“Looking at these macaroons took me to the highest level of dreaming! I developed a thousand analogies. At first I thought they seemed like boobies or earrings, but then, thinking about the structure, the image appeared.. Sugar domes! And which if not Brunelleschi’s dome?!”
Illustration by Simona Patrone
The first time I ever experimented with smoking anything other than meat was at Australian restaurant Ethos Eat Drink. We would smoke oil, sugar, skin and fruit to enhance, deepen and lengthen flavour. I was lucky enough to be given a smoker for my birthday (every girls dream!) but if you don’t have one, there are a few ways to make a makeshift one at home, try youtube, life hacker or ehow.
Smoked Sugar Macaroon with Salted Chocolate Ganache
For the Macarons
- 170g icing sugar
160g ground almonds
120ml egg whites (about 4 medium eggs), with 30ml kept separate
160g smoked castor sugar
Place the icing sugar and ground almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 15 times until fully combined. Sieve this mixture into a large bowl, discarding any particles that stay in the sieve. Add the first batch of egg whites to the almond mixture, mix to form a thick paste and set aside.
Tip the second batch of egg whites into a clean, heatproof bowl and have an electric whisk at the ready, or alternatively in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place 50ml water and the smoked sugar into a small saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup registers 110C, using a sugar thermometer, at which time start to beat the egg whites on high speed. Once the syrup is at 118C pour it slowly down the side of the mixer bowl, avoiding the moving whisk. Continue to whisk on high until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny peaked meringue mixture.
Tip the meringue onto the almond mixture and gently fold together. It is important not to over-mix the batter – it should fall in a thick ribbon from the spatula. The ribbon should also fade back into the batter within about 30 secs – if it doesn’t, fold a few more times.
Heat oven to 170C. Line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe rounds about 2.5cm in diameter onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave to rest for 30 mins out of the fridge, or until the macaroons have developed a skin.
Bake the macaroons for 14 mins (this needs to be precise so you could test a macaroon first). Immediately slide the parchment onto the work surface and cool for a few minutes before gently peeling the macaroons off the paper.
Chocolate ganache is one of the easiest (and most delicious) and versatile dessert elements to make. The chocolate ganache that glazes your cakes and pastries is the same chocolate ganache that you roll into truffles, with one very important exception: the proportion of cream to chocolate. Glazes and icings will require a thinner consistency which translates to a higher percentage of cream. A thicker glaze for frosting or for rolling into truffles needs to be stiffer, so the chocolate percentage is higher. Here’s a handy guide:
Chocolate Ganache Proportions
These proportions are based on weight. For example, a 1:1 ratio means 4 ounces chocolate to 4 ounces cream.
- Layer cake filling and thick glaze: 1:1, equal parts chocolate and cream.
- Chocolate truffles: 2:1, two parts chocolate to one part cream.
- Soft icing and pourable glaze: 1:2, one part chocolate to two parts cream.
The proportions for chocolate truffles works perfectly as the centre of the macaroon. To make the salted chocolate ganache, place the cream in a small saucepan and the chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the cream just to the boil and pour over the chocolate and add a good pinch of salt Leave to stand for a few mins, then stir to combine and then leave to set until thickened. Place the chocolate mix into a clean piping bag with a smaller nozzle and pipe around the edge of half the macaroons.
To assemble, pipe a generous blob of ganache onto the flat side of the macaroon, then sandwich with another macaroon shell.
Voila, the most delicious macaroon you’ve ever tasted!