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

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Raspberry Buttercream Macarons

My love for raspberry is certainly well documented, and this addition is no exception!

I thought it would be nice to do something non chocolate or caramel for a change! I made a simple buttercream, and just added some raspberries that I cooked down and it worked really well. The flavour was great and I love the natural pink colour it gives. I also put half a raspberry in the middle of each macaron because I thought it would break up the buttercream and add a nice tang 😉

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 Wilton’s pink colouring gel

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.

 

Raspberry Buttercream:

  • 2/3 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 175g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar mixture

Place raspberries in medium saucepan with a splash of water. Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until raspberries are cooked down enough to pass through a sieve. Push raspberries through a fine sieve to get rid of the seeds. Let mixture cool completely.

Beat butter on high until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar and raspberry mixture. If not using immediately, refrigerate.

Assembly:

Match likely pairs of macaron shells. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, and pipe a small round on a shell. With the left over raspberries, cut each berry in half and place on top of the buttercream. Pipe another small swirl on top, and sandwich with the other shell.

These macarons are also a part of this month’s Mactweets Challenge which are showcasing seasonal fruit. Seeing as raspberries are one of my favourite fruits and they are slowly coming into season in Australia, I thought they would be my best bet!

Mars Bar Macarons

I’ve had the idea of doing something Mars Bar-sy lately, whether it was a macaron, ice cream or cupcakes (which hopefully I will get around to eventually!). I decided on the red shell because of how the colour the word ‘Mars’ appears on the packet, and I thought it would stand out more than a plain chocolate coloured shell!

I used both salted caramel and chocolate ganache for the filling and it is safe to say they were pretty yummy! Maybe next time I’ll try to make a bit of a nougat to stick in there as well.

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
  • ¾ tsp Wilton’s colouring gel in red (I used ‘Rojo Intenso)

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, 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 in 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 7 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.

 

For the salted caramel, I used Zumbo’s recipe that I have used before for the Salted Butter Caramel Macarons – it does take a while to make but it is to die for! I also used my usual recipe for chocolate ganache:

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 100g chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cream (doesn’t really matter which type but I use thickened or lite thickened)

Place chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low-medium heat. Constantly stir with a metal spoon until completely melted. Pour into container/bowl/whatever and refrigerate until firm enough to pipe. I often make this ganache the day before and take it out of the fridge in the morning. Sometimes it may need 5-10 seconds in the microwave.

Assembly:

Like the above picture, place salted caramel and chocolate ganache in separate piping bags fitted with round nozzle. Pipe a circle of ganache on a shell, and fill the hole with salted caramel (it doesn’t really matter what order you do this in). Sandwich with other shell.

Yummmmmmmmmmm!

 

 

Lamington Macarons

This is my second attempt at Lamington macarons. If you are unfamiliar with lamingtons, they are a delicious Australian treat – a vanilla cake that often has rapberry jam in the middle, and is rolled in chocolate sauce and covered in coconut. Sounds pretty good hey?! Thankfully this time, they actually do look like macarons, instead of pancakes (see Vegemite macarons)! I love the idea of using a flavour or a product that is completely non-macaron related, and making a macaron with these flavours and products in mind. That is the great thing about macarons – they are a blank canvas. You can colour them however you like and you can fill them with whatever flavour you like whether it be fruity, creamy or rich and chocolatey like this one.

I love the dark chocolate and raspberry combination, and with the addition of coconut, these macarons were so rich, hence why they are teeny tiny! This is also the first time I have made proper chocolate shells, and with a little tweaking with the recipe, they mostly turned out well. The chocolate shells were like mini mud-cakes with a meringue crust – so good. They were a lot denser than a normal shell, but were still airy and carried the chocolate flavour really well.

Chocolate Macarons: (this recipe is adapted from Adriano Zumbo’s book and is a bit different to the recipe I usually use)

You definitely need kitchen scales (preferably digital) to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa
  • 55g egg whites, x2
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 45g water

Grease and line 4 oven trays with baking paper, and preheat the oven to 160c. Place one lot of 55g egg whites in a large, dry and clean bowl and set aside. Sift together the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa four times, and set aside, along with the other lot of 55g egg whites (I usually place egg whites in a ramekin, on top of a paper towel in the bowl with the dry ingredients – otherwise I tend to forget them :P). Combine the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and syrup is hot – keep testing with your tongue until sugar is dissolved. Begin beating 55g egg whites in the large bowl, and slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. This will create an Italian meringue. Beat until soft peaks form – you do not want to overbeat your egg whites. The mixture should be thick and very glossy.

Pour the 55g egg whites in the ramekin into the dry ingredients. Carefully spoon the Italian meringue mixture into the dry ingredients bowl and stir to combine. Once combined, fold mixture (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left – this will usually take 30-40 seconds if you are folding non-stop. Make a spread with the spoon on top of the mixture, and it should subside in 15-20 seconds.

Using a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, fill the bag 2/3 way with the macaron mixture (TIP – if you do not have a piping bag set, never fear. In the baking aisle of most Australian supermarkets you will find a small orange box – they are ‘Multix’ brand and have 5 piping bags and 5 piping tips. I am sure most supermarkets in the USA would have a very similar product). To lock the bag, spin the top around 4 times. Gently pipe small circles onto prepared baking trays. When you have a finished a tray, tap it hard against the bench – this will get rid of the air bubbles. Leave trays for about half an hour, or until they are dry to the touch and a crust is formed. You need this crust for the macarons to rise properly so that they form their little feet.

