Chocolate and Caramel Cake with Salted Caramel and Choc-Orange Pisatchio Macarons

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 🙂

Happy Baking!

 

 

 

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Musk Layered Cake with Musky Macarons + Macaron tips

As an avid reader of awesome baking blog raspberri cupcakes, I have soooooo wanted to try doing a layered cake similar to the Orange Cake with Fruit Tingles Icing. It was my friends birthday, and I knew she loved Musk Lifesavers, so I gave it a go – and it actually didn’t look too bad. I wasn’t expecting amazing results here – as I have never, ever made layered cake before. And, with my complete lack of artistic raw talent, I just didn’t know what it would turn out like!

I adapted the cake and icing recipes from raspberri cupcakes, but obviously didn’t add the orange. I have used this recipe for cupcakes before as well, and it’s great. I made three layers, in three different shades of pink, and they looked pretty good when it all came together. There is a hell of a lot of butter and sugar in the buttercream icing, not to mention the musk essence and musk lifesavers, too! It was a very, very sweet cake, which I guess in a way is good because you only need a little bit, and it will last longer 🙂

Having the macarons on top of the cake was an idea I had seen on raspberri cupcakes, too. The macarons also have a musky flavour to them, but instead of putting the buttercream icing in them, I decided on a vanilla bean cream. I just thought it would be way too much. The cream worked really well, as I didn’t add any extra sugar, just a tiny bit of vanilla bean paste so it wasn’t too sweet. It cut through the sweetness of the buttercream really nicely.

Here’s the recipe!

Musk Layered Cake:

For the cake: (cake can be made one day ahead – just wrap in cling film and refrigerate)

  • 165g unsalted butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 3/4cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g self-raising flour (2 cups), sifted
  • Pink food colouring (I used Wilton’s food colouring gel, it’s great)

For the buttercream icing:

  • 350g salted butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 750g soft icing sugar (6 cups)
  • Pink food colouring gel
  • 2 small drops of musk essence, you can adjust to taste
  • 4 rolls of musk lifesavers, crushed in the food processor almost to a powder, but you still want some chunky bits

Vanilla Bean Cream:

  • 100ml thickened cream, for whipping
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste (I love vanilla bean paste, because you get the little vanilla flecks without having to scrape the seeds out of a bean, not to mention how expensive the beans themselves cost)

Preheat the oven to 190c (180c fan forced). Grease and line a round baking tin (I only have one, so I had to bake 3 cakes). Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, and beat well to combine. Add vanilla. Add flour and mix until well combined. Measure the mixture, and divide into three separate bowls (my mixture equated to three very generous cups). In each bowl, add small amounts of colouring until you have 3 different shades of pink.

Pour the lightest mixture into the tin (or the three mixtures into three tins), smooth with a spatula so that the mixture is spread evenly, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cake mixtures.

For the buttercream icing, remove butter from fridge 45 minutes before use. Beat butter until it is pale and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat in well until smooth. Icing should not be runny, but should not hold its shape, either. Add musk essence and crushed lifesavers, and mix well.

To make the vanilla bean cream, beat cream and vanilla together until stiff peaks form, and it is solid enough to sandwich between macarons without dripping from the sides.

To assemble cake, begin with the lightest coloured cake. Sandwich together cakes with thick layers of icing, with either a spatula or a small rounded knife. Have a glass of warm water on hand to dip your knife into, as it makes it a lot easier to produce smooth icing.

Now for the macarons!

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
  • Food colouring and flavouring (optional) In these ones I used 2 drops musk essence, and a tiny bit of colouring gel

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.

To fill, place the vanilla bean cream in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe about 1/2 – 2/3 tsp of cream onto one half of the macarons, and sandwich with the other half. When done, very gently push the edge of the macarons into the edge of the cake (do this when icing is still pliable), to make a circle around the edge of the cake.

I can’t wait to try some different versions of this cake! It is a first, and the raspberri cupcakes Orange Cake with Fruit Tingles Icing leaves my baby for dead! I still love it anyway.

  

Some tips for macaron making:

Once you have made these a few times, usually you will be able to tell if they are going to work or not. If there is absolutely no form in the mixture, good luck to you! And if it is really, really grainy and you’re having trouble pushing it out of the piping bag – good luck to you too! But please don’t let that discourage you from making them, they do take a while to master. I’ve made probably close to 100 batches, and sometimes they still don’t work out!

NEVER make macarons when you’re stressed or tired! I can almost guarantee they will not work. Make sure you have plenty of time.

When you’re making macarons, a rule of thumb is to measure everything exactly. However, if you’re using quite a bit of flavouring and/or colouring, put an extra 5-8g of almond meal in. Any extra liquid is likely to change the consistency of the mixture.

It is macaRON. Not MacaROON!

Snickers Macarons filling:

I know in the last post I said I would put the recipe up for the Snickers macarons. So, in the macaron mixture just add 1 and 1/2 tsp of good quality cocoa.

For the peanut dulce de leche, boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for 3 hours. Pour into a mixing bowl and add half a cup of salted and crushed peanuts and combine well. To make the ganache, simply combine 100g good quality chocolate (I usually use dark, or half dark, half milk) and half a cup of cream in a small saucepan until smooth and glossy. Pour in bowl and refrigerate until set (2-3 hours). Spoon 1/2 tsp of peanut dulce de leche, and 1/2 tsp of ganache on one half of a macaron, and sandwich with another. Yum!