This is why I love keeping up a blog, because it pushes you to do things you never thought you would or could do, and it encourages you to venture into unknown territory, just so you can come back and have something interesting to tell readers (and it gets you all excited about blogging instead of feeling tiresome at having to write yet another post because you feel obligated to do so).
SO, yes, I made macarons =D. Up until now I have never actually looked at a recipe for macarons or researched into how they are made. So when I found a recipe I was a bit like "Really? That's it?" (not to be arrogant or anything - there's plenty that can go wrong when making them!). And in saying that, my macarons didn't turn out like Adriano Zumbo's by no means haha, but they were decent. I thought I'd stick with a recipe for simple vanilla macarons just to be safe, plus I think you need to use powdered food colouring to make them all different colour (I don't even know where you get that stuff from =S). I decided on a chocolate ganache, but again I found myself with a tub of salted caramel to spare (I tasted more like really REALLY salty butterscotch and hence why there was so much left), so I thought I would dump that in there as well which just kicked it up a notch on the yumness scale.
The only problem I had was actually piping out the macarons onto baking paper. Well, I didn't actually pipe them (I got a bit of almond stuck in the piping bag and it just got way too messy =P), I used a tablespoon to sort of "dump" them on to the paper. Which wasn't too bad because the mounds just spread into a circle shape (if you're relatively neat =P) by themselves, however it resulted in different sizes which didn't produce consistent shaped macarons. So if anyone knows any easier, less messy way, let me know haha.
I urge you to give this a go, because I honestly believe it isn't that hard to do =) (touchwood - probs should give it a few more tries before i say that eh ahaha). Just a quick note - the recipe calls for almond meal, but what i did was grind the same weight in whole and slivered almonds (only because that was all I had on hand), along with the icing sugar, to make sure it didn't turn into a paste. That is why there are all these brown flecks (the whole almonds were unpeeled). This is also a cheaper option, and they pretty much turn out the same as if you were to use almond meal, taste wise.
So here are my Vanilla Macarons with Chocolate Salted Caramel Ganache =D!
100g egg whites, room temp
50g caster sugar
200g icing sugar
110g almond meal
3/4 cup thickened cream
1 cup dark chocolate
1 jar salted caramel (actually you can add as much as you like to your own taste =) - use my salted caramel recipe)
I also added some (approx. 1/2 cup) chopped up butterscotch toffees but I don't think this made a difference to the taste
1. Whisk egg whites in electric mixer till turns to foam. Gradually add sugar while continuing whisking, until mixture is glossy (like a regular basic meringue mixture).
|What my combined ground almonds + icing sugar mixture looked like|
2. Combine almond meal/almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse to incorporate them both together. Add mixture to meringue and mix quickly by giving quick strokes, slowing down once incorporated (don't over mix - the mixture should flow like lava - test a small amount by spooning some mixture onto a plate and if the top flattens by itself then the mixture is ready).
|Just drop some mixture onto the baking paper and they |
flatten out into discs by themselves =)
3. Fill a pastry bag with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small 3cm diameter round onto baking paper. Leave to harden for 1 hr. (At this point some recipes call for gently rapping your baking sheets on your bench top to remove any extra bubbles from your piped shells - I didn't do this, but i will next time to see if it affects how high the macarons rise....regardless mine turned out alright as you can see below....)
|Yay!! They have feet!! Or in technical baking language, they have a pied|
4. Pre-heat oven to 145C (290F). Bake macarons for 15-18 minutes (length of baking will depend on their size and your oven). Let them cool completely before piping/spooning ganache onto one shell and sandwiching with another.
5. To make the ganache - heat cream in heavy based saucepan over medium high heat until just before boiling point. Take off heat, add chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted and incorporated (may need to return to heat to make sure the chocolate is fully melted). Gradually add salted caramel (and toffee if using), tasting as you go. Leave to cool completely/to a spreadable consistency - I shoved mine in the freezer because I'm impatient like that =P.
I am so keen to make these again very soon! They tasted so divine, definitely need to try some different flavours....