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Monday
Dec142009

Christmas Mulled Spice & Brandy Buttercream Macarons

mulled spice shells with a delicious brandy buttercreamChristmas is my favourite time of year, I love planning a meal for friends and family, I love finding the perfect gifts, I love decorating the tree and house, I love everything about it, I'll even deal with the crowds at the malls :)

I also love macarons since discovering how to make them for a Daring Baker challenge. They're tasty, interesting and very very cute!

And so, in the spirit of Christmas, I've made some perfect for Christmas macarons: Candy cane, gingerbread and mulled spice!

In SA we don't make warm drinks for winter, we'd rather have something lovely and cold to counter the summer heat, and I'd never even heard of warm spiced winter drinks like mulled cider or wine until moving to Ireland. Having my first sip, I loved it!

These spices came to mind when thinking of a Christmas macaron. I wasn't sure how to include the wine or cider, then I remembered that you can also make mulled brandy. It all came together after that!

Fragrant spice macarons shells and a delicious brandy buttercream. Warms me just thinking about them! Mmmmm!

 

 

Ingredients

90g Egg Whites, aged & at room temp

144g Confectioners/Icing Sugar

72g Granulated Sugar

117g Almond Meal/Ground Almonds

1/4tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/4tsp Ground Nutmeg

1/8tsp Ground Cloves

1/8tsp Allspice

Zest from half an orange

Powder colouring of choice (I used a mixture of red & brown)

 

Method

  • Dry the zest out overnight then grind to a powder with mortar and pestle
  • Process the confectioners sugar, almond meal, spices and powdered zest until the almond meal is fine then sift into a medium bowl to remove any large bits of nuts
  • Tip: If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery
  • Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl until foamy
  • Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks
  • Tip: If you turn the bowl upside down they should make no move to fall out
  • Fold half of the almond flour mixture and powdered colouring into the meringue, starting quite vigorously then folding more carefully
  • Add the remaining almond meal mixture and fold in carefully. Do not overfold
  • Tip: A good way to tell if the batter is ready is when you fold it onto itself, it should blend back into itself in about 30seconds
  • Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip. You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off
  • Tip: It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter
  • Pipe 1 1/2 inch mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper
  • Tip: I don't recommend using a silicon mat, I had trouble taking the macarons off each time I used it
  • Once piped, bang the sheet down on a counter top a couple times to flatten any mounds and bring up air bubbles, also to settle the almond meal to the bottom giving smooth tops
  • Leave the unbaked macarons out to dry, between 30min - 1 1/2 hours
  • Tip: If you have a fan assisted oven you can dry them in less time by just having the fan turned on with the macarons in the oven. They're ready when no longer sticky to the touch
  • While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 140°C (120°C Fan Assisted)
  • Once dry, bake for 15-22mins depending on their size
  • Tip: They're ready when you push them and they move very slightly on their feet
  • Cool on a rack before removing from the parchment, 15-30mins
  • Pipe or spoon with brandy buttercream filling and sandwich

 

Brandy Buttercream

 

Ingredients

2 Egg Whites

100g Granulated Sugar

175g Unsalted Butter

1/2tsp Vanilla Extract

5-6tsp Brandy or Cognac

 

Method

  • Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl
  • Put the bowl over a pot of simmering water
  • Whisk over heat until all the sugar is dissolved and it resembles marshmallow fluff, about 3 mins
  • Pour the mixture into a large bowl and beat until the mixture is cool and you have a glossy meringue
  • Beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time, making sure it's completely mixed in before adding more
  • Tip: At some point it will look curdled, DON'T WORRY! Once you've added all of the butter, just keep beating and it will come together to form a smooth, creamy buttercream
  • Beat in the vanilla extract and brandy to taste

 

 

This macaron recipe is adapted from Syrup And Tang's basic macaron recipe

 

Other Tips:

You'll find that most serious macaron bakers swear by using aged egg whites, and I do notice a difference with the feet between using fresh & aged. Some say 3 days is best, some say up to 5 days is best. To age your egg whites, leave them in the fridge (or if in a cool climate) on the counter covered with a paper towel to stop anything from getting inside, and allow to stand between 3-5 days. If aged in the fridge, leave out until room temperature before using.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge but sit out for an hour or two before eating

Macarons are best eaten a day or two after making them, the flavours continue to develop over this time

If you'd rather not use brandy, fruit flavours would also go well like cranberry, apple or pear

To add more Christmas sparkle, spray the shells with edible gold or pearl lustre

These make perfect Christmas gifts or favours, lay them in a nice box, tie a lovely bow on and give, give, give!