Ok, so I’m not sure how it is nearly December, but it is. Like, on Saturday it’s here. This year has simultaneously dragged by and flown past, but for the most part, it’s been a good one. I’ve been working my wee butt off prepping a bunch of Christmas posts for you (last year I left it all till the week before Christmas and it was NOT a wise move), so this year I’m hoping to be a little more prepared. Check back in about two weeks where I probs would have left it till the end and will be scrambling to post everything I’ve been planning for a whole year. Lol.
Amidst the crazy I did have time to pop over to Jase’s yesterday to make macarons! We made these little numbers - a toasted sugar vanilla bean shell, with a caramelised white chocolate German buttercream. Oye. We started off the day by totally ruining a batch, which I think was a good reminder that if macarons can smell cockyness, they will fail on you. The batter was over-mixed, so they spread and held hands in the oven, and it was just a general shit show. Happens to everyone. The next batch we were much more careful with (as you have to be with macs) and they turned out pretty damn perfect if you ask me!
Jase toasted a whole bunch of sugar recently, using Stella’s method, so we subbed the sugar in the shells for toasted sugar, and upped the Vanilla bean content. The toastyness of the sugar in the shells is subtle, but gives a light caramel flavour. We then filled them with a caramelised white chocolate German buttercream, which complimented the toasted sugar perfectly. Someone recently described German buttercream as “room temperature ice cream” which I think is the perfect description. I love how silky it is, how easily it can be infused, and how well it lends itself to additions such as melted chocolate. It’s by far my fave buttercream - if you haven’t tried it before, you should definitely get onto it. The flavouring in these is definitely a little more subtle than other macs we have done, but I think they are super delicious, and I hope you do too!
A few wee tips:
- The recipe for toasted sugar is here. There’s no point re-writing it when Stella does a Stellar (lol, sorry) job of it.
- The sugar may clump up a little when stored, so sieve it if needed.
- When adding the melted caramelised white chocolate to the german buttercream, you need to make sure that it is cooled, otherwise your buttercream becomes soup very very quickly.
- We used Valrhona’s Dulcey Caramelised white chocolate (it comes in both a bar and feves), but you can also make your own! Edd has a great tutorial here.
- As per, the post with all of my macaron tips and tricks is here - I add to it as we work things out!
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Toasted Sugar Vanilla Bean Macarons with Caramelised White Chocolate German Buttercream
- 170g ground almonds
- 300g powdered sugar
- 180g egg whites, at room temperature
- 160g toasted sugar (see tips for recipe)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Caramelised White Chocolate German Buttercream
- 190g whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 110g Toasted sugar
- 12g (1 ½ Tbsp) cornstarch
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 340g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 200g Caramelised white chocolate, (see tips) melted and cooled to room temperature
- Preheat oven to 300˚f / 150˚c, and position the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Using a round cookie cutter or the base of a large piping tip (something about 1.5 inches in diameter), draw a "template" for your macarons on a piece of parchment paper, leaving about ¾" between each circle.
- Combine the almond meal and powdered sugar together in a large bowl. Sift the mixture twice, to ensure there are no large lumps and that the mixture is properly aerated. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the mixer speed, and whip on high until the meringue starts to firm up. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Continue to whip until the meringue forms stiff peaks (there is a good example here).
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the ground almond and powdered sugar mixture, and fold into the meringue. You want to deflate the meringue just a little at this stage, to combine the meringue and ground almond mixture.
- Add the remaining ground almond mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Again, this video does a good job of explaining it. Fold the mixture in a series of 'turns', deflating the batter by spreading it against the side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the movement - scooping the batter from the bottom of the bowl, and spreading it against the side. Continuously check the consistency of the batter - you want it to flow like lava when you lift the spatula from the bowl, and you should be able to 'draw' a figure 8 with it, without the batter breaking (again, watch lots of videos to get an idea! They help so much). This step can take some practice until you know what it should feel and look like. If in doubt you are better to under mix them than over mix them - the process of putting the batter into the bag and piping out will help mix a little too.
- Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an ateco #805. Place the macaron template on a sheet pan, and place a second piece of parchment over it. Holding the piping bag at a 90˚ angle to the surface, pipe out the batter into blobs the size of the circles drawn on the template. Finish off each piped circle with a little "flick" of your wrist to minimise the batter forming a point (it will still form a small one, but we can get rid of this with banging). Remove the template from under the macarons.
- Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the bench. Repeat this a few more times - this will get rid of any air bubbles, remove points on the top, and help them to spread out slightly.
- Repeat the piping and banging process until you have used up all of the batter - I usually make three sheet pans worth.
- Allow the macarons to dry at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes, or until they form a skin that you can touch without your finger sticking to them. This time will drastically vary depending on the humidity.
- About fifteen minutes before you are going to bake the macarons, place a spare sheet pan in the oven to preheat - this is going to be used to place under the pan with the macarons on it, to double up, which should help with even baking. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time - place the sheet with the macarons on the preheated sheet, and place in the oven.
- Bake for approximately 18 minutes, rotating the pan once during the cooking process, and checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The macarons should develop a foot (the ruffled part on the bottom of the macaron), and bake without browning. To see if they are done - press down lightly on a shell. If the foot gives way, it needs a little longer, if it is stable, then it is close to being done. Test a macaron shell - if you can peel it away cleanly from the paper, they are done. If they are stable but cannot yet peel away cleanly, give them another minute or so. Again, this part takes a little trial and error depending on your oven. If they seem done but do not peel away cleanly, do not worry - there is a little trick for that!
- Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before peeling off the parchment paper and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the baking with the remaining trays, using the same spare sheet pan to double up.
- If your macs do not peel away cleanly, place them, on the parchment paper, into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then peel away from the paper.
- Store cooled macarons in an airtight container until ready to use.
CARAMELISED WHITE CHOCOLATE GERMAN BUTTERCREAM
- In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.
- Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan.
- Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow container or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold - at least four hours. If you need to speed this process up, you can place the pastry cream in a quarter sheet baking sheet, press a layer of plastic wrap on to the surface, and either freeze or refrigerate until cold, stirring occasionally.
- Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment, and place the pastry cream in the bowl. Whip the mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. It may look curdled at some point but just keep whipping - it will come together! Once the buttercream is homogenous, add the cooled melted caramelised white chocolate and mix well to combine. Store in an airtight container until ready to use, or if using immediately, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
- Pair up each macaron shell with another of an equal size. Pipe a blog of buttercream on one half of the shell, then place the second shell carefully on top. Repeat with the rest of the macarons. Macarons are best chilled overnight to allow the flavours to meld, but can also be eaten immediately.