Raspberry Bubblegum Macarons

Macarons have been few and far between as of late. As much as I love making them, and more importantly, eating them, they can be very finicky and temperamental, especially in the heat and humidity of the summer. However, I thought, before I go back into Uni hibernation, I should probably make some, even just to know that I am still capable (and this I am now unsure of!).

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 I had been on the hunt for a delicious bubblegum flavour, as I love baking with fun and nostalgic flavours. With fresh raspberries in abundance, I thought, what better than raspberry bubblegum macarons. Whilst my shells failed to comply, they were still tasty, and the intense bubblegum flavour coupled nicely with the burst of the fresh raspberry.

 Macarons:

Recipe by Adriano Zumbo. 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
  • Colouring gel, purple (Wilton and Americolour are best)
  • 100s & 1000s, any sort you like (I use CK Brand – Jimmies)

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 and begins to bubble slightly. You can also use a candy thermometer, and heat 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 and hardened.

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. Add the colouring gel now, taking care to only add very small amounts until your desired colour is achieved. 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 set, most supermarkets sell plastic disposable ones with a few different nozzles. 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. Sprinkles macaron shells with 100s & 1000s. 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. Don’t rush this process – you want the shells to be completely dry. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the ‘foot’ of the macaron will be formed.  Preheat your oven to 135c, or 125c fan forced.

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Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn trays around, and bake for another 9 minutes. To check if shells are cooked, gently lift one off the baking paper. If it peels of easily, they are done, if not, keep checking at 2 minute intervals. Furthermore, if you notice the tops have a slightly crumpled look after you take them out of the oven, put them back in for another couple of minutes. In my experience, this means that they are slightly undercooked and/or haven’t dried out enough before cooking. Cool on trays for 10 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).

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 Raspberry bubblegum buttercream:

  •  Approximately 10 fresh or frozen raspberries, chopped finely
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened (not melted)
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar mixture
  • Colouring gel, turquoise (Wilton and Americolour are best)
  • Bubblegum flavouring (available at specialty cake supply stores)

With a beater, or in a mixer, beat butter until pale and creamy (usually 4-5 minutes). Gradually add in the icing sugar, mixing each addition until well combined. Add approx. ¼ teaspoon of colouring gel. You can always add more if you would like a deeper colour. Very carefully, add a couple of drops of bubblegum flavouring. Mine is extremely strong, so I only needed a tiny amount to achieve enough flavour. Remember, you can always put more in, but you cannot take it back out! Gently fold through the fresh raspberries through the buttercream.

Assembly:

Pair up similar sized macaron shells. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a large round nozzle (it must be large, as you do not want the pieces of raspberry to get stuck behind the nozzle), with buttercream. Pipe rounds of buttercream onto one macaron shell, and gently sandwich with the other. Place in an airtight container, and store in the fridge. Macarons always taste better the day after you have made them, as the flavour has had time to develop. Always serve macarons at room temperature.

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 Enjoy! X

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Cherry Ripe Layer Cake

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and managed to relax over the holiday season. I can’t believe the best time of the year is over already, it always goes too quickly! Usually, for me, January is a busy month for cakes, with most of my families’ birthdays. This year, however, almost my whole family were sick, and celebrations kept getting put off! So, this beauty of a cake was made for three peoples’ birthday, and delicious it was. Excuse the crappy photos, my awesome proper camera broke, and my the photos from my phone just aren’t the same 😦

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This cake is quite similar to this one I made about the same time last year, with red wine ganache. However, I omitted the red wine this year, and added toasted coconut flakes and cherry ripe bars.

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Chocolate Mud Cake Layers: (recipe by Janelle Bloom)

Makes 4 x 23cm layers

400g butter
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup good quality cocoa
2 tbs good quality drinking chocolate or instant coffee powder, or 1 tbs of each if you want
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
2 cups caster (white) sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Approximately 500g fresh cherries, stones removed and halved
Approximately 30 fresh cherries, with stems (I used a 695g bag altogether, and it was just enough)

Preheat oven to 160c. Line 23cm springform cake tins with baking paper. I had two tins, therefore had to repeat the process.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, chocolate, water, cocoa, drinking chocolate and/or coffee powder and vanilla. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and set aside for 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

In the meantime, beat eggs and sugar together in a stand mixer, on medium speed, until pale and creamy. Stream the chocolate mixture down the side of the stand mixer to incorporate into egg mixture. Beat until well combined. Stop the mixer, and add the flour. Beat again until well combined and smooth.

