Blending salty and sweet, this is a very Australian take on one of France's culinary icons.
- 300 g ground almonds
- 300 g pure icing sugar (without cornflour added to it)
- 110 g liquefied egg whites (see Notes)
- 300 g caster sugar
- 75 g mineral water
- 110 g liquefied egg whites
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
- 1-2 tsp back food gel (liquid food dye will not work!)
- salted caramel sauce (see Note)
- pink sea salt flakes (optional)
- ½ batch fluffy buttercream frosting
- 1-2 tsp Vegemite or Marmite (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Prepare before you start
1. Baking trays, lined with baking paper, not greaseproof paper.
2. Eggs - separate egg whites from the yolks and allow them to sit in the fridge for a couple hours. These must be measured accurately.
3. Sift almond and sugar together (if you don’t have a food processor).
To make the macarons, add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and almond meal into a food processor and process until well combined. This will help get rid of any lumps in the sugar. Alternatively, you may sift the two together. This must be done at least 3 times.
Empty the almond mixture into a large mixing bowl, add the first portion of egg whites and black food dye and mix until it forms a paste. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Add the sugar and water into a small saucepan. Give them a very gentle stir to get them mixed together. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer. Add a candy thermometer to the pot to help you measure the temp of the syrup. As the syrup bubbles away it will splatter small bubbles of sugared water on the sides of the pot. Use a pastry brush dabbed in a little water to brush those back into the syrup. This will help prevent the syrup from crystallising. When the syrup reaches 115°C, add the second portion of egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and start whisking them on medium/high speed to help break them apart and get them a little frothy.
When the syrup reaches 118°C, pour it over the egg whites in a slow and steady stream. Whisk to stiff peaks for about 6 min. Add the colour and vanilla extract at about the 3 min point, whisk into the meringue for a couple of minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down, then whisk for an extra couple of minutes. When you can turn the bowl over and the meringue doesn’t fall out, you know you’ve reached stiff peaks.
Grab a spatula full of the meringue and fold it into the almond-sugar mixture, mix until well combined. This allows the mixture to thin out a little before you add the rest of the mixture. Fold everything together by going around the bowl with a spatula then through the middle. Continue folding until the batter gets thin enough that it drips off the spatula and falls in a ribbon. It should take about 10 seconds for the ribbon to disappear into the rest of the batter. That’s when you know the batter is ready to pipe.
Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a round tip.
Pipe rounds of batter about 3.5 cm (1.38 inches) in diameter, spacing them 2 cm apart on (flat) baking trays lined with baking parchment.
Gently tap the tray on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes, until skin forms on the shells. They shouldn’t be sticky when you touch them. It’s at this point that you can preheat your oven to 180°C. Sprinkle with pink sea salt right before you bake them. It’s going to feel like the salt won’t stick to the biscuit, but trust me, it will when they bake.
Bake for 12 minutes. If you feel your oven is causing the macarons to brown on one side (usually the side closest to the fan) turn the tray around about halfway through baking. Once they’re baked, let them cool completely.
To make the Vegemite frosting, add Vegemite to buttercream frosting and mix until well combined.
To assemble the macarons fit the end of a piping bag with a piping tip (see Notes) and frost your macarons in a doughnut swirl on one biscuit. Try to aim to leave a hole in the centre and fill it with salted caramel sauce before you sandwich the biscuit.
The macarons can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days (refrigerated or unrefrigerated). The ganache frosting can be stored in the fridge for 2 weeks or in the freezer for one month.
• You can use storebought salted caramel if you don't want to make it from scratch. To prepare a salted caramel sauce, place 1½ cups of white sugar, 2 tbsp glucose syrup and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan over low heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 10–12 minutes, without stirring until it becomes a deep caramel colour. Remove from the heat and add the 1 tsp sea salt flakes, 50 ml thickened cream and 50 g unsalted butter and whisk to combine. Allow to cool completely.
• If you aren't a Vegemite fan you can replace this with 4 tbsp salted caramel sauce instead.
• Ageing your eggs: egg whites will liquefy if you set them in the fridge for several days, preferably a week. During that time, the egg whites lose their elasticity, the albumen breaks down and they will be much easier to whisk to soft peaks without turning "grainy".
• In this recipe, I use a Wilton 6B piping tip.
Feeling nostalgic? We want you! For the month of November, SBS Food is asking food lovers far and wide to get creative by putting a multicultural twist or your creative spin on an Australian classic... Welcome to #BringBackTheClassics - enter now!