I absolutely love baking. I love how it calms my mind after a stressful day – the precision of the measuring and technique distracts me from all the worries and life’s to-do lists. In the moment, it’s just you and the recipe and the wooden spoon. One of my favourite things to do lately when baking, is it create hybrid desserts. It sounds sciency, but it’s basically ‘smooshing’ two recipes together to create one super dessert. In the big food world, they call these ‘Double Desserts’ and I have written about them before. What’s better than one dessert? Well, two. Duh. There is no logic in the world, that could find fault in that conclusion.
Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that my favourite holiday is Easter. Chocolate AND fluffy bunnies? Who doesn’t like chocolate and bunnies! But I also love hot cross buns and even though we get them all year round, I flat out refuse to eat them at any other time, except the month leading up to Easter. Toasted with oozy melty butter, thanks. This got me to thinking what else I could infuse with delicious hot cross bun flavour. So, I give you, the hot cross bun macaron!
If you have ever made macarons you will know that the experience has lots of ups and downs. It’s filled with ‘yay’s!’ and ‘oh-no-what-am-I-doing’s’ and afterwards you never seem to remember how unpleasant the experience really was. So when I decided to concoct these, I was excited – and obviously delusional. Humming away to myself I measured out all the ingredients and got to work. Then it started; I remembered the dozens of blogs and articles I’d read as well as the comments made by fellow chefs about these little monsters and how tricky they are to get right. Not to mention how many burst or flat macarons had emerged from my own oven during my numerous recipe attempts! I was promised that this was The One; the best macaron recipe. So my optimism won – this time. I remember my grandmother always used to say a little prayer when she slid something into her oven and I used to think it completely silly until of course it came time to put my macarons in the oven. Yes, I was praying for these macarons. They not only had me praying, they had me sitting on the floor in front of my oven embroiled in a staring match with them, to make sure they rose perfectly. So not only were they making me religious, now the macarons were making me down right crazy too.
Having lost years of my life during the baking process, they emerged from my oven perfectly. This recipe really makes the perfect macaron so do give it a try – despite me taking years off my life with the amount of stressing, it’s very hard to flop. But just incase, say a little prayer as you put them in your oven!
Hot Cross Bun Macarons
Makes 50 A LITTLE EFFORT
120g ground almonds
200g icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
100g egg whites (about 3 large eggs)
1/4tsp cream of tartar
35g white sugar
Orange White Chocolate Ganache:
1 tbsp butter
peel of 1 orange
250g white chocolate, chopped
Line 2-3 baking sheets with baking paper. Sift together the ground almonds and icing sugar to remove any clumps. Blend any leftover mixture then sift again until nothing remains. Stir in the spices. Begin beating the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed. Once the egg whites are very foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat. Increase the speed to medium, if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. Add about 1/4 of the almond/sugar mixture and fold until no streaks remain. Continue to add the almond mixture in quarters, folding until incorporated. Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a fluted nozzle and pipe rows of batter onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread. Tap the pan on the counter to bring up any air bubbles and quickly pop them with a toothpick. Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 30-60 minutes until they are no longer tacky to a light touch. While they rest, place an oven rack in the lower 3rd of your oven and preheat to 150C (conventional). Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes. Make the ganache by heating the cream, Stork Bake and orange peel together until just simmering. Set aside for 1 hour to infuse before heating again and pouring over the white chocolate. Stir until melted then allow to set until spreadable. Sandwich the macarons together with the ganache.