Macarons and I, we have this love-hate relationship. Some days it’s all hearts and flowers, everything is fine and dandy, beautiful and wondrous. Other days we have hissy fits, hiccups, tears and tantrums.
But I have to say, the making up is always worth it 😉 I can never resist. No matter the drama, I always come running back to try again, to make things work.
Today I learned that if I want macarons, I need to pay full attention to them. Not half-hearted, absent-minded attention, mind you, but full attention. I guess I was buoyed after my last success (my Chai macarons, see here), and so when baking these shells, I thought I could chat online whilst I was at it, instead of sitting with my nose pressed to the oven door. I thought an additional ten minutes would be good…. and no deal. Looked amazing, but they were crunchy 😦 Nonetheless, this flavour combination was an absolute winner, and although it tasted more like a cookie, it was delicious.
How did I think of this flavour combination? Well, during my exams of course (which, annoyingly, is always when I get my best food ideas). After a brief Google, I was delighted to discover that this combination hasn’t been tried extensively, although Adriano Zumbo does have a version in his cookbook that involves the use of ridiculous ingredients such as iota and gellan. Online, I found recipes that had ground peanuts in the macaron shell, or had plain macarons with a PB ganache and straight jam from a jar. Other than the Zumbo version, I couldn’t see any other PB&J macarons with chocolate.
I realised that I needed to think about all the elements of this combination carefully. The shells were easy enough, just add cocoa. With the centre, I didn’t want to simply make a PB ganache out of PB and icing sugar, as with the high oil content in PB, I was afraid it would make my shells soggy. Similarly, I didn’t want to use jam as the ‘jelly’ as it’s quite wet, and with the sweet filling and sweet shell, it would just be a sugar overload.
I ended up making a raspberry jelly myself, which gave me control over the sugar content, as well as making a vanilla buttercream and whipping in some smooth PB.
While I was making my jelly, I realised that I had never actually tried the world-famous combination of PB&J. Well, I had to try it, for experience’s sake, no? No jelly, so I spread crunchy PB and raspberry jam on a cracker instead.
Oh. My. Goodness.
What have I unleashed?
I totally understand the phenomenon now. Salty, but not too much, sweet, but also not too much. Sticky and smooth at the same time.
Okay, okay, enough talk. I bet you guys all want the recipe now. Make sure you make the jelly well in advance, and if you have the butter nice and softened, you can whip up the PB buttercream right after the macarons have come out of the oven.
For the chocolate macaron shells:
- 110g icing sugar;
- 60g almond meal;
- 60g egg whites (approximately three egg whites), plus 10 or so grams, extra;
- 40g caster sugar;
- 2T Dutch cocoa.
1. Sift the cocoa in with the icing sugar and almond meal, combine.
2. Whisk the egg whites until foamy, then with the mixer on high, gradually add the sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.
3. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg white mixture in two batches, incorporating gently. Add additional raw egg whites if you feel your batter is too dry.
4. Pipe out rounds onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bang firmly on the kitchen counter. Allow to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
5. While they’re resting, preheat oven to 140 degrees Celcius. Once a ‘skin’ has formed, bake the macarons for 12 to 15 minutes. To remove, slide the paper with the macarons on it, onto a damp counter surface and remove gently with a spatula. Allow to cool completely.
For the PB buttercream:
- 110g butter, softened;
- 1 + 1/4C icing sugar, sifted;
- 1t vanilla paste;
- 1-2T milk;
- 2-3T smooth peanut butter.
1. Beat the butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add half of the icing sugar, then one tablespoon of milk. Beat well before adding the remaining icing sugar, then determine whether you will need the remaining tablespoon of milk.
2. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the peanut butter and beat until well combined.
For the raspberry jelly:
(This will depend on what type of gelatin you have, but I used just your normal powdered gelatin. You can keep your fancy gelatin sheets in the drawer for this 😉 For my gelatin, it said that 14g dissolved in hot water was sufficient to set 400ml of liquid.)
- 100g frozen raspberries;
- 300ml hot water, plus 100g for setting;
- 3T caster sugar;
- 14g powdered gelatin.
1. Put the raspberries, sugar and 300ml of water in a saucepan, simmer for 15-20 minutes until the berries are pulpy and the mixture is a glorious red.
2. Prepare your gelatin according to the instructions. In my case, dissolving 14g of gelatin in 100ml of hot water. I then poured this into the simmering raspberry mixture.
3. Pour the hot mixture into a container lined with cling film, allow to cool in the fridge until fully set.
NB: If you want, you can sieve the mixture before mixing in the hot gelatin, but I wanted the pulpy texture.
Now, the fun part, assembling! Cut your jelly into small cubes, as large or as small as you desire.
Pipe two circles of PB buttercream on one macaron shell, then in the centre of these two circles, pop in a piece of jelly.
Carefully place a matching size shell on top, twist gently to secure.
Seriously… everything I could have hoped for (except for the crunchy shells). And the innards!
Definitely a recipe I’ll be keeping in my repertoire. And yes, macarons, I will devote my full attention to you the next time we meet. Which will be soon, as I simply cannot keep my hands off you, and you know it…!
Have a fun weekend, lovelies 😉 xx