Birthday Macarons – You can never have too many sprinkles…

Soooooo I made some Birthday Macarons for my good friend Sonia. Because our friendship is characterised by laughter, fun and whimsy, I thought that these Birthday Macarons with Vanilla Sprinkles Buttercream would be the best way to reflect this. Macarons were the perfect present for someone who was gluten intolerant and the added confetti sprinkles on top made them quite the celebration treat, don’t you think?

Gravity defying!

As a child I loved fairy bread and often upped the ration of sprinkles to bread X infinity. As you do… because sprinkles are not only cutely colourful but they make you feel happy! This buttercream was reminiscent of those delicious memories and, while the sprinkles don’t actually add much to the taste, they definitely add to the aesthetic and there is a richness of those recalled memories. After I had decided to put confetti sprinkles on top of my vanilla macarons, I thought I may as well go all the way and mix some into my vanilla buttercream. How whimsical!

Just two tablespoons are all you need, although i’m not going to hold it against you if you want to add more!

at first the buttercream is quite crunchy because of the sprinkles, but after a day they absorb some of the moisture of the buttercream and the texture becomes much more soft. Thats if you can wait a whole day to scoff these babies.

Go on, I dare you.

these ones got packaged up into a pretty box for the birthday girl

see?

and these ones got stacked on a pretty glass stand.

Love those macarons!

So, my lovelies, what birthday treats do you like to eat? Don’t you just think that everything tastes better with sprinkles?

p.s. that was a rhetorical question, there won’t be anyone answering ‘no’ to that one. I freakin hope.

Macaron Recipe – from Zumbo 

Ingredients

300g almond meal

300g icing sugar

110g egg whites

300g caster sugar

75g water

2g powdered egg whites

110g egg whites

sprinkles to go on top of half of the macarons

Method

1. Combine almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl. Sieve the mixture thoroughly at least twice.

2. Put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment

3. Put the caster sugar and water into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved

4. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat until the mixture is boiling and reaches 118 degrees celsius

5. When the sugar syrup is close to the required temperature, place the powdered egg whites into the mixer bowl with the real egg whites and mix until frothy

6. When the sugar syrup is at the required temperature, pour the sugar syrup in a slow and steady stream down the inside of the mixer bowl while the machine is still mixing. Turn the speed up to high and mix for about 8 minutes (or until the mix has gone from very hot to just warm)

7. Stir the extra egg whites into the sieved almond and icing sugar mix

8. Add the meringue mixture to the almond mixture and fold through. Once it is all combined, continue to fold until the mixture has loosened and is more ‘lava like’. You don’t need to be gentle here like you would with a normal meringue, the aim is to soften the mixture rather than to keep all the air in it

9. Pipe 4cm circles of mixture onto a baking tray making sure that there is enough space between each macaron as they will spread slightly. Sprinkle a few… sprinkles on top of half of the macaron shells

10. Leave the trays for 30 mins to form a skin on the top. This will be how your macarons gain their ‘feet’ as the skin makes sure that they rise evenly and pop those little feet out the bottom (after 10 mins of resting, turn your oven on to 135 degrees celsius)

11. Place trays in the oven for 16 minutes or until they have a firm outer shell. Remove from the oven and set aside for 2 minutes. Carefully remove one macaron shell from the tray to check if the base is cool and dry. If it is still sticky on the bottom, put the tray back in the oven for another couple of minutes. When they are done, cool them on the trays.

Vanilla Sprinkles Buttercream – Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter

200g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

2 tbsp sprinkles

 

Method

1. whisk butter with an electric mixer until the butter is pale and creamy

2. Add sifted icing sugar and vanilla paste and mix for 5-8 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy

3. Add the sprinkles and mix with a spatula until combined

4. Pipe onto the bottom of one macaron half, the sandwich with another one.

 

Cake Pops – A class with Stick It! Bakery

In case you missed the memo… right now it’s all about the cake pops.

I’ve always been in awe of bakers like Bakerella who can churn out these delightfully creative and dainty delicacies. I can do a little bit of decorating when I can be bothered, but i’m finding that with an ever increasing workload I just don’t have the time I used to have to do these fiddly recipes. So cake pops got put on the back burner for years. A little bit like macarons did up until recently when I conquered my fear of them. But, in the spirit of trying new things, I decided to have a crack at cake pops. And who better to guide me through this challenge, than my good friend Jen from Stick It! Bakery. Jen makes these beauties in so many different styles and flavours that I have no idea which would be my favourite. Perhaps the packman ones? Or the ninjas? Or the lego heads? Or the cute little bobble men from Despicable Me? HOW CAN I CHOOSE?! So we started with the basics.

first you need to make a cake, let it cool and then break it into chunks in a large bowl

ours was chocolate.

Surprised?

Didn’t think so.

then you use your little fingers to crumble the cake into little crumbs

I really liked this part.

then you mix in enough chocolate icing to make it stick together in a big lump.

