A few months ago I set myself the challenge of the not so humble French Macaron. The first attempt “FAIL”; but I was determined that this gorgeous almond based meringue cookie was was not going to BEAT ME!!!!!
Now I have to be honest I have lost count of my many attempts, not all failures , but I must admit to showing a little bit of obsessive behaviour in this adventure to produce the perfect Macaron. Many an hour or two has been spent on the internet in research of this delicate cookie.
Then I splurged and brought myself a little present. Zumbo, Adriano Zumbos’s book of other-worldy delights, the first chapter dedicated to the Macaron.
Now I am happy to say ” I DID IT” :-). I succeeded in creating a macaron with a crunchy shell surrounding a soft meringue like middle, cookie, filled on this occasion with a salted butter cream and topped with popcorn “yum”. There are many exciting flavour combinations in Zumbos book (http://adrianozumbo.com/zumbo-book/) and I have a long list in the to-make pile ( which I’m sure will be seen in later blogs :-))
Now I will be honest, I had two attempts at Zumbos butter cream and both times it spilt :-(. The only thing I can think of was that I didn’t have the whisk attachment for my mixer, so instead I used my old and trusted butter cream recipe.
BASIC MACARON RECIPE:
- 300g almond meal
- 300g pure icing sugar
- 110g egg whites, at room temperature
- 300g caster sugar
- 75g water
- 2g powdered egg white
- 110 egg whites extra, at room temperature
- Grease and line 3 large baking trays with non-stick paper
- combine almond meal and icing sugar in a food processor and pluse until really fine ( this is and extra step I included as it helps when sieving)
- once plused push through a fine sieve
- Put egg whites in electric mixer
- place sugar and water in a small pan over low heat and stir until sugar dissolves, using a pastry brush to brush down side of pan to avoid any crystallisation. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Cook until mixture reaches 118 degrees. When getting close to this temperature add powdered egg whites to the egg whites in mixing bowl and whisk on medium speed until frothy.
- Once sugar syrup has reached temperature, increase mixer speed to high and slowly add the sugar syrup in a steady stream down the side of the bowl. Whisk for about 8 minutes.
- Add the extra egg whites to the dry ingredients, then add meringue and use a large spatula to fold through until combined.
- Continue to fold the mixture so it begins to loosen. Working the mixture this way will slightly soften the meringue – when mixture falls slowly off spatula (like a lava flow) it is at the right texture.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a 13mm plain nozzle.
- pipe straight down onto tray to make 4 cm rounds, leaving a 3 cm gap between each macaron, move nozzle from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock quickly to finish piping action. If you have the correct texture ,the macaron will soften again slightly and the tip on top will drop, leaving a smooth top.
- Leave macarons at room temperature for 30 minutes or until a skin forms . After 10 minutes, preheat oven to 135 degree
- Once skin has formed bake for 16 minutes, until they have a firm outer shell
- Remove from oven and set aside for 2 minutes , then carefully remove one macaron to check base is also cooked and dry. If it is still slightly sticky, return macaron to the oven for another 2 – 3 minutes then check again. cool macarons completely on the trays.
ZUMBOS BUTTER CREAM:
- 100g caster sugar
- 38g water
- 75g lightly beaten egg
- 45g egg yolks
- 200g unsalted butter chopped and softened
- 3g sea salt flakes
- Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved
- Increase heat to medium and c00k until syrup reaches 121 degrees
- put eggs and yolks in a electric mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed for 2 minutes
- with motor still running, pour the hot syrup in a thin, steady stream over the egg and mix until thick and cooled to 50 degree
- slowly add butter, a cube at a time, mixing well to ensure there is no lumps
- fold trough sea salt
MY BUTTER CREAM:
- 250G softened butter ( butter needs to be really soft)
- 2 cups pure icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon meringue powder
- 3g sea salt
- Beat butter fo 8-10 minutes on high speed, butter needs to look almost white
- sift in icing sugar and meringue powder beat until well combined
- fold in sea salt
- 1 bag microwave popcorn
- melted unsalted butter for brushing
- cook microwave popcarn according to the instructions on bag.
- put half the popcorn in food processor and blitz to small pieces
- lightly brush to of macarons with melted butter and sprinkle with blitzed popcorn
- leave for 10 minutes to allow butter to set
- fill a piping bag with buttercream and fit a 9mm plain nozzle
- pipe buttercream on the flat side of half the macaron shells
- then top with remaining shell
- put assembled macarons in the fridge to set.
I find macarons taste best a day or to after making, as the flavours have developed and permeated through the cookie. I know this seems like a lot of hard work but trust me the end result it well worth it.