At first glance, it might not seem like the best idea to combine alcohol and one of the most moderately painstaking baking processes to seize the home-baking world. On second (or third or fourth) glance, however, it sounds absolutely brilliant.
Cocktail in a Macaron: Mojito
Makes about 60 small macarons
For the macaron shells:
- Green food colouring paste or gel (optional)
- 100g room temperature egg whites (take them out of the fridge 2 hours beforehand)
- 66g caster sugar
- 120g ground almonds
- 180g icing sugar
- Raw sugar or golden granulated sugar, to decorate
For the ganache filling:
- Small handful of fresh mint leaves (about 4-5 sprigs or 10g)
- 40g whipping cream (NZ: pure cream)
- 150g white chocolate
- 40g white rum
- 2 drops mint extract (optional)
To make the macaron shells:
1. Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside. Prepare a piping bag with a plain round piping tip. Brush two or three lines of food colouring up the inside of the prepared piping bag (this might be a bit messy. I did three stripes, so if you want your shells to have slightly less green, then just paint two stripes).
2. Blend the icing sugar and ground almonds together (don’t skip this step!). Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl. Sift them again if necessary.
3. Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites into glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.
4. Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well. Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the “macaronnage” stage), until you have a smooth mixture. Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes. The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.
5. Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 1.5-2cm in diameter). Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round. Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.
6. Sprinkle the shells with the raw sugar and leave the shells to set for about 30 mins (this helps to produce the feet). Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C. When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.
7. Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10 mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3 mins longer). Leave them to cool on the baking trays, and when they are completely cool, carefully remove them and pair them up by size.
To make the ganache filling:
8. Whilst the macarons are setting and cooking, make the ganache filling. Remove the mint leaves from their stalks if necessary, and finely chop. Set aside.
9. Heat the cream, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the white chocolate (broken into pieces), the rum and mint extract and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth (don’t let it boil or you will boil off the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?). Once smooth, stir in the chopped mint leaves. Allow the mixture to thicken in the fridge (or freezer if necessary).
10. Once cool, use a teaspoon to deposit a dollop of ganache onto one shell of each pair. Then place the partner shell on top, and use a slight twisting motion to squash the shell down onto the filling.
11. Leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving (I know, it’s difficult! But so worth it!)
[Recipe and photos courtesy Melanie Orr, Sharky Oven Gloves]