Fingerbun macarons

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 50 people

  • 300 gm almond meal
  • 300 gm pure icing sugar
  • 220 gm eggwhites (about 7 eggwhites), at room temperature
  • 300 gm caster sugar
  • Pink food colouring (see note)
  • 2 gm powdered eggwhite (see note)
  •  
  • Fingerbun cream
  • 150 ml pouring cream
  • 2 gm ground cinnamon
  • 250 gm couverture white chocolate buttons or finely chopped chocolate
  • 100 gm raisins, roughly chopped in a food processor
  • 50 gm desiccated coconut, plus extra for rolling
  • 50 gm croissant, finely chopped in a food processor
01   Grease large oven trays and line with non-stick baking paper or Silpat (see note). Place another oven tray under each lined oven tray.
02   Put the almond meal and icing sugar in a food processor and process to a fine powder, then sift into a large bowl.
03   Put 110gm eggwhites in an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Put the sugar and 75ml water in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Use a clean pastry brush to brush down the sides of the pan to avoid any crystallisation. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Add enough food colouring to tint the mixture pink (see note). Cook until the mixture reaches 118C. When it is getting close to this temperature, add the powdered eggwhite to the eggwhites in the electric mixer and whisk on medium speed until frothy.
04   Once the sugar syrup is at the right temperature, add it to the eggwhites in a thin steady stream down the side of the bowl. Whisk until warm (about 8 minutes).
05   Add the extra eggwhites to the dry ingredients, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to fold it through until combined. Continue to fold the mixture so it begins to loosen. Working the mixture this way will soften it slightly. When the mixture falls slowly off the spatula it is at the right texture. The texture is important for the next stage, which is piping the macaron shells.
06   Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 7mm plain nozzle. Holding the piping bag about 1.5cm above an oven tray lined with baking paper, pipe straight down to make 4cm-diameter rounds, leaving a 3cm gap between each. As you finish piping each macaron, move the nozzle from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock quickly to finish the piping action. If you have the correct texture, the macaron will soften again slightly and the tip on top of the macaron will drop, leaving a smooth top.
07   Leave the macarons at room temperature for 30 minutes or until a skin forms. After 10 minutes, preheat the oven to 135C. To test if the macarons are ready to bake, gently touch one with your fingertip to check that a light skin has formed – the macarons should not be sticky. On humid days this may take longer. The skin is important because it lifts while the macaron cooks, creating a “foot” at the base.
08   Bake the macarons for 16 minutes, or until they have a firm outer shell. Remove from the oven and set aside for 2 minutes, then carefully remove one macaron with a spatula to check that the base is also cooked and dry. If it is still slightly sticky, return the macarons to the oven for 2-3 minutes, then check again. Cool the macarons completely on the trays, then pair them up according to size.
09   Meanwhile, for fingerbun cream, put the cream and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Put the chocolate in a bowl. Pour the hot cream mixture over and set aside for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth, then fold through the raisins, coconut and croissant. Allow the ganache to cool and become firm enough to pipe. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 7mm plain nozzle with the ganache. Pipe the ganache on the flat side of half the macaron shells, then top with the remaining shells, ensuring the ganache comes right to the edge of each shell. Roll the macarons in the extra coconut. Put the assembled macarons in the refrigerator for 24 hours to set, then bring to room temperature and serve, or transfer to an airtight container.

Note All the macarons in Zumbarons use an Italian meringue mixture as their base. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead. Food colouring brands vary - some gels require only 2 or 3 drops to give the desired colour, while some liquids require far more. Getting the colour right comes down to practice - you need to see how the colour looks in the syrup and then how that changes when it combines with the other ingredients. Powdered eggwhite is available at specialty food shops. Silpats are non-stick baking mats made of fibreglass and silicone; they're available from specialty kitchenware shops and online.

Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons by Adriano Zumbo, with photography by Cath Muscat, is published by Murdoch Books ($24.99, hbk). The recipe here has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.

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