Toasted Marshmallow Macarons

One thing I can say about these: yum, yum, yum! I was a bit down in the dumps this week, so the best thing to do when you’re feeling like crap – bake 🙂 These macarons were just delicious, and tasted just like a marshmallow that had been freshly toasted in a fire. The creme patissiere was such a great base for the filling, and added a nice custardy creaminess to the slight charcoal flavour from the toasted marshmallows. Definitely onto a winner with these!
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The past few times I’ve made creme pat, it has not turned out well at all. Both times I had lumpy custard with bits of cooked egg and a thick skin, sounds delicious, hey?! This time I used Zumbo’s recipe in the trusty Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons, and once again, Zumbo’s recipe worked perfectly. The custard was smooth and vanilla-ey and I could have eaten the whole thing then and there. But that’s not anything out of the ordinary. I got to whip out my blowtorch again this week, it seems to be getting quite a workout at the moment 😉 It took me a while to blowtorch the marshmallows because you have to make sure you cook every side and end so they’re all nice and melted, and I was stupid enough to put baking paper underneath them, and burnt half the paper off in the process. Silly me. Don’t do that at home!
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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, pink

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 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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 Crème Patissiere: (recipe from p. 104 of Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons)
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract/seeds
  • 60g egg yolks
  • 60g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 25g cornflour
  • 100g butter, chopped and softened

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla over a medium-low heat until almost boiling. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until it is thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, and return mixture to saucepan. Return to medium heat until custard comes to boil (it will be very foamy at this stage, but don’t worry as it will go down and turn into a thick custard). Boil for 1 minute. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Cool mixture to 50c – this will take about 15-20 minutes. When crème pat is 50c beat in the butter until smooth. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

 Creme pat
Toasted Marshmallow filling: (I used the full quantity of this recipe as I will use the rest of the filling for something else. If you are using the macaron recipe I use, you could certainly halve it. Adapted from p. 61 of Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons)
  • 150g marshmallows
  • 170g butter, chopped and softened (make sure it’s salted butter)
  • Crème patissiere

Marshmallows

Place the marshmallows on a baking tray (NOT with baking paper!), and use a blowtorch to toast on all sides. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add the crème patissiere and mix with a spoon until smooth. Add the freshly toasted marshmallows (ensure they are very melted) and mix well.

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Assembly:
Match up likely pairs of macaron shells. Spoon marshmallow filling into a piping bag fitted with a wide round nozzle. Pipe filling onto the shell and sandwich with the other.
Macarons
Place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. Take macarons out of the fridge and consume at room temperature. I don’t need to ask you to enjoy, because I already know the answer to that 😛
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Summer Strawberry & Vanilla Cupcakes

I made these cute little cupcakes for two of my friends joint birthday this week, and am quite satisfied with how they turned out! My friend suggested the idea of putting strawberry into the plain vanilla bean cupcake, and it worked really well. They added a nice touch of summer and broke up the sweetness of the vanilla and rich creaminess of the buttercream. Yum!

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes1

I know it sounds a bit lame, but I LOVE piping cupcakes. I find it strangely therapeutic, but only when the buttercream swirls exactly the way I want it to :p Which definitely doesn’t always happen!

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I used my trusted vanilla bean cupcake recipe that I have used countless times. The great thing about this recipe is that you can double it, halve it, add anything you want to it (ie. Strawberries!), and the cakes will still be super moist and fluffy 🙂 Unlike macarons, where you can make the slightest of adjustments and every single shell will crack!

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Tower!

Cupcakes always look so pretty in photos, especially when they’re cute girly pastel colours like these ones. I love adding ribbon and cachous and other colour co-ordinated bits and pieces to the photos to brighten them up and to try and make a bit more of a story out of my food. I’m not sure if I’m any good at it, as I know next to nothing about photography, but it’s definitely fun to play around 🙂

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Pink Champagne & Strawberry Layer Cake + Mini Cupcakes

I had always wondered what Pink Champagne would taste like in a dessert, as I had heard many stories and seen many recipes, but still wasn’t one hundred per cent convinced. As was it was my Nanna’s 81st Birthday coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time to try something Pink Champagney-cakey, because my Nanna lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvves Champagne, more than anyone else I know. I began my search for an inspiring recipe and stumbled across a Pink Champagne Cake Pop number from the ever-amazing Sweetapolita. I knew then I had to make it, because when it comes to cake, Sweetapolita is up there with the best and I knew it would be fantastic!

Unfortunately, when I made the cake I was running quite low on time (nothing ever changes!), and it wasn’t as pretty as I hoped it would be. So, it was definitely a rustic looking cake. The photos don’t do the cake justice either, I literally finished icing it and had to run out the door in my ten-inch heels, so the fact that the cake survived the journey to the restaurant is a miracle in itself! Lucky it did though, because it was really, really yummy. There was just enough booze to counteract the amount of butter and sugar in the icing, and the tang of the soaked strawberries in the middle certainly made it one delightful biteful!

My favourite part of the cake was definitely the Pink Champagne soaked strawberries in the middle. I cooked them down with some vanilla and a bit of sugar, and they were soooooo good! I could have happily eaten them all there and then.

Pink Champagne & Strawberry Layer Cake: (adapted from Sweetapolita)

  • 3 cups cake flour (if you don’t know what Cake Flour is – read this)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 170g butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Pink Champagne
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries

Preheat a fan forced oven to 175c (350F), and grease and line two 22cm spring form pans. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) together and set aside. To the butter and sugar mixture, gradually add the egg whites, followed by the vanilla. Add and alternate the dry ingredients and the champagne – make sure you begin and end with dry (3 dry, 2 wet). Stir in chopped strawberries. Mix until fully combined, but ensure you do not over mix. Evenly distribute the cake batter (use scales to ensure they are exact) into the two prepared tins. Place in preheated oven, and cook for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. The cakes should spring back slightly when done. Do not open the oven until the cakes have been cooking for 25 minutes. Leave cakes in pan to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

 Pink Champagne Buttercream: (this can be made a few days in advance and stored in the fridge)

  • 350g salted butter, chopped and softened, not melted
  • 2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1/3 cup Pink Champagne
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract

Beat butter until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the Pink Champagne and sugar. After buttercream is fully incorporated, beat for another 5-8 minutes.

Pink Champagne soaked Strawberries:

  • 1 small punnet strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup Pink Champagne
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp caster sugar

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and leave to soak for up to an hour (you could leave it longer if you wanted to). Pour ingredients into a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until mixture is boiling. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 45 minutes, or until mixture is thick and syrupy. Let strawberries cool before you put them on the cake.

Assembly:

Place one layer of cake on a stand or board, or whatever you’re using. Spread a very thin layer of buttercream over the first cake, and evenly pour the soaked strawberries, and sandwich with the second layer of cake. Cover the entire cake with a layer of buttercream, using a round edged knife. I find the easiest way to do this is to get a cup of warm water, and to regularly dip – it just goes on smoother and won’t break the cake. Top the cake with a handful of strawberries for decoration and freshness 😉

I also made some mini cupcakes with the leftover Pink Champagne buttercream I had. I managed to get some better photos of these ones…

I used the foolproof recipe I always use for Vanilla Cupcakes, they work perfectly every time and are so easy!

 

 

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!