Weigh mixture into four even portions (I did this with digitial scales), to ensure even layers. Pour mixture into prepared tins. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until a skewer is inserted, and comes out clean. Repeat process, depending on how many cake tins you have.

Cool cakes for 15-20 minutes in tins, and transfer to a wire rack. If not using immediately, wrap tightly with cling film once cakes are completely cool, and refrigerate. Bring down to room temperature to assemble and eat.

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Dark chocolate ganache: (you will need to make the ganache the day before serving the cake)

· 300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped, or choc bits
· 300ml thickened cream

In a medium saucepan, combine the chocolate and cream, and place over a low-medium heat, constantly stirring until melted. Place in a large bowl and let cool at room temperature. When ganache has cooled, cover with cling wrap and leave overnight at room temperature.

Assembly:

· Toasted coconut flakes or dessicated coconut
· 900g cherries, pitted and halved
· 100g whole cherries

Place one layer of mud cake on the stand/base. Place ganache in a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe one small dob of ganache in the middle of the cake, and place halves of cherries around it. Repeat the process with ganache around the other side of the cherries, and repeat again. Sprinkle with coconut. The end result should look like this:

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Repeat the process three times, until you reach the top layer. You can really decorate the top layer however you want. I used the ganache for the middle of the top layer, and as you can, sprinkled coconut around the edges. I stuck the whole cherries in with the ganache, to ensure they weren’t going to fall off. I sliced the cherry ripes into sharp triangles, to look effective on the cake.

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Enjoy, and happy baking! X

Lamington Cake with Balsamic Strawberry Jam

Happy Australia Day to all you Aussies! I hope everyone is having a relaxing long weekend 🙂 As a country, Australia does not really have a defined cuisine of its own. I guess it has something to do with being derived from Britain, and not really having a whole lot of history of our own. However, there is one sweet that we do claim do be our own (aside from the humble Pav, of course!). It is the delicious Lamington. If you do not know what a Lamington is, you are missing out, big time! They are slices of sponge-y cake, filled with jam, and covered in chocolate icing and coconut. Yum! I had actually never made a Lamington before, so I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I decided on a cake version for my Mum’s birthday, and I must say, it was delicious, and a big hit.

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I was going to use the recipe from the ‘BAKE’ book, from the Australian’s Women’s Weekly (AWW are the go-to’s for great recipes for many Aussies), for normal Lamington’s. However, I just had to look on my favourite site, Taste, of course, to see if they may have had a recipe for a cake. Luckily, I found the perfect one with great reviews, so I went with that, with a few of my own additions. I guess I could be more sure of the measurements this way, instead of having to adapt a slice into a cake. Anyhoo, the recipe was great – easy to follow and not ridiculously time consuming, either. Winner 🙂

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Lamington Cake: (recipe from Taste.com)

  • Cooking oil spray, to grease
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 2 cups coconut
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 1/3 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract

Preheat your oven to 180c/356f. Grease two 20cm round springform baking tins with cooking oil spray, and line with non-stick baking paper. Set aside.

Sift all three flours into one bowl. In a separate bowl, beat all of the eggs, and the sugar, for approximately ten minutes, or until the mixture is thick, pale and creamy. Then, sift half of the flour mixture into egg mixture, and  gently fold it in with a metal spoon until well combined. Repeat with the remaining flour. Make sure the flour is all combined as it can be difficult to see in a large bowl – the flour will just sink to the bottom. And remember to be gentle as you don’t want to knock too much air out of the sponge.

Divide the mixture evenly into the 2 prepared tins. Smooth the surfaces with a metal spoon to ensure the mixture is even. Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine took 14, but ensure you check at 12). Insert a skewer to ensure cake is cooked – the skewer will come out clean. Leave in tins to cool, then place on a wire rack.

Chocolate Icing:

  • 2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup water

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl together, and add the water. Mix well until combined and smooth. Pour the icing into a large, shallow dish. Pour the coconut out onto a large baking tray.

Place one side of the sponge cake into the icing, cover the sides, then dip the other side of the sponge in the icing. Cover in coconut and place on a large cake stand. Repeat with remaining sponge cake, except place this one on a plate or another baking tray. I found this process super messy and it took me a while, but I got there in the end!

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Balsamic Strawberry Jam:

  • 1 medium punnet of strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 1 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Splash of water

Place strawberries and water (I literally used a splash, just to moisten the strawberries) in a medium sized saucepan. Cook on a medium heat until the berries begin to soften (about 2 minutes). Add the vanilla and sugar, and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until strawberries have broken down. Add balsamic vinegar, and continue cooking on low until mixture becomes a sticky, jam like consistency. Pour into a bowl, and leave to cool. If you are not using the jam on the day of making it, cover with cling wrap and place it in the fridge. I made my jam two days beforehand.

