Does anyone still remember those Pick & Mixes you could get at variety stores? Where you chose what size of cup you wanted before staring in awe at the whole selection of lollies and sweets, sherbets and gummy bears, loading up your cup and reverently taking it to the checkout before devouring it at home. Of course, they weren’t very long-lived as some naughty children enjoyed sticking their hands directly into the boxes, and I do remember that the aisle of the Pick & Mix was always constantly scattered with discarded sweets. Now with the crackdown on healthy eating, Pick & Mixes are back now in Coles and Woolworth supermarkets, with nuts and other snacks…no gummy bears or sherbet cola bottles though! I miss the retro sweets the most – Clouds, lemon sherbets, sherbet cola bottles, milk bottles, Sherbies, and those mini Redskins…the dentist’s worst nightmare!
I had heard about Adriano Zumbo’s Redskin Macarons some time ago, and now that I had perfected my macaron shells I was interested in giving more unique flavours a try. Flavours are usually infused into the macaron by way of flavouring the sandwiching ganache – but how to create a Redskin flavoured ganache?
The solution was simpler than I imagined. Luckily a patisserie lecturer from Le Cordon Bleu Australia follows me on Instagram, and told me it was as easy as adding whole Redskins to a white chocolate ganache. The only thing to it was working out the right ratio of ingredients, as too much melted Redskin would make a very runny ganache, but too little and the white chocolate flavour would overwhelm it. The ratio I used was 150g white chocolate to 125ml of pure cream, to eight Redskin lollies. Stick it in the freezer for a little bit to coagulate slightly, stir and spoon into a bag ready to pipe. Do be careful as the ganache will get runnier the longer you work with it, due to the warmth of your hands.
To make about 20-25 macarons, you will need:
- 144g egg whites (divided into two parts: 94 grams and 50 grams);
- 135g almond meal;
- 135g pure icing sugar;
- 253g caster sugar;
- 62g water;
- 2g “no flavour” red food colouring paste (pastes and gels are better rather than the runnier dyes just because they don’t dramatically affect the level of liquidity in the recipe).
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius.
Combine the almond meal, icing sugar and mix well. Pass this through a fine drum sieve to break up the clumps. Add the red colouring paste and the 50g portion of egg whites into this almond-sugar mixture and mix until it becomes a consistently-coloured paste.
In a saucepan, bring the water and caster sugar to boil. Use a sugar thermometer to monitor the temperature of the syrup; 118 degrees Celcius is ideal (soft ball stage).
When the syrup reaches 114 degrees Celcius, separately begin to whisk the 94g portion of the egg whites to soft peakes in a large bowl.
When the syrup gets to 118 degrees, remove from heat and pour it at a steady slow trickle down the side of the bowl of egg whites, whisking continuously. Continue to whisk on high until the meringue cools and the bowl is warm to the touch (about 50 degrees Celcius).
Take a third of the meringue and mix hard into the pink almond-sugar mix (macronage) to incorporate and soften it. Add the remaining meringue in two lots and fold in gently, ensuring the colour is consistent. Scrape the bottom until it is fully incorporated, but take care not to over-mix.
Fill the batter into a piping bag fitted with a wide, plain nozzle (about 1cm diameter). I find it easier to fill a piping bag by opening it up into a large measuring cup or narrow vase, folding the edges of the bag over the sides of the container so as to form a stand.
Line baking trays with baking paper and smear a bit of the macaron mixture between the paper and the tray to hold it in place. Pipe rounds of batter (about 4cm in diameter) onto the trays, leaving 2cm between each round. If you don’t have a good eye for measurements, you can draw circles on the paper as a guide – just remember to draw on the underside of the paper so you don’t get pencil on your shells!
Holding onto the edge of the paper securely, firmly bang the edge of the tray on your countertop. This allows any air bubbles to expel and will even out any pointy tops you’ve made while piping. I like to do this on all sides of the tray for consistency, and it’s quite a hard *slap*. The macaron mixture is sticky and thick, so a lot more resistant than you give it credit for!
I dusted my shells with silver food powder just for a bit of fun, although it does come off on your fingers when you eat them!
Bake for eight minutes in the pre-heated oven. You can check the shells by gently touching them; if it still wobbles to the touch, bake for another minute.
Remove the trays from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, carefully remove the shells from the trays and the baking paper. Pair each shell with a like-sized shell, and get ready to make your ganache!
To make the Redskin ganache, you will need:
- 150g white chocolate;
- 125ml pure cream;
- 8 Redskin lollies.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Add the Redskins and stir until dissolved, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and add the chocolate. When about three-quarters of the chocolate has melted, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir to finish. Cool slightly in a cold water bath before spooning into a plastic resealable bag or piping bag. Place in the fridge or freezer to coagulate slightly.
When its reached the desired consistency – pipe-able but not runny – snip off a small corner of your piping bag and pipe onto half of the macaron shells. Sandwich them together by gently placing the top on and twisting so that the ganache comes to the edge of the shells.
Macarons taste the best the next day after resting as it allows sufficient time for the flavour in the ganache to be infused into the shells. Refrigerate them and wait it out – you will be duly rewarded for your patience!