Macarons (makes 12 large, sandwiched macarons)
150g (51/2 oz) almond flour
150g (51/2 oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
110g (4 oz) liquefied egg whites
150g (51/2 oz) granulated sugar
37g (11/4 oz) water (yes, grams!)
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 tsp strawberry flavouring
5 drops pink food gel (I use Chef master deep pink)
Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)
175 g (1 1/3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
225 g (1 ¼ cups) caster (superfine) sugar
50 g (2 tbsp) cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ tsp fine salt
175 g (¾ cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
175 ml (¾ cups) full-cream (whole) milk
Ganache Frosting (enough for 12 cupcakes)
350g (2 cups) good quality dark or milk chocolate chips
50g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
175ml (½ cup) thick (double/heavy) cream
You'll need 1/4 batch of my buttercream frosting
12 maraschino cherries
Combine the chocolate, butter and cream in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high, for 30 seconds at a time, mixing between each interval until smooth. Once fully melted, cover with plastic wrap and leave to set.
Alternatively, you can use the double-boiler method. Fill a large saucepan one-third of the way with water and bring to the boil. Place the chocolate, butter and cream in a large glass or metal mixing bowl and set it over the pan, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Gently stir the mixture until it is completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and leave to set at room temperature.
To soften the ganache to spreading or piping consistency, microwave on high for 10 seconds at a time, mixing well between each interval, until it becomes soft enough to spread easily but firm enough to hold its shape. If you soften it too much, don’t panic, just let it sit at room temperate again until it firms up enough to use.
Line two baking trays with silicone baking mats or baking paper (not greaseproof paper). If you’re using baking paper, you can dab the baking trays with a little of the macaron batter once you’ve made it. This will help the baking paper stick so that it doesn’t fly around in the oven and ruin your macarons.
Combine the almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse 4–5 times, or until well combined. (Take care not to pulse too many times, otherwise you’ll risk releasing the oils in the almonds.) Pulsing these ingredients does two things: it helps to get rid of any lumps in the sugar and to help grind the almond flour to a finer consistency. Alternatively, you can sift the two ingredients together. This must be done at least three times.
Transfer the almond mixture to a large, clean glass or metal mixing bowl. Add half the liquefied egg whites and use a spatula to mix everything together until the mixture forms a paste. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature.
To make the sugar syrup, combine the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan. Give it a very gentle stir with a teaspoon to make sure they’re well combined. After this point, don’t mix the syrup again. Bring to a boil over a medium–high heat, then reduce the heat a little and simmer. As the syrup bubbles away, it will splatter small bubbles of sugared water on the side of the pan. Use a pastry brush dabbed in a little bit of water to brush those bubbles back into the syrup. This will help prevent the syrup from crystallising.
For this recipe, you’ll need a sugar thermometer to help you measure the temperature of the syrup. When the syrup reaches 115°C (239°F), add the remaining egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start whisking them on medium–high speed to help break them apart and get them frothy.
When the syrup reaches 118°C (244°F), carefully pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a slow and steady stream. Start by whisking on a medium speed for 1 minute, then increase the speed to high and whisk until the egg whites become frothy. Please be careful when doing this part, number one because the syrup is hot, but also if you add your syrup too quickly, you’ll cook the egg whites and they’ll turn to soup. Once you’ve poured all the sugar syrup into the egg whites, continue whisking on high speed for about 3 minutes before adding the vanilla extract. It’s at this point that you can also add the strawberry flavouring and pink food gel. The macarons need to be bright pink. So if it looks like it needs more food gel, add more.
Continue whisking on high speed for another 4–5 minutes. Once the meringue has become thick and glossy and has cooled down almost to room temperature, stop the mixer and gently scrape down the bowl, then whisk on high speed for another couple of minutes.
The next part is the mixing stage, otherwise known as ‘macaronage’, and is super important. It’s where most people go wrong – including me, until I took a trip to Paris and was physically shown how to do it by a French pastry chef.
Grab a spatula full of the meringue and fold it into the almond-sugar mixture until well combined. This allows the mixture to thin out a little before you add the rest of the meringue. Different people mix macaron batter in different ways; some count the amount of times they mix, but I think it’s better to know what consistency to look out for. I like to go around the bowl with my spatula and then through the middle. You want to continue doing that until you reach the ‘ribbon stage’. The ribbon stage is when the batter falls off the spatula in a ribbon and disappears into the rest of the batter after about 10 seconds. That’s when you know the batter is ready to pipe. If you over mix the batter, it will thin out too much and you’ll have to start again.
Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe rounds of batter, about 5cm in diameter, on the trays, being sure to space them 2 cm apart. Gently tap the tray on your work surface. This will help remove any air bubbles that might be lurking in your batter. It’s at this stage that you can add any small sprinkles or freeze-dried berries on top.
The next thing you want to do is let your macarons dry out in the open air for about 30 minutes to 1 hour (the drying time depends on the weather or how much humidity is in the air). Drying your macarons helps them to form a skin. The skin is super important because it means that when you bake your macarons and the steam escapes from the shells, it will escape from the bottom, not the top, forming the iconic ‘feet’ on your macarons. So, when you can gently touch your uncooked macarons and they’re not sticky to the touch, you know they’re ready to bake. Ten minutes before the end of the drying time, preheat a fan-forced oven to 140°C (275°F) or a conventional oven to 160°C (320°F).
Place each tray of macarons, one at a time, in the centre of the oven and bake for 12 minutes. If you feel your oven is causing the macarons to brown on one side (usually the side closest to the fan), turn the tray around about halfway through. Once they’re baked, let them cool completely before you try to remove them from the tray.
To finish your macarons, fit the end of a piping tip with a Wilton 8B piping tip and frost a swirl of frosting around half the macarons, then sandwich with another macaron shell. If you’re making these in advance
Preheat a fan-forced oven to 140°C (275°F) or a conventional oven to 160°C (320°F). Line a cupcake tin with white cupcake liners. I buy mine from Confetta in Sydney. The measurements of the liners I use are: Bottom: 5cm, Height: 4cm, Top: 7.5cm. The measurements are important to ensure the macarons and overall design of the cupcake look right.
Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt to a large mixing bowl. Mix on low speed with a hand mixer until combined.
Next, add the softened butter and continue mixing on low speed until the mixture reaches a crumbly, sand-like texture. Depending on the humidity. The mixture may resemble a dough rather than be crumbly. That’s completely fine.
Add the eggs while the mixer is on low speed. Allow them to mix in before you add the milk and mix again until all the ingredients are incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix for a final 20 seconds.
Fill each liner a little more than three-quarters of the way. Using an ice-cream scoop to transfer the batter to the cupcake liners makes this a quick and easy process, and ensures each liner contains exactly the same amount of batter and that the cupcakes will bake evenly. Bake for 40–50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Fit the end of a piping bag with a medium round tip. Pipe a small blob of ganache on top.
Stick the completed macarons on top.
Fit the end of a piping bag with an open star tip and pipe a small swirl of buttercream on top of each macaron. Add a maraschino cherry on top to finish.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR CUPCAKES!
STORAGE: store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (refrigerated or unrefrigerated).
CAKE: Recipe can be used for one 8” cake tin - adjust baking time to 30-40 min and bake on 180C
EQUIPMENT: Can be made using a hand mixer (always mix on lowest speed) or a hand whisk. Take care not to over mix the batter.
OVEN TEMPERATURE: If you’re baking at home set your fan forced oven to 160C (320F).
BAKING TIME: These cupcakes typically bake on a lower temp and for a little longer than regular cupcake recipes. That’s what helps get that gorgeous even dome shape on top. The cupcakes don’t dry out. Bake your cupcakes for 20 min. If you insert a skewer and it comes out with wet batter, bake for an extra 5 min until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR MACARONS:
Before you start:
1. Trays (lined with baking paper NOT grease proof paper)
2. Eggs - separate egg whites from the yolks and allow them to sit in the fridge for a couple hours. These must be measured accurately.
3. Sift almond and sugar together (if you don’t have a food processor)
STORAGE: store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (refrigerated or unrefrigerated).
AGEING YOUR EGGS: Egg whites will liquefy if you sit them in the fridge for several days, preferably a week. During that time, the egg whites lose their elasticity, the albumen breaks down and they will be much easier to whisk to soft peaks without turning "grainy".
HALVING THE RECIPE: This recipe can not be halved! Share them with your family and friends people!
EQUIPMENT: You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe to know the exact time to take the syrup off the heat. They can be purchased on Amazon or from your local cake supply store.
Large mixing bowls
Magic Whisk for wet ingredients
Stand mixer (or hand mixer)
Cupcake baking tin
Ice cream scoop (optional)