely sure why I decided to do this, but it worked, I think. I put as little sugar as possible into the blueberry jam, to counteract the sweetness of the buttercream, and with  little bit of salt with the butter, it was nice. I literally used like three drops of lavender oil because I was so worried it would be too strong. The idea of eating flowers doesn’t really excite me. Three drops was definitely enough. Enough to get the aroma of the lavender, with the hit of blueberry and sweetness of the macaron shell. Would I make them again? Maybe, if they were requested, but other than that, probably not. It would be interesting to taste the white chocolate ganache version, though. And, yay! For awesome shells.

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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
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, violet
  • Food colouring liquid, blue

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, 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. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, 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

Place all of the macaron shells on wire racks. My needed two. Place paper towel underneath, so your kitchen bench does not come into contact with the blue colouring. Place approximately 15 drops of the blue liquid colouring in small dish. Gently dip a pastry brush in the colouring and lightly flick the macaron shells, resulting in the blue dots like my shells have. Leave shells to dry – this won’t take long.

Splashed

 

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.

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Lavender Buttercream:

  • 100g salted butter, softened, not melted
  • 3 drops lavender oil (edible, of course – FYI, I bought mine from http://www.bakingpleasures.com.au)
  • 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar

Beat the butter until pale and creamy (about 5 minutes). Gradually add the icing sugar and beat until well combined. You can add as much sugar as you like, really. It depends on how sweet you like your buttercream. Add the lavender oil – you can always add more to taste.

Blueberry Jam:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup caster (white, granulated) sugar
  • 2 tbs water

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat on medium until mixture begins to boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer until thick. Pour into a bowl, and let it cool completely. If you are not using immediately, store jam in the fridge once it has cooled.

Assembly:

Pair up likely macaron shells. Place lavender buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe round onto one shell, and spoon a very small amount of blueberry jam on top of the buttercream. Sandwich together. Store in airtight container in the fridge. Bring down to room temperature to eat.

I really wanted some fresh lavender sprigs in my photos, but unfortunately it was not to be. I was desperately trying to find some, madly roaming my local neighbourhood at 10km/ph on the hunt for lavender! Tis’ not the season.

Happy Baking! And…please come and follow me on Instagam – @gemmaash 🙂

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Salted Butter Popcorn Macarons

Macs are back! This makes me very happy. Very happy indeed. As you would have seen earlier in the year, the last time I made macarons, it didn’t go so well. These still weren’t perfect, that’s for sure, but they do look like macarons, and they taste pretty amazeballs. And that’s all I really care about 🙂

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This mac flavour is from Zumbo’s Fantasy Land of Macarons (p. 57), and the recipe had intrigued me for a quite a while, but I was just a bit scared to give them a go. I’m very glad I did though, because they were definitely worth it. Surprising or not, they taste exactly like a big mouthful of butter popcorn, just with a few different textures. I am a massive fan of sweets with salt, so these were a major winner in my eyes! The only thing I think I would do differently next time, would be to blitz the popcorn a bit more, because I had some big chunky bits on my shells, so they didn’t look quite as dainty as Zumbo the Great’s.
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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
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, yellow

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, 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. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Making

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, 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.

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Buttercream: (from Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons, p.57.)
(I still made the full recipe, even though it could have filled double the shells I had. I am sure I will use it for something…maybe eating it from the bowl…maybe…)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 38g water
  • 75g lightly beaten egg
  • 45g egg yolks
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • Sea salt, to taste
You will need digital scales and a thermometer to make this buttercream. The thermometer I use is just an ordinary one used for coffee. You can find them at homeware or discount stores.
Beat the butter until pale and creamy, about 4 minutes. Put the egg and egg yolks together in a large bowl, and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and cook over a low-medium heat until sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to medium, and cook mixture until it reaches 121c. Begin beating the eggs for a minute or so, and then very slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture. Continue whisking the mixture until it is thick, and cooled to 50c. A teaspoon at a time, add the butter to the egg and sugar mixture, and mix well after each addition to ensure there is no lumps. Once all the butter has been incorporated, fold in the salt to taste. It should look a little something like this:
Buttercream
Assembly:
Cook the microwave popcorn according to instructions. Blitz approximately half of the popcorn in a food processor, until they look like small chunky crumbs. Place popcorn on a large plate or in a shallow bowl. Pair up macaron shells. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, and pipe 1/2 tsp onto shells, and sandwich with another. Melt 1 (if you want to brush 1 shell) or 2 tablespoons of butter (if you want to brush both shells) and completely brush the shell/s with the melted butter.
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Immediately place buttered shell/s into the popcorn and place on an oven tray with baking paper. Once you have completed all of the macarons, place in fridge to set overnight. This will help develop the flavour. After 24 hours or so, place macarons in airtight container if not serving immediately. Store in fridge, and bring down to room temperature to serve.
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Our Date with Adriano Zumbo at Fenix Restaurant

I was lucky enough to receive a ticket to ‘High Tea with Adriano Zumbo’ for my birthday from a close friend, and what a great day it was! This event was held as part of the 2012 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, at Fenix Restaurant and Events, which is owned by Masterchef Australia’s Gary Mehigan.

The highlight of the afternoon was of course the delectable treats we got to sample from Adriano Zumbo, and meeting the King of the Macaron himself. There were many options on offer, including ‘Zumbarons’, Decorated Chocolate Fondant, Citrus Tarts, Chocolate Marshmallow Tart and an array of savoury pies and sausage rolls. I think I tried all of these things :O

My favourite Zumbaron was definitely the Cola one! It was really buttery but still tasted of Cola – so weird, yet so good. The Salted Butter Caramel was also amazing, but who doesn’t love Salted Caramel?!

Zumbo also did a demonstration making vanilla custard macarons, then he deep fried them! So weird. He is a very shy person, but he was really happy to answer anyone’s questions, and talked us all through the processes of creating the humble Macaron. One thing I learnt was that whilst the Italian meringue method is best used for making sweet macaron flavours, when attempting to make a less sweet version or even a savoury flavour, the Swiss meringue method is the best to use. His reason for this is that there is simply less sugar in Swiss meringue. I have never tried making Swiss meringue before, and it sounds a bit tricky. You apparently need to heat the egg whites in a waterbath until they reach a certain temp, then beat them back down to room temperature to create the meringue. Sounds complicated…

We had a great day at Fenix, and tasted some amazing sweets! It was awesome to meet Zumbo, he was happy to have a conversation with everyone there and to pose for photos…AND…contain your excitement fellow Melbournians…!!! We should expect an Adriano Zumbo store, possibly in Fitzroy or South Yarra, by the end of the year!!! Yessssssssssssssss 😀