I had a bit of trouble with this next part. I’m not sure if it was my oven or the difference of having the cocoa in the shell mixture, but quite a lot of my shells cracked, especially around the edges of the tray. I found that these chocolate shells cook a lot quicker than regular shells, so this is what I did and most of them turned out pretty well. Only cook one tray at a time. Place tray in preheated oven for 7 minutes. Turn tray around and bake for 3 minutes. You may need to check early on in the cooking process whether you shells are forming properly or they are cracking. If they are cracking, I would recommend removing them from the oven and cooling them down, as they may already be cooked. If not, follow the times I have suggested. Let shells cool on trays for 5-10 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack. Repeat process with remaining trays.

Chocolate Ganache:

This is a basic chocolate ganache. I have doubled the recipe I usually use.

  • 200g chocolate (I used half milk, half dark), chopped
  • 1 cup cream (doesn’t really matter which type but I use thickened or lite thickened)

Place chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low-medium heat. Constantly stir with a metal spoon until completely melted. Pour into container/bowl/whatever and refrigerate until firm enough to pipe. I often make this ganache the day before and take it out of the fridge in the morning. Sometimes it may need 5-10 seconds in the microwave.

Assembly:

Match up likely pairs of macaron shells. Fill one piping bag with chocolate ganache and another piping bag with raspberry jam – I didn’t make mine this time, but if you want to, check out this awesome recipe by Matt Preston. Pipe a small dollop of ganache on the shell, pipe an even smaller dollop of jam on top, and then another dollop of ganache to encase the jam. Sandwich with another shell and gently sprinkle around the edges of the macaron with dessicated coconut.

 

Caramel au beurre sale macarons (Salted Butter Caramel Macarons)

Caramel has always been my favourite dessert flavour. McDonalds sundaes, always caramel, milkshakes, always caramel. So when the idea of salted caramel became quite the phenomenon, I was delighted. Salt and Caramel are the best flavour combination, and when coupled with butter, really, how can one go wrong? Surprisingly, I had never tried making a real, homemade caramel. Although now that I have, I definitely think it will be a regular occurrence! So, here are my Caramel au beurre sale` macarons, my Salted Butter Caramel macarons.

The recipe I used for the caramel was another of Zumbo’s wonders. It is a two-step process and does take quite a lot of effort, but trust me, if you are a caramel lover, you will be in heaven, I guarantee.

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, 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. 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.

Caramel Maison: (this recipe is on page 245 of Adriano Zumbo’s cookbook)

  • 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.

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.

Place caramel buttercream in a piping bag with a round nozzle, and pipe 1/2 – 3/4 tsp onto a macaron shell, and sandwich with another. Place in refrigerator to set. Bring macarons down to room temperature to serve.

If you are not up to making macarons just yet, this caramel buttercream could be used for so many different things. It would be great mixed into a hot chocolate, in a milkshake, or as a topping over ice cream. You could also use it as a tart filling, and even as icing on a cupcake. Mmm…I’m getting hungry just thinking about them all!

Have a great weekend! X

Nutella and Hazelnut Macarons

I have always been a huuuuge Nutella fan. I always sometimes eat it by spoonfuls out of the jar – but who doesn’t. It really is just way too good. I have had a couple of requests for hazelnut/Nutella macarons recently, so now that Uni has finished and I now have a life again, here they are!

I had seen hazelnut macarons before which only used Nutella as the filling, but I wanted to make them special and go that extra mile so I made a ganache. I used half milk choc and half dark choc, with both cream and nutella. It was delish, how could it not be? Plus, I also roasted some whole hazelnuts, crushed them and used them in the ganache, too. If you are a Nutella fan, it is pretty obvious you are going to lurrrrrrrrve these.

For some reason the shells were slightly extra puffy this time, they were probably my best looking shells yet 😉 You know that you have made a good macaron when you pipe the filling and the shell remains sturdy and doesn’t show any signs of crumbling to the ground, and when they are crunchy on the outside, and chewy and gooey in the middle. Yummmmmm!

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
  • good quality cocoa, to sprinkle

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, really 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 (for these I didn’t add any colouring or cocoa in the mixture, but you could add a bit of cocoa if you wanted). 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 7 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 really 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.

Hazelnut Ganache: (this great recipe was adapted from the great blog, Penguin Says Feed Me)

  • 110ml thickened cream (I used light thickened cream and the texture was still great)
  • 140g chocolate (I used half milk – Green and Blacks organic, half dark – Callebaut Couveture which my amazing boyfriend bought for me – it’s hugely expensive and I would never buy it myself, but it is fantastic, otherwise you could just use Green and Blacks or Old Gold/Club)
  • 2 generous tablespoons Nutella
  • 1 handful whole hazelnuts (probably about 10 nuts)

Place hazelnuts on an oven tray and roast for 10 minutes in an 150c, or 160c fan forced oven. Pour into mortar and crush with pestle, or just on a chopping board and chop them finely. Set aside. Place chocolate, cream and Nutella in a medium sized saucepan and cook over low-medium heat until melted. Pour into bowl and set aside until firm (I usually make ganache before macarons, then it is firm enough to be piped later on). You don’t need to refrigerate this ganache, but ensure you stir it every half an hour or so.

Assembly:

Pair up identical macaron shells. Spoon ganache into piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe half a teaspoon onto a shell, and top with the crushed hazelnuts, then pipe another half teaspoon, and sandwich with the other shell. Dust with cocoa.

If you are a hazelnut lover, you will be able to eat a whole bowl of this ganache, no worries! You could also top cupcakes, or make a hazelnut/chocolate layer cake, or even a tart, with this ganache. But macarons are always the best 😀

Happy Hazelnuts!