My love of combining sweet and salty flavours is certainly well documented throughout this blog! Maple bacon is something I have wanted to try making for a while, but struggled about what I would do with it. So, I stuck to what I am best at, macarons.
I decided to use a cream cheese icing for the filling – it is definitely my favourite kind of icing, made even yummier with the addition of real maple syrup. The bacon, seriously, I could have happily eaten the whole tray (I know I say this with a lot of things!), but it was delicious – like a lolly with an awesome salt kick! Yum 🙂
I know there haven’t been as many posts as I would have liked in the past couple of months, but with Christmas coming up, there will probably be one nearly every day! I have just finished my Christmas baking list, and it’s safe to say I don’t think I will be leaving the kitchen for the month of December!
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
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. 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.
Cream Cheese and Maple Syrup Icing: (adapted from Martha Stewart):
- 112g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
- 250g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
- 1 cup icing sugar mixture
- 80ml real maple syrup (I used Queen brand)
Beat the butter and cream cheese on high until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar and maple syrup. Refrigerate until firm enough to pipe.
Maple Candied Bacon: (adapted from Food Networks Claire Robinson):
- 250g middle bacon, chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard (I know the recipe says to use dijon, but we didn’t have any and I love wholegrain mustard)
Line a baking tray with two layers of foil, and preheat the oven to 200c (395F). Spread the chopped bacon out on the tray, ensuring no pieces are overlapping. With a pastry brush, brush the bacon with the maple syrup and mustard mixture, ensuring each piece of bacon is evenly coated. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved. You may have to turn some lighter pieces over at the 8 minutes mark. If so, brush with some more syrup. Let bacon cool for 5-10 minutes on the tray. Remove from tray and place in bowl. TIP – you do not want to let the candied bacon cool too much before you remove it from the foil, otherwise the foil will stick to the bacon and it will be really hard to get off. Leave about 25 squares of bacon, and finely chop up the rest so it will be small enough to put around the outside of the macaorn.Try not to eat it all at once 🙂 Trust me, it will be difficult!
Match up likely pairs of macaron shells. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, with the maple cream cheese icing. Pipe small rounds of icing on the macaron shells, place a non-chopped piece of bacon on top, and pipe a tiny bit more icing on top of the bacon. Sandwich with the other macaron shell, and place a few finely chopped pieces of bacon around the outside of the macaron. Place macarons in an airtight container. As aforementioned, macarons are best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.
Anyone thinking of giving this delicious combination a try – do! It’s a perfect Christmas flavour as well, think Christmas hams basted in maple syrup!
Let the Christmas cooking begin!!