Also a favourite part of mine!

then you get a little lump of cake, not too big or too small (just nicely fitting in the palm of your hand)

and roll it into a ball

just like these babies

then you need to get all your bits and pieces together

and melt your chocolate

dip the top of each stick into your chocolate and insert about 3/4 of the way into your cake ball

the chocolate helps the stick to stay in place and stop your cake from falling off and rolling away

then you need to melt up some more chocolate

Jen uses a mug as you need something deep enough for you to dip the whole cake ball into it as week as a little bit of the stick.

Ingenious!

the first coat of chocolate!

You need to dip the whole cake ball in then hold it at a 45 degree angle and spin it slowly to allow the excess chocolate to drop off the ball and run a little bit of the way down the lollypop. This will again help the cake stick to the pop and not fall off or roll away.

unless you’re an octopus, you’ll need something to stand your pops up in while they dry.

These florists blocks work a treat.

And look at all those holes. That girl must have made thousands of cake pops!

After the first coat is dry, you need to dip your cake pops back in the chocolate for a second coat.

This is when you can apply any extra sprinkles or sparkles that you want to add.

Here we put sugar pearls in a saucer then firmly pressed the top of the cake pop into them.

and voila! Cuteness!

we also added sugar hearts both (big and small) and sugar flowers and sprinkles

Aren’t they pretty?

This was a fun activity and I kept thinking how great it would be to do this with a group of friends. I had my own private class with Jen but she does group classes and has a range of different styles of cake pops that she can teach you how to make. She even makes naughty ones for hens nights! Now I might be the lamest person alive, but I can see that being the perfect warm up for a ripper hens night…

So there is no recipe to go with this post, I couldn’t give away the secrets of Jen’s delicious chocolate cake pops. You will just have to book a class and find out for yourself! Hopefully though, the pictures and instructions will help you if you decide to brave it on your own.

And finally, a giant THANKYOU to Jen for putting up with me for the day, and teaching me the basics with so much patience and care that I feel I might be able to tackle these babies alone next time. Perhaps…

Winter Warmers: Hot Mulled Cider

 I’m not an alcoholic. Let me just get that out of the way before you jump to conclusions. And I know that those conclusions would be pretty easy to jump to seeing as all my Winter Warmer posts so far have featured some sort of alcoholic beverage – Frangelico Hot Chocolate, Mulled Wine, now Hot Mulled Cider. But fear not! This drink has such a small amount of alcohol that you are really drinking it for that deep, rich, sweet-like-honey taste that comes from mulling. And if you read my last two posts hoping to see a nice warming alcoholic drink to see you through winter, don’t be disappointed because you can easily alcoholify this one. Just read on!

I first made this recipe with sparkling apple juice after I had tried a delicious mulled apple juice at Sappho Cafe on Glebe Point Road. Being still on my Green P Plates, I can’t have any alcohol at all if i’m going to be driving, so this drink was warming, fragrant and allowed me to imagine I was drinking cider (even if I actually wasn’t!)

So I tried to re-create it at home. Now, when I went on the hunt for a good mulled wine recipe there were millions and millions. When I went looking for mulled cider, there were barely any! How can this be?! The ones I did find were very confusing and seemed to have every spice under the sun in them. Not convinced that these concoctions would give me something actually enjoyable to drink, I decided to try my own (fairly simple) recipe with just a few spices that I knew would be delicious, warming and fragrant. And it went a little something like this…

1. Place 3-4 tbsp brown sugar, 15 cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks and a vanilla bean in a saucepan and cover with a little cider or sparkling apple juice

2. Bring to the boil and leave for five minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has reduced slightly

3. Pour in the rest of the cider or apple juice and leave to heat through at a low heat for at least 30 mins. I like to leave it for at least an hour, pretty much the longer the better. The longer you leave it, the deeper in colour your cider will be and the richer the flavour. When you leave it for an hour or more, it is like drinking a little sip of heaven. I kid you not.

As the cider is so low in alcohol to begin with, even with the heat turned down really low I think that most of the alcohol would have gone by the time you drink this. If you’re not convinced and you need to drive or just don’t feel like boozing it up you can just go for the sparkling apple juice to begin with. Definitely no alcohol in that! If you are going to make a night of it and want to add a little more warmth to your drink, you can add a shot of bourbon or your liqour of choice.

Look at that baby. Deep, golden nectar of the gods.

And if you drink it watching something amazing like Offspring, you might just slip into a coma of warmth and happiness.

How easy is that? Five ingredients, three steps. The only drawback is that as a side effect of mulling your cider for longer, it does reduce the yield. Out of the 1L of cider that you begin with, you might end up with three decent sized glasses. If you want to make this for a big group of people, you will need to multiple the recipe a few times. Don’t worry, it’s totally worth it.

So, my lovelies, what else are you doing to keep you warm? Its pretty damn cold at the moment!

Hot Mulled Cider Recipe

Ingredients

1L cider or sparkling apple juice

3-4 tbsp brown sugar

15 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthways

** optional – 1 shot per glass of bourbon or liquor of your choice

Method

1.Place sugar, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla bean in a large saucepan. Add enough cider to cover the sugar and place over a high heat.

