Macarons have a reputation for being super tricky, and they can be - but once you've cracked them you can play about with the flavours and make some really delicious combinations. So here's my take on a new batch of breakfast inspired versions of the french fancies. When I'm making bigger batches I tend to use Italian meringue because its more stable and more reliable, but I've found it does give the finished product a slightly heavier texture . I'll post another recipe using the French method soon so you can all try the difference for yourself!
For the macaron (24 macarons)
150g ground almond
150g icing sugar
65g egg white
45g egg white
150g granulated sugar
100ml strongly brewed Earl Grey tea (I used 10g of Atkinsons loose leaf Earl Grey and brewed it for at least an hour before using)
For the filling
130g white chocolate
Splash of water
1. Brew your tea! Do this as early as you can so it has time to make a really strong liquor, stronger than you'd ever want to drink. If you're using tea bags use at least three for 100mls of water and give them a stir every now and again.
2. Start by sieving together the ground almonds and icing sugar. This is time consuming and annoying and, full disclosure, I never normally sieve anything when baking BUT for macarons it's irritatingly essential. For this quantity you're looking at maybe 20mins of constant sieving to get it all done, but there's no way around it so stick on Netflix and use the time to make your mind up about Stephen Avery or Amanda Knox.
3. Get your caramel on. For this you need your granulated sugar and brewed tea in a pan and set it on the hob. You want to bring the mixture to at least 117 degrees C (but no more than 121 degrees C). This can take from 10-15minutes depending on what heat your hob is on and how powerful it is. I quite like to get it on a high heat and watch it closely, but this is a risky strategy because it can go over very quickly. If you're unsure keep it on a mid-heat and check it frequently (but you've more freedom to bob off to the loo).
4. When your caramel is nearly done (at 112/113 degrees C) start whisking 65g of egg whites until they form soft peaks. Once you've hit that magic 117 degrees C, keep the whisk going and trickle the caramel very slowly into the bowl. Keep it whisking even after all the caramel is in until the bowl feels cool to the touch (FYI this is the Italian method of making meringue).
NOTE: If you're just making regular macarons, not tea ones, your caramel should not be this dark brown - if it is you've heated it far too high and it will make them hard and brittle.
5. While waiting for your meringue to cool down get started on the filling. The key to nut butters is very simply the processing time. If you blend the cashews for long enough their natural oils will be released and this is what makes it creamy and glossy. So, very simply blend your nuts for 10 minutes, you might need to pause your processor to scrape down the sides or loosen up any mixture that's got stuck on the base. Add a splash of water to loosen it and blend with a few pomegranate seeds, before adding the melted white chocolate. Make sure you blend the water in first before adding the chocolate or else TERRRIBLE things will happen (well maybe not terrible, but if you want claggy lumpy chocolate then be my guest). I'm also a child and like pink things so added a little splash of food colouring, but if you're a grown up then this is totally optional. Leave it to stiffen a little in the fridge so it's easier to work with.
6. Mix the remaining 45g of egg white into your carefully sifted almond/icing sugar blend.
7. Now fold your glossy meringue into the almond mixture, and make sure its thoroughly blended. Because the Italian meringue has already been cooked (with the hot caramel) you can afford to be a bit rougher than you can with French - the air shouldn't get knocked out too easily!
8. Now load it into a piping bag and pipe your little dollops onto baking parchment. For more uniform macarons you can draw around something to ensure they're all the same size. You can use a silicone mat if you choose, but I find them slightly more difficult to work with. If you're using parchment though use a few little blobs of the mixture underneath to glue it to the baking tray and keep it perfectly flat in the oven. If your piping is a little uneven then just dab your finger in a little water and pat down any bumps (I actually quite like the bumps because it makes it a little bit more rustic). Now you want to leave them to dry for as long as you can, until you can touch it without disturbing the shape with your finger - this is usually about an hour. If you have used water to even out the shape then this may take a bit longer, and you can find that patches of the macaron will burst out in the wet places in the oven.
9. In a 165 degrees C oven they should be about 20-25 minutes, but larger macarons will obviously take longer. Once they're ready, which you can tell by the shell being hard and the feet around the outer edge, leave them on the hot tray for a further 10 minutes out of the oven to ensure the centre is cooked all the way through. When you take them off the parchment you want to make sure they have a nice flat bottom and don't rip in half.
10. Once cool fill with your cashew butter and a few whole pomegranate seeds and enjoy! I used a pallet knife but a piping bag would work just as well. Just make sure you don't press it too hard and break the bottom of the marcaron and end up filling the shell.
This is pretty nutty recipe so if you're not a huge fan of nuts, you can always fill with just a general white chocolate ganache using double cream.