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Assembly:

Whip up 250ml thickened cream, with 1/3 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste/natural extract. With one sponge cake already on the cake stand, cover with whipped cream, ensuring you spread the cream right to the edges of the cake (if you want to decorate it like my cake, leave a little bit of cream behind to pipe on top). Then, spread over the strawberry jam – although this time don’t spread it right to the edges, leave about 1cm. Place the other sponge on top of the cream and jam. Decorate as desired 🙂 EAT!

Messy goodness

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY! (check out my past Australia Day posts here.)

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Aussie Green and Gold Vegemite Macarons

I know Australia Day was last week, but I hardly had any time to do anything for the occasion then, so here we are! I had a few ideas floating around, and I wanted to do something a little bit different, but still reflecting an Aussie theme obviously. I hadn’t made macarons in a couple of weeks, so I decided to try the vegemite macarons from Zumbo’s crazy cookbook! (page 27 for those who have it). FYI, if you have never heard of Zumbo, he is basically the Aussie version of Willy Wonka, and the king of the macaron. Check out his amazing creations and stores here.

I thought making the macarons bright green and gold would look fantastic, and I was so happy with them, and their flavour, too. I’m not a huge, huge fan of Vegemite at the best of times, but the filling is quite subtle, especially when coupled with the sweetness of the macaron shell itself. I was going to call it Vegemite Toast, because the ganache has breadcrumbs in it, however they are not as pronounced when sandwiched between the macaron shells. Once again, if you don’t know what Vegemite is, well, you’re not really missing out on much! It is an Australian yeast spread, which has an extremely concentrated and intense savoury/soury flavour, it’s a bit hard to explain exactly what it tastes like. I always see Americans on TV trying HUGE spoons of Vegemite, and clearly hating it. A tip – do not have too much, and have it with a lot of butter, on toast, and it isn’t too bad at all! Anyway, getting back on track…

I also decided to make lamington macarons, too, another traditional Aussie treat consisting of sponge cake dipped in chocolate, covered in coconut and filled with raspberry jam. Unfortunately, I think I may have added a bit too much cocoa to the meringue mixture, and most of the shells came out looking more like pancakes 😦 I did manage to salvage a couple of half-decent ones for a photo, but they pretty much crumbled straight after. On the bright side, however, they tasted AMAZING. Definitely one to give a go again.

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)

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 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, 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 $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.

Macaron fillings and toppings:

Lamington – Add 1 tsp good quality cocoa to meringue mixture, before combined with almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites. After the macarons have been piped onto the tray, sprinkle with shredded coconut. To make the ganache, melt 100g good quality dark chocolate with half a cup of thickened (whipping) cream, and half a cup of shredded coconut until smooth. Spoon 2/3 tsp of ganache onto 1 macaron shell, spoon 1/2 tsp of raspberry jam on top of the ganache, and sandwich with another shell.

Green and Gold Vegemite – For the shells, add 1/2 tsp of Wilton’s colouring gel in Lemon Yellow (I do think that supermarket food colouring liquid will change the consistency of the shells, as you would need a lot to achieve such a bright yellow), to the meringue mixture. For the ganache, you will need 95g of thickened (whipping) cream, 112g good quality white chocolate, and 20g vegemite (you could probably use Marmite if Vegemite is not available), 25g breadcrumbs and 62g butter, softened – not melted. Put the cream in a saucepan, over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Have the chocolate and vegemite ready in a bowl. Pour the hot cream over the choc/vegemite mixture and leave for 2 minutes. Stir until mixture is smooth, and stir in the breadcrumbs. When the mixture has cooled down a bit, blitz in the butter with a stick mixer (if you do not have a stick mixer, make sure your butter is really, really soft and just whisk it in while it is still warm until smooth. Add green colouring (again, I used Wilton’s gel). Cool ganache until solid enough to pipe. Fill a piping bag fitted with around nozzle. Pipe approx. 1 tsp on a shell, then sandwich with another. (I did half Zumbo’s recipe here).

Please don’t be put of making these by my explanation of Vegemite, because when combined with white chocolate and butter – it tastes pretty great!

Check out MACTWEETS Mac Attack Challenge – an awsome blog that honours the amazingly delish macaron every month! For March, it will be Macaron Day (on the 20th). I have entered these little babies in the challenge…go you happy little vegemites!

Happy belated Australia Day!!!

(P.S. I will be overseas for 3 weeks now, so stay tuned for a post after then!)