I was a little stumped when this month’s Mactweets theme was announced – Ballpark snacks. I mean, firstly, I have only ever attended one baseball game in my life (in my first year in Canada, Neil took me to the hockey, basketball and baseball, to Canadian-ize me) and it was the most boring thing I have ever witnessed. I can only remember having a beer at that game, no snacks and a beer macaron, whilst interesting, is a little beyond my skill set right now!
Also, I have already made a version of a ballpark snack-themed macaron for the International Incident Hotdog party – macdogs:
So my thinking cap was on. My mind immediately wandered to popcorn, specifically, Crackerjack or Crunch n’ Munch as we call it here in Canada – basically caramel coated popcorn and peanuts – and I wondered how I could “macaronize” this. Unfortunately, so did many other people and there are already a fair number of popcorn-themed macarons in the Mactweets entries. SO I decided to stretch my macaron talents and try my hand at macs made with ground peanuts and Crunch n’ Munch in the place of the almonds.
Malheureusement, my first attempt didn’t work so well because, well, the caramel melts in the oven, even when pulverized into a fine powder, and it resulted in pancake-flat macs with a chewey, toffee-like consistency and texture. Well, duh, yeah!
Next I tried 1/2 ground peanuts and 1/2 ground almonds and the first batch I piped were undermixed and turned out like little meringues. Delicious meringues but not macarons.
I re-beat the second half of the mixture and at the time of baking, I was convinced they didn’t work out. However, a week later, looking at them, I see they have feet. Not sure what I was thinking – I know that I piped them larger than I normally do so perhaps that’s why they appeared to be flatter and less successful.
I was fed up with failure (that was on my birthday too and I was feeling quite disheartened) so I decided that whilst I could not make beer-flavoured macarons, I would make mojito flavoured ones. Stella and Josie and I had all been talking about a Mojito Macaron party on Twitter and I felt I needed to make sure that I hadn’t lost my macaron touch, especially after I entitled my last macaron post “How to make macarons – what’s working for me now.” Ahem. I went back to my trusty recipe (actually it’s Stella’s trusty recipe) and lo and behold, I had macs with feet in no time. Lime shells, rum and mint buttercream:
The next day, I tried 1/3 peanuts and 2/3 almonds and finally this worked out for me. Even though it seems there are not many peanuts in there, they still taste VERY peanuty.
- 3 ounces (85g) blanched almonds
- 1 ounce (28g) roasted unsalted peanuts
- 8 ounces (230g) powdered/ icing sugar
- 5 ounces egg whites (144g), at room temperature
- 2½ ounce (72g) caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon powdered yellow food colouring
- Preheat the oven to 320°F.
- Place a large (14") pastry bag fitted with a plain tip upside down in a glass so that you can easily pour the batter in when it's ready to pipe.
- Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper and place each tray on top of another tray. I find the double trays help prevent the macarons from cooking too fast on the bottom.
- Grind the almonds and peanuts finely in a spice/ coffee grinder.
- Place the nuts and powdered sugar in a food processor and grind until well combined.
- Sift this mixture twice over a large bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and caster sugar and beat at a low speed (Kitchen Aid speed 2) for 2 minutes.
- Increase the speed to 4 and beat for another 2 minutes.
- Increase the speed again to 7 and beat for another 2 minutes.
- Add the food colouring and increase the speed to maximum and beat for one more minute.
- The egg whites should be very stiff at this point. When you remove the whisk attachment, there should be a big clump of meringue in the centre, just knock the whisk against the bowl to knock it free.
- Add the dry ingredients to the meringue, all at once and fold them in. To successfully incorporate the dry ingredients in the meringue, you need to use both a folding motion and a pressing motion. You are aiming to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl.
- After about 25 strokes your mixture will still be quite lumpy. From here on in, take it stroke by stroke so as to not over beat the mixture. Evaluate your batter one stroke at a time.
- Basically, the macaron batter needs to be thick enough that it will mound up on itself, but fluid enough that after about 20 seconds, it will melt back down.Think lava.
- Pour about half the batter to a piping bag and pipe the batter in small circles on the tray. When I pipe macarons, I hold the bag at an angle, with the tip always touching the tray. When I have piped enough for one macaron, I make a comma-like movement to remove the tip from the tray. That little comma-shaped bit of batter will settle down when it bakes, don't worry .
- The batter will spread a tiny bit, but don't panic - it's ok!
- Bake for 6 minutes, one tray at a time, then turn the tray from front to back for another 6 minutes. You'll be able to tell at the 6 minute mark if your macs will succeed - the feet will have formed by then.
- Cool thoroughly, then remove the cooled macarons from the parchment paper.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with the filling of your choice and pipe a quarter sized mound of buttercream into half of the shells, then sandwich them with the other half.
- Even though you will want to taste them right away, macarons actually get better with age. The shells soften and become more chewy, mingling with the flavor of the filling too. You can store them in cool place for up to a week. If you store them in the fridge, bring them to room temperature before you eat them.