Salted Butter Popcorn Macarons

Macs are back! This makes me very happy. Very happy indeed. As you would have seen earlier in the year, the last time I made macarons, it didn’t go so well. These still weren’t perfect, that’s for sure, but they do look like macarons, and they taste pretty amazeballs. And that’s all I really care about 🙂

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This mac flavour is from Zumbo’s Fantasy Land of Macarons (p. 57), and the recipe had intrigued me for a quite a while, but I was just a bit scared to give them a go. I’m very glad I did though, because they were definitely worth it. Surprising or not, they taste exactly like a big mouthful of butter popcorn, just with a few different textures. I am a massive fan of sweets with salt, so these were a major winner in my eyes! The only thing I think I would do differently next time, would be to blitz the popcorn a bit more, because I had some big chunky bits on my shells, so they didn’t look quite as dainty as Zumbo the Great’s.
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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, yellow

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).

Making

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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Buttercream: (from Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons, p.57.)
(I still made the full recipe, even though it could have filled double the shells I had. I am sure I will use it for something…maybe eating it from the bowl…maybe…)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 38g water
  • 75g lightly beaten egg
  • 45g egg yolks
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • Sea salt, to taste
You will need digital scales and a thermometer to make this buttercream. The thermometer I use is just an ordinary one used for coffee. You can find them at homeware or discount stores.
Beat the butter until pale and creamy, about 4 minutes. Put the egg and egg yolks together in a large bowl, and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and cook over a low-medium heat until sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to medium, and cook mixture until it reaches 121c. Begin beating the eggs for a minute or so, and then very slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture. Continue whisking the mixture until it is thick, and cooled to 50c. A teaspoon at a time, add the butter to the egg and sugar mixture, and mix well after each addition to ensure there is no lumps. Once all the butter has been incorporated, fold in the salt to taste. It should look a little something like this:
Buttercream
Assembly:
Cook the microwave popcorn according to instructions. Blitz approximately half of the popcorn in a food processor, until they look like small chunky crumbs. Place popcorn on a large plate or in a shallow bowl. Pair up macaron shells. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, and pipe 1/2 tsp onto shells, and sandwich with another. Melt 1 (if you want to brush 1 shell) or 2 tablespoons of butter (if you want to brush both shells) and completely brush the shell/s with the melted butter.
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Immediately place buttered shell/s into the popcorn and place on an oven tray with baking paper. Once you have completed all of the macarons, place in fridge to set overnight. This will help develop the flavour. After 24 hours or so, place macarons in airtight container if not serving immediately. Store in fridge, and bring down to room temperature to serve.
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Best of 2012!

Here is a collection of photos that sums up the best foodie moments of 2012. I have loved every minute of delving into the blogging world, and cannot wait to continue next year 🙂 HNY!

Macarons:

Macarons

Macarons1

Macarons2

Macarons3

Cakes:

 

Cakes1

Cakes2

Cakes3

Cakes4

 

Bits and Pieces:

 

Pizza making class, High Tea with Zumbo, myself with Gary Mehigan

Pizza making class, High Tea with Zumbo, myself with Gary Mehigan

 

Homemade Ravioli and Gnocchi, Curries cooking class on a boat, Sipping cocktails at Sea Links Resort in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

Homemade Ravioli and Gnocchi, Curries cooking class on a boat, Sipping cocktails at Sea Links Resort in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

 

Treats from Little Cupcakes and La Belle Miette, Pasta and Black Risotto at Grossi Florentino, Homemade dumplings

Treats from Little Cupcakes and La Belle Miette, Pasta and Black Risotto at Grossi Florentino, Homemade dumplings

 

Homemade Caramel Ice Cream, Homemade Apple Pie, Sipping sparking in the Yarra Valley, making Neil Perry's Mac and Cheese.

Homemade Caramel Ice Cream, Homemade Apple Pie, Sipping sparking in the Yarra Valley, making Neil Perry’s Mac and Cheese.

 

Chocolate Dumplings and Custard Buns at Yum Cha @ David's, Prahran.

Chocolate Dumplings and Custard Buns at Yum Cha @ David’s, Prahran.

 

Melted Snowmen Shortbread, Candy Cane Macarons, Dessert @ Malvern Hotel, Salted Caramel Profiteroles.

Melted Snowmen Shortbread, Candy Cane Macarons, Dessert @ Malvern Hotel, Salted Caramel Profiteroles.

 

Happy New Year! 🙂 Xo

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Gnocchi with Burnt Butter and Sage

I have always been a huge gnocchi lover. Well, a huge pasta lover in general, really. I have made this recipe for gnocchi a few times, but not for ages, and this recipe is always really great, light and fluffy just how gnocchi should be 🙂 I decided to pair it with the classic combination of burnt butter and sage – I love the nuttiness of the burnt butter and the crispy sage leaves. This dish marked the beginning of my family’s Easter Sunday feast, and safe to say it was quickly gobbled up by all involved. And I was so excited about it all that I forgot to take photos of the plates until I had eaten about half – sorry!

The recipe is once again from trusty Taste.com – where would I be without Taste?! I know a lot of people are put off my making their own gnocchi because they think it is difficult. If you follow this recipe, and stick to this exact amount of flour, I can almost guarantee your gnocchi will taste like fluffy pillows of heaven 😛 C’mon guys, it’s only potato and flour!!

Potato Gnocchi: (I only cooked about 2/3 of the quantity to serve 5 as an entree, so if you cooked the whole lot it would probably comfortably serve 7-8 as an entree, and 4 as a main)

  • 1 kg red (desiree) potatoes
  • 3/4 plain (all-purpose) flour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Extra flour for dusting

Line three baking trays with baking paper. Peel skin off potatoes and cut in half. Place in a large saucepan, cover with plenty of cold, lightly salted water, and cook over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are soft enough to mash. Drain potatoes well and transfer to a large bowl. Mash potatoes until completely smooth (NO lumps here!), season with salt and pepper, and leave them to cool (I just put them in the fridge for about 20 minutes, and it was cool enough to handle).

Gradually add the flour, and knead until well combined. The dough should be a little bit sticky, but firm. If it is too sticky to work with, add a little more flour – not too much though, you do not want the gnocchi to be gluggy when cooked. Flour a large, flat surface, and roll the dough, in batches with your hands, into long, thin logs. Ensure dough is always dusted with flour and does not stick to the surface. Using a floured butter knife, begin cutting small squares of dough from the logs (about 2 cm wide). Gently press each gnocchi lightly with a fork (these grooves will ensure the sauce sticks to the gnocchi), and transfer to the lined baking trays.

Fill a large saucepan with cold, salted water (or boiling water from the kettle if you’re in a hurry!). Bring to the boil and add the gnocchi. Gnocchi will only take 2-3 minutes to cook, and it will be ready when it floats to the surface. Drain well.

Burnt Butter and Sage Sauce: (these quantities are for the amount I made – 2/3 of the dough, and will serve 5 as an entree)

  •  4 generous tablespoons butter (I used Western Star spreadable)
  • 25 fresh sage leaves
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Lemon juice, to sprinkle
  • Parmesan, to sprinkle

Just before you put the gnocchi in the boiling water to cook, place butter and sage leaves in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Cook butter until it turns a nut brown (about 5 mins) and tastes slightly burnt, and the sage leaves are crispy. Add gnocchi, and stir until well combined. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Once gnocchi is plated, add a little lemon juice and parmesan. Yum!

I hope everyone had a great chocolate holiday, religious occasion or just a super long weekend! X