Hot Cross Bun Macarons

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When it comes to Easter, while I could happily spend all bank holiday stuffing my face with chocolate eggs, these days what I find even more indulging is settling down with a cuppa and a warm, sticky, Hot Cross Bun toasted straight from the oven.

The rich, spicy smell is so comforting that filling my house with the scent of buns baking is almost a necessity at this time of year. However after much deliberation I decided this year I would try something a little different.

Macarons are one of my favourite things to bake and have become somewhat of a staple since the launch of My Kitchen Drawer Made to Order business, therefore they became an obvious choice for my “something a little different”.

For those of you unfamiliar, Hot Cross Buns are traditional English Easter treats which are baked and eaten on Good Friday to commemorate Jesus who died on the cross: hence the recognisable cross along their tops.

If you like cinnamon, nutmeg, citrus zest, and in the case of these beauties, macarons, then these are most certainly worth indulging in this Easter! They are also perfect as gifts and make a fantastic alternative to the more commonly gifted chocolate eggs.

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Makes: 12 Macarons 

Preparation time: 1 hour 

Baking time: 10-13 minutes 


Spiced Macaron Shells

70g flaked almonds

140g icing sugar

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

50g caster sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp all-spice

1tsp orange zest

Cinnamon and Brown Sugar filling

50g light Muscovado Sugar

70g unsalted Butter

200g icing sugar

1tsp ground cinnamon


Spiced 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, cinnamon, orange zest and allspice then 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.

To create the iconic cross, melt your white chocolate in a microwave or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water then transfer it into a heat resistant piping bag (available at Lakeland). Pipe the crosses onto each macaron and leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes before adding the filling.

Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Filling

Blend together butter, brown sugar and icing sugar to create a smooth buttercream. Add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon and combine then spread the filling over one macaron shell and sandwich together with another.

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

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.