Macaron Madness + Homemade Caramel

This post is actually written 1st December – I think WordPress is in American settings and I cannot be bothered to change it 🙂

*Cough* *Cough*

*Sniffle*

Hello all, here I am home sick from school with a lot to tell. But before let me tell you two things

  1. It is the 1st of December – THE JOLLY SEASON IS OFFICIALLY HERE!
  2. It is good to get sick before your formal – formal countdown = 11 days to go!!!

Ok cool, now I can tell you all about everything. Yesterday after school, my awesome cooking teacher Ms D held a Macaron Baking Afternoon! Just like the meringue tower and the fruitcake, this was also an end of year finale event, and although only 4 of us students were able to make it, it was fantastic!
She had set out an array of different colourings and essences (dudes, I am talking apricot colours, coffee coloured with brandy essence – whatever you wanted to make and mess with people’s minds!!!) and our task was:

ATTEMPT TO MAKE A MACARON TREE!

114Yes, that is correct, you heard me right BUT…

I am sorry to say that due to my sickness, I was forced to leave so while I got my batch of macarons (and how funny they look but how delicious they taste – more on that later) and my filling done, even got my pot painted for the tree, I was unable to assemble and I am not sure when I will be able to if at all! If my friends will allow me to, I will post up some of their pictures of their trees when I get the photos 🙂
Fingers crossed though that I can do my own…

Right now though, I can give you a crash course on macarons – what I learnt, what I did and how much fun it was 🙂

My teacher told us that her daughter and her attempted to make macarons in 45 minutes using shortcuts due to time barriers – do not do it – if you do not have 3-4 hours to spare, do not start making these egg white cookies? Biscuits? Macarons. You cannot do anything quickly, you cannot use shortcuts – unlike pies, cakes and brownies, they do not exist – just check out Macaron goddess Tartlette for confirmation on how wonderfully patient you must be in making these!

Anyway, so we started off making the filling first – let me tell you now that should, no when, I attempt macarons again, I will be making a simple ganache of buttercream because this marshmallow style filling was simply too involving and not too resulting – and this is where the homemade caramel came in!

312You see, I really wanted to make homemade caramel and this was my first chance and like many first chance-ers, I eagerly followed the recipe to the T which ended up with my first ever burnt caramel. I won’t go into details except say ‘dodgy candy thermometers’ – do I need to say anything else?
For the caramel part of this recipe, it is absolutely necessary that you take the caramel off as soon as it begins to turn slightly golden or even if just around the edges – otherwise the dark amber or even medium golden ONLY works for homemade caramels, sauces etc. NOT HERE! My sugar actually continued to caramelise after taking it off the oven – it literally went from golden to black in the blink of an eye!

Second time around = fine caramel. Phew. – Be sure that the egg whites have been beaten beforehand because you need to add in the hot caramel as soon as it is off the stove (otherwise you get hard like a rock candy pieces – a killer to clean!)

Filling finally made (see the entire! procedure down below), macaron making time – may I just say that note this: You need a nice rounded tip for piping – Ms didn’t have any at the time my friend and I were ready to pipe and only found them later so hehe… we had swirling tip macarons – do not laugh!! Next time, I would even prefer just to cut a plastic bag with a large enough hole, just so the macarons come out perfectly 😛

215Now, you know how I mentioned the amazing essences and flavours Ms D brought in? Here is a list of some of the crazy things which happened in the kitchen – remember that the filling in between when finally made was raspberry flavoured 😀

  1. Blue Macarons = Strawberry Essence
  2. 121Hot Pink Macarons = Aniseed (liquorice) Essence
  3. White Macarons = Coffee Essence
  4. Purple Macarons = Orange Essence
  5. 81Green Macarons = ? (the only one I can’t remember!!! – If/When I do, I shall update!)
  6. Apricot Macarons = Coconut Essence
  7. 115Pale Pink Macarons = Strawberry Essence
  8. Brown Macarons = Chocolate Essence

Anyways, I think I basically blabbing on about the actual recipe in random parts when I COULD be actually giving you the recipe! So here it is – A Macaron Tree That Should Have Been

Macaron Tree
Source: School Recipes

Makes: 28 filled macarons

Ingredients/Equipment

Macarons:

  • 225g pure icing sugar (do not use mixture)
  • 130g almond meal
  • 3 egg whites
  • 60g caster sugar
  • Essence to taste
  • Few drops food colouring

