It’s been a bit quiet over here, but not so quiet that there hasn’t been any cooking going on! This past weekend I finally got a chance to make macarons again, and although this may sound like a somewhat strange pairing, there is a little back-story to it. A few months ago, round April time, I jetted off with a friend to a not so sunny Iceland. We were hoping to spot the Northern lights but alas it was not to be. What we did manage to fit in was a long soak in the Blue Lagoon and a mini road trip. En route to Reykjavik we had a short stopover in Copenhagen. Anyone who has ventured Scandinavia way would have noticed an almost unholy love for all things liquorice. I love the stuff myself, and so have no problem in tucking in and indulging in it. I made a new (to me) discovery in Kastrup duty free in the form of Lakrids Liquorice. There was a small store tucked away in the corner and on the counter top a bowl full of liquorice balls (soft liquorice) covered in white chocolate and passion fruit to taste. When you first hear the combination it sounds pretty awful. Or it did to me. But never one to turn down a freebee, I tried it (also because you can’t have a opinion if you don’t at least try it right!), it was one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten. Who knew liquorice and passion fruit would be a match made in heaven. I left the store not only with a tub of the balls but also some liquorice powder (very finely ground) that I fully intended on cooking with the moment I got home. As with most things the balls got eaten pretty quickly and the liquorice powder was shoved into my cupboard to be used at a later date. And there it sat and stared at me for months and month’s until finally one day I had to use it.
There was another little discovery that led to these macarons. Passion fruit powder – who knew it even existed! I was wondering through Whole Foods the other day (as you do) spying out some bits and bobs and came across a shelf with several different fruit powders, passion fruit being one of them. Personally I find that when using fresh passion fruit, although delicious, the flavour is muted so I was excited to try the powder out. It was delicious – but I added way to much powder to the butter cream with the result being that the liquorice flavour was almost completely wiped out. Rather than being a distinct liquorice flavour there was a more of a hint. But they were still delish, enough so that you should go try them out!
Passion fruit and Liquorice Macarons
- 200 g icing sugar
- 110 g ground almonds
- 2 table spoons of powdered liquorice
- 95 g aged egg whites
- 30 g castor sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 2-3 drops of lemon (plus extra for cleaning the bowl)
Sift the icing sugar, liquorice and ground almonds into a bowl, stir to combine and set to one side. In a separate, clean bowl (I put a few drops of lemon into the bowl and wipe it over the surface – apparently this removes any excess oil), whip the egg whites, salt and lemon drops to a very soft peak and then gradually add the sugar (1 teaspoon at a time) until you get a glossy meringue. Stop as soon as you have reached this stage.
Now add dry ingredients to the meringue and fold it in, you want to remove some of the air from the meringue so you don’t have to be too delicate. The mixture should, within a few strokes start to fall back on its self and blend back into the mixture. Most recipes state that this process should take a maximum of 50 turns; I think its fewer than that.
Place the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain and pipe small rounds onto grease proof paper lining a flat baking tray. Once done, bang the tray against the counter top, gently but firmly, to remove any bubbles from the piped shells. Now let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to dry. When they have had time to dry, preheat your over to 130 degrees Celsius and baked them for 25-30 minutes. They should come away from the grease proof paper easily. Let them cool and pop them in the fridge until you are ready to fill with butter cream.
Passion fruit butter cream:
- 140g soft butter
- 280g icing sugar
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- 1 tablespoon of passion fruit powder (add more to your taste)
Blend all the ingredients together and adjust to your taste. You want a think butter cream so only add the milk if you really need to. Pipe the mixture onto one shell and top with a second of a similar size. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days or eat right now!