Vanilla & Salted Caramel Macarons

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This Mother’s Day I wanted to get my Mumma, the fabulous woman who bought me into the world something worthy of her fabulousness! If money was no option she’d be laden in gold, but sadly buying a house does not leave you with much spare income so as always I settled on doing what I do best, baking. With gold very much on my mind it was therefore only natural that this became my theme and Macarons soon became the chosen bake for their jewel-like appearance. Problem solved – she’ll be laden in gold after all.

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Makes: 12 Macarons 

Preparation time: 1 hour 

Baking time: 10-13 minutes 


Vanilla Macarons 

70g flaked almonds

140g icing sugar

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

50g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

 

Salted Caramel filling

75g Caster Sugar

2 tbsp Water

75g Light Muscovado Sugar

50g Unsalted Butter

100ml Double Cream

1/2tsp Flaked Salt


Vanilla Macarons Shells

Place the flaked almonds in a food processor and blitz for about a minute until as fine as possible. Add the confectioner sugar and process until combined.

In a super clean bowl pour one egg white and whisk in the tsp of vanilla bean paste. Beat this mixture into the almond icing sugar to make an almond paste. Set aside and cover with a tea towel.

In another super clean bowl whisk your second egg white until it holds soft peaks. Continue to whisk at a medium speed while adding the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time.

Beat on a medium speed for 2 minutes then increase to high for a final 2 minutes until the egg whites are holding stiff, glossy peaks.

Add the almond paste to your meringue mixture then using a spatula slowly fold them together from the bottom up. Continue this motion around 35-40 times until the mixture is fully incorporated and flows like molten lava.

Using a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, pipe rounds of mixture onto 2 heavy baking trays lined with baking parchment. Tap the trays on the work surface to remove any air bubbles, then leave them to dry for 30 minutes. They will be ready to bake when they are no longer sticky or wet when touched.

Preheat the oven to 140-150 degrees/Gas Mark 2 and bake on the middle shelf for 8 minutes. Open the oven to let out any steam and turn the sheets around then bake for a further 8 minutes until the tops are crisp. Leave them to cool fully before removing from the baking sheet.

Salted Caramel Filling

Put the caster sugar and water into a pan and simmer over a low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Bring to the boil until it turns to an amber colour, then remove from the heat and add the muscovado sugar, butter and cream. Stir it well to dissolve then return to the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until it thickens. Take off the heat and add the salt then pour into a bowl and leave until completely cold and thick.

Spread the filling over one macaron shell and sandwich together with another. Brush the top of each macaron with edible liquid gold and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.

These will store in an air tight container for a few days if kept in the fridge.

Espresso Mocha Macarons

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I remember my first espresso shot so very well. At about 19 years-old I had just finished a pre-theatre dinner an Italian restaurant. Maybe it was the pasta and wine I don’t know, but I was literally falling asleep at the table. I wouldn’t have made it 5 minutes in a dark cosy theatre; even with the orchestra playing (I can literally sleep anywhere). Something had to be done and pronto, so I ordered a double espresso with dessert.

Now I’m not sure if it was because it was my first, my mind playing tricks on me, or maybe just maybe it was because I ordered a double, but within 5 minutes my eyes were wide and I was nattering away with this sudden burst of energy. Needless to say it did the trick, and minus the slight tingling sensation I was able to enjoy the whole theatre performance. I don’t order them regularly, but ever since my love of coffee has grown – or perhaps it’s just the caffeine?

I’ve never really understood drinking coffee after an evening meal, as I’ve never quite grasped the need to flood my system with energy right before bedtime. However, the events of that evening left me with a taste for strong coffee so I decided to try these Espresso Mocha Macarons instead for after a meal. Dessert and Coffee in one – mini fist pump!

Unfortunately if you don’t like coffee there is no hiding from it here. With a generous teaspoon of espresso powder in the macaron mixture and a further two in the mocha buttercream it’s almost like having a double shot of espresso in itself. The sugar and egg whites calm it down though, so if you only like latte and cappuccino then do still give these a go.

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Makes 12

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Baking time: 13-15 minutes


70g flaked almonds

140g icing sugar

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

50g Caster sugar

1 tsp espresso powder

For the filling

40g unsalted butter

50g good quality dark chocolate

140g icing sugar

2 tsp espresso powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp almond milk


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and leave a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Place the flaked almonds in a food processor and blitz for about a minute until as fine as possible. Add the confectioner sugar and process until combined.

Pass the sugar/almond mixture through a sieve, pushing down on the clumps until all but roughly two tablespoons remain in the sieve. Leave to one side.

Whisk the egg whites and caster sugar with an electric whisk or KitchenAid on a high-speed, until they hold stiff, glossy peaks. Add the espresso powder, and whisk on a high-speed for 30 seconds

Add the dry ingredients all at once and fold with a spatula, mixing from the bottom of the bowl upwards. Repeat these folds until the batter flows like lava.