Filling:

  • 120g caster sugar
  • 250ml raspberry puree
  • 1 tsp glucose
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 sheets titanium strength gelatine leaves (1 leaf = 1 tsp, original recipe called for 2 1/2 tsp but the mixture becomes too jelly-like)
  • 50ml thickened cream, slightly whipped

Buttercream (To stick macarons onto trees)

  • 85g butter, room temperature
  • 100g pure icing sugar, sifted

‘Tree’ Equipment

  • 1 small terracotta pot
  • 1 long wooden pole
  • Plaster paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint
  • Toothpicks
  • Approximately13cm diameter Styrofoam balls
  • 400g + Chocolate melts

Method

Filling:

  1. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form
  2. Pour the sugar, glucose and 40ml water into a saucepan
  3. Stir until sugar dissolves and then let boil, brushing down the sides with a wet pastry brush to remove sugar crystals
  4. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture just begins to tint yellow
  5. Immediately take off heat and slowly trickle into egg white mixture, beating continuously on high speed
  6. Beat 8-10 minutes or until meringue is completely cool
    ***Note: If your meringue looks slightly creamy pink, it just means your sugar was caramelised when you put it in and that is completely fine – if your meringue is white then your sugar wasn’t and that is fine too
  7. Dissolve the gelatine in a saucepan over low heat with 50ml raspberry puree
  8. Remove from heat and mix in remaining puree
  9. Fold into meringue mixture with cream then place in fridge to set – approximately 1 hour

Macarons:

  1. Preheat oven to 120 degrees C
  2. Sift icing sugar and almond meal into a large bowl
  3. Sift this mixture into a second large bowl
  4. Sift this mixture once more into the original large bowl (making a total of 3 times of sifting)
  5. Beat egg whites until doubled in size and then slowly add in caster sugar until glossy mixture and firm peaks form
  6. Mix through (not beat) essences and food colouring
  7. Fold almond meal mixture into meringue until it is and glossy with a slightly liquid texture almost
  8. 101Place into a piping bag with a ROUND nozzle and pipe 3-4 cm diameter circles onto a baking tray lined with baking paper
  9. Let sit for 20 minutes until a skin forms on top of the Macarons
  10. Bake macarons until they can be lifted from their tray – The recipe says 20 minutes but mine took approximately 35 minutes so just start checking at 20 minutes to be sure
  11. 91Remove from oven and let cool completely

Pot Plant Assembly

  1. Mix up plaster paint according to package instructions
  2. Pour into terracotta pots until halfway up
  3. 47Place the wooden pole into the plaster and hold upright until just set and then place a wire rack on top to hold steady (slide it down the pole)
  4. Once completely set, paint the pot and wooden pole which ever colour desired
  5. While paint is drying, melt the chocolate in a saucepan over a double boiler
  6. 55Paint the Styrofoam balls until completely covered in chocolate and let set (hold them up by a toothpick and clamp the toothpick between two objects so it doesn’t move)
  7. Once everything is dry, carefully ease a foam ball onto the pole until half way through

‘Tree’ Assembly

  1. Buttercream: Beat the butter and sugar together until a smooth, glossy mixture forms. Place into a piping bag
  2. Take the filling out of the fridge and stir briskly until loose and smooth with a spreadable consistency. Place into another piping bag
  3. Pipe the filling onto 1 tray of macarons. Sandwich each macaron by placing one of similar size on top of the other and slightly gently screwing on
  4. Let set in fridge for 5-10 minutes
  5. At the back of each macaron, pipe a little buttercream frosting
  6. Stick onto the foam ball covered in hardened chocolate, holding it there until it is steady
  7. Place a toothpick underneath the macaron (if it is too big and sticks out, cut the toothpicks in half) to act as support
  8. Continue this pattern until no more foam ball space remains. Enjoy!!!

62Now you see why Ms D is so brilliant? Shhh… do not tell anyone but tomorrow we are throwing a surprise party for her!!! We are all baking for her and surprising her in class – so sick or not, I am going to bake for her today so be ready for another post!

I hope I can go – fingers crossed!!!

Judgement:

  • Would I make macarons again? Although I find their texture a little weird and I find them a little two sweet even for me, I would make them again for the fun of it 🙂
  • Would I make this recipe again? Probably not with gourmets like Tartlette out there who have experiences staple recipes but I don’t mind the macaron – the filling is no way though, no matter how delicious!
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