2. Bring to the boil and stir for a few minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has reduced a little

3. Pour in the rest of the cider/apple juice and turn the heat down to low. Leave to heat through for at least 30mins but remember – the longer you leave it, the better it will taste!

** optional, after ladling it into glasses to serve, you can add a shot of bourbon or other liquor. Go wild!

Published
Categorized as Drinks

Chocolate Macarons with Frangelico Buttercream and Hazelnut Praline – Nuts about Sweets! July Sweet Adventures Blog Hop

I go through phases. It’s no secret. One week i’m wearing pink (well, actually, i’m always wearing pink so that’s a pretty poor example) one week i’m wearing headbands, the next its all about the pony tail, one week i’m making chocolate fondants, the next week i’m making delicious soups. This month, it’s all about the macaron. P.s. if you see any typos on these posts where I talk about ‘macaroni’ its because of this stupid autocorrect!

So the stars aligned this month for the Sweet Australian Blog Hop when i’d been on a spree of macaron making and realised that this month’s theme was ‘nuts about sweets’. Hooray! Macarons = almond meal = nuts. But how boring would it be if I just made normal macarons and left it at that? Surely they had to be more nutty? So I had a little think and decided to use up some hazelnuts that I had stored away in my pantry to make some hazelnut praline to put into my macarons.

show me a person who hates praline and i’ll show you a fool

But you can’t have praline on its own so I whipped up some chocolate macarons

and some chocolate buttercream

and then I thought ‘its a bit random to just hand hazelnut praline in these chocolate macarons. How can I make it even more hazelnutty?’ and SHAZAM! the answer came to me. FFFRRRAAAANNNNGEEEELIIICCOOOOOOO!

Or just Frangelico – hazelnut liqueur to the uninitiated.

I whizzed up the hazelnut praline in my mini food processor

and sprinkled some on top of the buttercream

and voila! Chocolate Macrons with Frangelico Buttercream and Hazelnut Praline

 

Chocolate Macaron Recipe – Adapted from this recipe by Adriano Zumbo

Ingredients

270g almond meal

270g icing sugar

60g cocoa powder

110g egg whites

300g caster sugar

75g water

2g powdered egg whites

110g egg whites

 

Method

1. Combine almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Sieve the mixture thoroughly at least twice.

2. Put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment

3. Put the caster sugar and water into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved

4. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat until the mixture is boiling and reaches 118 degrees celsius

5. When the sugar syrup is close to the required temperature, place the powdered egg whites into the mixer bowl with the real egg whites and mix until frothy

6. When the sugar syrup is at the required temperature, pour the sugar syrup in a slow and steady stream down the inside of the mixer bowl while the machine is still mixing. Turn the speed up to high and mix for about 8 minutes (or until the mix has gone from very hot to just warm)

7. Stir the extra egg whites into the sieved almond and icing sugar mix

8. Add the meringue mixture to the almond mixture and fold through. Once it is all combined, continue to fold until the mixture has loosened and is more ‘lava like’. You don’t need to be as gentle here like you would with a normal meringue, the aim is to soften the mixture rather than to keep all the air in it just be careful not to over mix!

9. Pipe 4cm circles of mixture onto a baking tray making sure that there is enough space between each macaron as they will spread slightly

10. Leave the trays for 30 mins to form a skin on the top. This will be how your macarons gain their ‘feet’ as the skin makes sure that they rise evenly and pop those little feet out the bottom (after 10 mins of resting, turn your oven on to 135 degrees celsius)

11. Place trays in the oven for 16 minutes or until they have a firm outer shell. Remove from the oven and set aside for 2 minutes. Carefully remove one macaron shell from the tray to check if the base is cool and dry. If it is still sticky on the bottom, put the tray back in the oven for another couple of minutes. When they are done, cool them on the trays.

Chocolate Frangelico Buttercream Recipe

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
135g dark chocolate
1 tbsp frangelico

Method
1. Melt chocolate in a bowl either in the microwave or over a double boiler and set aside to cool slightly
2. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip for a few minutes until pale and creamy
2. Add chocolate to the butter and mix well
3. Mix in the icing sugar and frangelico then turn your mixer on to high and beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy

Hazelnut Praline Recipe

Ingredients
50g hazelnuts

40ml water

70g caster sugar

 

Method

1. spread hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for 5-8 minutes at 180 degrees celsius or until toasted

2. take hazelnuts out of the oven and place onto a clean, dry tea towel. Fold the tea towel over the nuts and rub vigorously until the skins have come off

3. place hazelnuts back on a tray covered with baking paper

4. heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved

5. turn the heat up to high and let the mixture boil without stirring for 3-5 minutes or until golden. Pour over the hazelnuts and leave to cool

6. Once the toffee has cooled, break into shards and place into a small food processor. Whiz until it resembles crumbs.

 

Assembly

1. place macarons into pairs that are the same size

2. pipe the buttercream onto the bottom of one of the macarons

3. sprinkle some praline over the buttercream

4. place the second macaron bottom down on top of the buttercream and press firmly together

 

This blog hop was kindly hosted by Nic from Dining With a Stud