Place a piping bag inside a glass and pour the batter into it. Secure the top and snip the end to about 1cm. Pipe some batter onto the corners of 2 baking trays, both lined with parchment paper.

With the piping tip ½ inch above the tray, pipe circles about 3cm in diameter ensuring to leave 1 inch space between them. Tap the sheets firmly against the kitchen work surface to release any air bubbles.

Sift espresso powder over half of the unbaked batter and leave to sit for around 10 minutes (this allows the crust to form). Bake on the lower shelf of the oven for 10-13 minutes. Allow to cool completely before piping the filling.

For the buttercream, dissolve two teaspoons espresso powder with ½ teaspoon hot water then melt the dark chocolate. Leave both to cool. Mix icing sugar and butter together until combined then add the dark chocolate and espresso paste it, beating until fully incorporated. Finally add the tablespoon of almond milk and beat till fluffy.

Pour buttercream into a piping bag and pipe onto the flat side of the plain macaron rounds; top with the remaining half.

These will store in an air tight container for a few days if kept in the fridge.

Millionaire Shortbread Macarons

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Whenever I buy a lottery ticket there are three things that happen without fail every time. I don’t have my own numbers as I couldn’t bare it if I missed a week and they were picked, so instead I always ops for a lucky dip. The first thing I do when handed my ticket is check if the numbers are “good”, which is pure ignorance when you think of it as there is no such thing as a “good” number when they all have an equal chance. Nevertheless, I like to see an even distribution, none of this 22,23,24 business.

If satisfied with my selection, I start spending. Yes OKAY I am aware of my odds, but somebody has to be that 1 amongst the 14 million and you never know that one person could well be me. It’s with this little prep talk that I begin deciding which cities I will buy property, where my first holiday will be and who I’m giving some money to. Before I know I’ve spent half of my winnings and I know right there and then that I’m destined to be a millionaire.

Then comes the third. The numbers are drawn with not one single match and all my plans and dreams are left torn on the floor.

And that’s my tragic little story.

So until that lucky day comes, instead of winning millions you will find me baking it instead with these deliciously rich Millionaire Shortbread Macarons. And let me tell you, they taste as good as I’ve always imagined being a millionaire feels.

These Macarons are made by sandwiching both chocolate and vanilla macrons together, with a generous dollop of salted caramel ganache. Heavenly!

Millionaire Shortbread


Makes 15-20 Macarons

Preparation Time: 1-2 hours

Baking Time: 10-15 minutes


For Vanilla Macarons

200g Ground Almonds

200g Icing Sugar

2 Medium Egg Whites

Pinch of Salt

55g Caster Sugar

2 drops vanilla essence

For Chocolate Shortbread Macarons

Same as above but substitute Vanilla Essence for Coco Powder,

1 shortbread biscuit, crumbled

For Salted Caramel Ganache

75g Caster Sugar

2 tbsp Water

75g Light Muscovado Sugar

50g Unsalted Butter

100ml Double Cream

1/2tsp Flaked Salt


To make a basic macaron mixture, begin by sieving the ground almonds and icing sugar together until well combined.

For Chocolate Macarons mix the coco powder into the almond/icing combo.

In a super clean bowl pour in the egg whites and salt and whisk together until they hold soft peaks. Continue to whisk at a medium speed while adding the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time.

For vanilla flavouring, add the vanilla essence at this point.

Beat on a medium speed for 2 minutes then increase to high for a final 2 minutes until the egg whites are holding stiff, glossy peaks.

Pour in the almond/sugar mixture all at once then using a spatula slowly fold in the egg whites from the bottom up. Continue this motion around 35-40 times until the mixture is fully incorporated and flows like molten lava.

Using a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, pipe rounds of mixture onto 2 heavy baking trays lined with baking parchment. Tap the trays on the work surface to remove any air bubbles, then leave them to dry for 30 minutes. They will be ready to bake when they are no longer sticky or wet when touched.

For the Chocolate Shortbread Macarons, while the rounds are still wet sprinkle crushed shortbread over the top.

Preheat the oven to 140-150 degrees/Gas Mark 2 and bake on the middle shelf for 8 minutes. Open the oven to let out any steam and turn the sheets around then bake for a further 8 minutes until the tops are crisp. Leave them to cool fully before removing from the baking sheet.

For the Salted Caramel Ganache: Put the caster sugar and water into a pan and simmer over a low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Bring to the boil until it turns to an amber colour, then remove from the heat and add the muscovado sugar, butter and cream. Stir it well to dissolve then return to the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until it thickens. Take off the heat and add the salt then pour into a bowl and leave until completely cold and thick.

Spread the filling over the vanilla macaron shell and sandwich with the chocolate shells so they are on top.

Leave to rest then see how long you can make them last. We managed a little over an hour!