Well. It is Easter.
I have a bit of a fetish with macarons. I tend to have these loves; in 2008/9/part of 10 it was cupcakes, cupcakes galore; any kind of miniature cake that could be decorated and cute, I fell for. Now it’s macarons. I’ll get one if they’re available with my coffee, I drool over the rows and rows in Larent Boulangerie Patisserie and the Lindt Chocolat Cafés. I read about the best methods to make them, I dream about them. I dreamt about these ones, actually; piping the little ears on weird, bright pink carnival colours. Strange dreams, I have sometimes.
I got the idea for these from raspberri cupcakes, who makes the most amazing macarons, really, but I decided to take the recipe from Secrets of Macarons by Jose Marechal, for no reason whatsoever except that I had it on hand and I couldn’t be bothered printing out the recipe.
I’m still a macaron baking newbie; a lot (and by a lot I mean probably most of them) of my bunnies have cracked faces or bums. But they taste delicious. And they are cuter than a button.
Easter Bunny Macarons
Adapted from Secrets of Macarons by Jose Marechal
100g almond meal
100g hazelnut meal
200g icing sugar
200g caster sugar
2x80g egg whites (that’s 160g egg whites in total, about six eggs’ worth)
Food colouring, if desired
For the decoration; I used blue and white muisjes balls for the eyes and noses, which are Dutch aniseed sprinkles. You can just as easily use silver cachous or white sugar balls for the noses, and edible marker pen lines for cute smiling eyelids or eyes. Chocolate sprinkle whiskers and white chocolate chip tails.
For the ganache:
200g dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate, chopped
Sift the ground nuts and the icing sugar together and set aside.
Bring the caster sugar and water to boil and keep boiling until the mixture reaches soft ball stage, 105-115ºC, if you have a sugar thermometer, which I don’t. When the sugar is almost ready, start beating 80g of the egg whites in a stand mixer. When it makes soft peaks, add the hot sugar and water in a thin stream while still beating.
Continue beating after all the mix has been added for about ten minutes, to cool it down. (This is the Italian meringue. If you want to add colours, like I did, add them now. I added about half a capful of pink food colouring.)
While this is beating, combine the rest of the egg whites with the ground nuts and icing sugar. Incorporate about a third of the Italian meringue in, to loosen the batter, then fold the rest in gently. Whatever you do, don’t over mix the macaron batter. When it’s ready, it should be kinda like thick pancake batter; a spoonful dropped back on the surface should disappear in about thirty seconds.
Preheat oven to 150º. Line two baking trays with non-stick paper and pipe 3cm rounds of batter. Make sure you leave enough room to pipe bunny ears on half of them.
Rap the trays on the benchtop and let them set for about half an hour, in which time you can decorate them (i.e., put faces and bunny tails on them. If you don’t have white chocolate chips, you can wait until after you’ve incorporated the Italian meringue into the rest of the batter to colour the mix, and before you put pink colouring in, take out about a half cup of mixture to pipe onto the bums.)
Bake about 14 minutes, and gently place the baking paper on a damp benchtop to make it easier to remove the shells.
For the ganache: bring the cream to boil, then pour it over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Cool down a little, then whisk in the butter. Keep at room temperature and pipe onto the bunny bums; sandwich with the heads and show off to all your friends.
Random collection of facts about these cookies:
They’re big. They’re chewy. And they make people happy.
They’re really easy to make, and they placate a crowd. You get to lick the Nutella spoon and they didn’t fit in my cookie jar!
I still haven’t put pictures of my awesome cookie jar up here. I will be, probably in about a week.
Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
Adapted from Two Peas and their Pod
1 1/3 cups plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
125g butter, room temperature
½ cup nutella
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cups toasted hazelnuts
150g chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cream butter, sugars and Nutella. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition; scrape down sides of the bowl.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in to the mixture and fold in until just incorporated. Fold in hazelnuts and chocolate.
Drop tablespoons of cookie dough onto baking tray covered with baking paper, about two inches apart. Bake about seventeen minutes, rotating trays at the halfway mark.
Remove trays from oven and let rest about five minutes before sliding onto a cooling rack with a spatula. Try not to gobble them up in five minutes because they’re really good to share!