So I'm pretty addicted to GBBO: Creme de la Creme, and this week they made macarons (that weren't allowed to be circular). I love macarons (as does my boyfriend), so it seemed like an opportunity to make another kind. I've previously made festive spiced and chocolate & raspberry macarons, and used a very similar recipe. The only difference - duck eggs! As seen from my post last week, duck eggs are incredible for sponges and I wondered how they'd be for making meringues (which are needed to make the macarons).
The result? Perfection :) Lovely a crisp to bite through with a soft chewy centre. They're best the day after you've baked and filled the macarons as the shells soften slightly.
I added cocoa to the macarons to give it a cocoa flavour and filled the macarons with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting and a liquid salted caramel filling. If you want an extra chocolatey note, you could drizzle some dark chocolate over the top of the macarons :)
From start to finish these took me two hours - the only difficult part is patience when whisking the egg whites and sugar syrup - keep going until the meringue forms glossy peaks! Also be patient when waiting for the skin to form - if you don't the macarons will crack in the oven.
Makes around 24 macarons (I made mine around 3cm long rectangles, but you can do standard circles if you wish).
For the macarons:
- 150g (1 & 1/4 cups) ground almonds
- 10g (1 & 1/2 tbsp) cocoa powder (the best quality you can afford)
- 175g (1 & 1/2 cups) icing sugar
- 4 (125ml/1/2 cup) medium duck egg whites
- 165g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 50ml (3 tbsp and 1 tsp) water
For the peanut butter filling:
- 125g (1/2 cup) peanut butter (I used crunchy for extra texture)
- 60g (1/2 cup & 2 tsp) icing sugar
- 30g (2 tbsp) softened butter
- 50g (3 tbsp) cream cheese (full fat)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 tsp milk (optional)
For the liquid salted caramel:
- 60ml (1/4 cup) double cream
- 1 tsp softened butter
- 75g (1/3 cup & 2 tsp) granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt (I used freshly ground Himalayan salt)
1. Place the ground almonds, cocoa and icing sugar in a food processor (or high power blender) and blitz for 2-3 second bursts, until the mixture is very fine and the cocoa is evenly distributed. Be careful not to blitz for too long as the almonds can turn to butter!
2. Sieve the almonds/cocoa/icing sugar into a large bowl. Add 2 of the egg whites, and beat until a smooth paste is formed.
3. Heat the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Then stop stirring and place a sugar thermometer in the pan. In a grease-free bowl, add the remaining two egg whites. Once the sugar/water has reached 112C, start whisking the egg whites (I tend to use a hand-held electric whisk, but a stand mixer would be even easier!).
4. Once the sugar/water syrup has reached 118C, the egg whites should be white and frothy (like shaving foam). Carefully pour the syrup onto the egg whites, whisking constantly. Be very careful not to touch the syrup as it is super hot! Keep whisking until the mixture is shiny and forms peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mixture (this should take between 5 and 7 minutes).
5. Use a metal spoon to fold a third of the egg white mixture into the almond/cocoa/sugar paste. Once incorporated, gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
6. Fill a piping bag with the macaron mixture, and cut off 1cm from the end (or use a large round nozzle). Grease and line three baking trays with parchment paper and hold the piping bag vertically above where you want to pipe. Pipe 3cm lines of macarons, leaving at least 2cm between each macaron.
7. Tap the tray on the surface a few times, then leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, until a "skin" has formed on the macarons - this means that when you gently touch the macaron, no mixture goes on your finger.
8. Preheat the oven to 170c (150c fan)/ 340F/ gas mark 3. Before you place the baking trays into the oven, tap the trays against the surface again. This gives the perfect "foot" of a macarons. Bake the macarons for 8-10 minutes - keep an eye on them after 8 minutes in case they are browning too much. Remove the macarons from the oven and transfer the macarons (with the baking paper still attached) to a wire rack to cool.
9. To make the peanut butter filling, sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the peanut butter, softened butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract and beat until all of the sugar has been incorporated. If the mixture looks very stiff add a few teaspoons of milk. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large piping nozzle (a 1M large star nozzle would work well, or use a disposable piping bag and cut the end off about 1cm from the tip).
10. Make the liquid salted caramel. Pour the granulated sugar into a saucepan and place on a low heat. Keep an eye on the sugar, swirling the pan occasionally (but do not stir it!). After around 5 minutes, the sugar will be a light brown colour and be bubbling.
11. Once brown take off the heat and add the butter. Whisk until melted, then pour in the cream. Whisk continuously. If the caramel becomes lumpy, place back on a low heat and whisk until the caramel has dissolved.
12. Pour the caramel sauce through a sieve into a bowl and allow to cool (for at least 10-15 minutes).
13. Once the macarons are cooled, start the assembly by flipping half over so that their bases point upwards.
14. Pipe a line of buttercream over each macaron that has been flipped.
15. Pour the caramel into another piping bag fitted with a small piping nozzle (a No.1 wilton tip/standard piping nozzle will work). Pipe a small amount of caramel over the "peanut buttercream". Top with a non-flipped macaron shell.
16. Pipe the remaining caramel sauce over the macarons.
17. Enjoy! (They are best eaten the next day so can be fully enjoyed then).