Fairy Bread Macarons

There’s something undeniably decadent and delicious about a good macaron. Until recently I’ve left the baking of a good macaron to those clever bakers in the know, but this recipe makes them very doable. Give them a go!

Fairy Bread Macarons

These temperamental little French cookies have been the all-too-real nightmare for many a chef and home cook. They’re the reason that Marie Antoinette said ‘let them eat cake’, and not ‘let them eat macarons’ . . .

Cook time: 20 mins. Prep and drying time: 1 hour. Makes 30 filled macarons

Ingredients

Macarons

  • 200g icing sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence or seeds from 1 vanilla pod
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 70ml water
  • Half a lemon
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 100s & 1000s

Filling

½ cup vanilla Buttercream Icing

Method

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Sift icing sugar and ground almonds into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz on high speed until a fine dust before sifting again.

Stir in the 3 egg whites and make a paste. Stir in vanilla.

Put caster sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil rapidly, until it reaches about 120°C, or until the little bubbles start to look thick, like lava bubbling.

Wipe inside of the kitchen mixer bowl with lemon half. Put egg whites into the bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. With the mixer on low speed, very slowly pour the hot sugar into the egg whites, then increase the speed to high and whisk until stiff and glossy.

Add one third of the meringue to almond paste and mix thoroughly.

Add the remaining meringue and gently fold together, folding at least 50 times.

Using a round nozzle on your piping bag, pipe evenly spaced circles about the size of a two-dollar coin, leaving room for the macarons to spread.

Bang the tray on the kitchen bench to knock the air out of the macarons and sprinkle with 100s & 1000s.

Leave to dry out on the tray for at least 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 120°C.

Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Sandwich macarons together with the buttercream icing.

They will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Buttercream Icing

Easy to make and super delicious, you can use buttercream icing to decorate cupcakes and cakes of any flavour and style. It is always best eaten at room temperature so that it melts in your mouth.

Prep time: 5–10 minutes. Makes approx. 500g (enough for one 23cm cake or 24 cupcakes)

Ingredients

  • 250g butter, chopped, at room temperature
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp essence or a few drops food colouring of your choice (optional)

Method

Whisk butter in a kitchen mixer (or use a hand-held beater at high speed) until very pale, scraping down the sides as you go. Lower speed and sift in icing sugar. Slowly add milk.

Once fully combined, add essence and colouring, if using. Whisk again at a high speed until light and fluffy.

To use, pipe onto cake or cupcakes before it begins to set, which during a Dunedin winter can happen quite quickly! This icing is best used the day of making.

Matt’s tip

As an alternative to the essence and food colouring, you can experiment with different additions. Try a tablespoon of Berry Coulis, Salted Caramel, chocolate sauce, or a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Some tips to make sure your macarons are a success

  • The finer you can get your icing sugar and almond mixture, the better the macaron finish will be.
  • Adding lemon juice while whipping the egg whites helps you to achieve stiff peaks – you can also use cream of tartar, which is also acidic.
  • Pour the sugar into the whipping egg whites in an even slow stream – too fast and your eggs will cook and go runny.
  • Powdered flavourings or pastes are better than essences, which will make your macarons too wet and stop them drying out properly on the tray.
  • Banging the tray of macarons on the bench removes any trapped air – if there are air bubbles the macarons will crack as they cook.
  • Your timing when combining the hot liquid sugar and egg whites needs to be very exact as if the sugar is not the right temperature when you pour it into the egg whites at soft peak stage your meringue won’t work.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, check the temperature of your sugar by using a fork to drop a small amount of it into a cup of water – if it forms a small firm ball it is at the right temperature.
  • You must fold the mixture at least 50 times to reach a consistency that will spread nicely and create macarons that are smooth on top – the mixture should be like lava as it drops off the spoon.
  • The drying stage will take longer in humid conditions, in some cases overnight.

There are many ways to mess them up but if you follow some simple rules then before you know it you will be an expert, inventing crazy new flavours to impress your friends.

 

Reproduced from The Tart Tin by Matt Cross, published by Potton & Burton, available nationwide