Rhubarb Sticky Buns with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting


 
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen
Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen

I spent a while to think about something fun or witty to say here, but all I can think of is how hot it is here, how I have a ridiculous amount of things to do (don't we all - I hate people who complain about how busy they are but just let me for one quick sec), and how i'm happy and also sad that bunny, our perfect wee foster cat has potentially found her forever home! I am so happy for her - the people adopting her couldn't be more perfect, but i'm also not so secretly gutted to be saying goodbye to her. She came to us as a scared little nugget who wouldn't leave her bed in her socialisation crate for two weeks, and over the last three months, with a load of hard work, has transformed into the most perfect little weirdo! I don't think saying goodbye will ever get easier, but i'm going to stop talking about it now because it's making the computer screen a bit blurry. 

Something that is fun and maybe witty though - these rhubarb sticky buns! Cinnamon buns / morning buns / sticky buns / scrolls / whatever you like to call them, are my favourite type of bread to make. I love how versatile the dough is (I use my fave brioche dough, which can be used for doughnuts, babka, burger buns etc), how you can fill them with anything you like, and also how it's totally acceptable to load them up with icing.  

I figured I might as well make the most of rhubarb season still being in full swing, so I made a batch of brioche dough, spiked with a little vanilla bean paste (more on that later), then filled it with a super simple rhubarb vanilla bean compote. Once they had rested for their second proof and been baked off, I finished them with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting, which I deliberately left on the slightly less sweet side to really let the rhubarb shine through.  These are probably some of the best buns i've made - they rival the chelsea buns which are possibly my forever faves. The rhubarb is tart, the brioche fluffy, and mascarpone should be put on / in everything forever and ever. 

These buns had a triple dose of vanilla bean paste in them - in the dough, the filling and the frosting. I used my very fave vanilla from an amazing New Zealand company called Heilala Vanilla. Not only are they a NZ company run by the most incredible people breaking into the international market, but they have a very special story, one which makes me very proud to use their product, and super excited to share with you guys! 

Tonga, which is a country in the South Pacific made up of a chain of small islands, was hit insanely hard by a cyclone in 2002, greatly damaging their economy and infrastructure. The Ross Family planted a small vanilla plantation as an aid project - a way to inject some money and employment back into the community. Since their first harvest, with the growth of the use of vanilla in commercial and home kitchens, they have gone on to partner with growers all over Tonga, injecting money back into the Tongan economy, specifically in relation to providing women with jobs, and providing kitchens all over the world with responsibly sourced, organically grown Vanilla. You can read more about their story here.

Their story is special, but the Vanilla is also INSANE. I use it in almost everything I make (it gets used a bit like salt - goes in everything), and I can't recommend it enough. If you would like to try it, you can purchase on Amazon, or we are giving away four sets of a year's supply of vanilla (12 jars) - two here on the blog, and two over on Instagram!

All you have to do is make sure you are subscribed to my mailing list (the wee box on the side!), and then leave a comment letting me know what your favourite thing to make with vanilla is! Competition is open until 8pm on the 29th July, 2018, and is open to US residents only. Oh, and make these buns. Because they are bomb. 

A few wee tips:

  • Prepare the rhubarb compote ahead of time, or before you start to make the dough, so that it has time to cool before you spread. 
  • Want to make these for breakfast? The first proof can be done overnight in the fridge! 
  • I deliberately left the frosting a little on the not so sweet side - feel free to adjust if you think it needs a little more icing sugar. 
  • The brioche dough may feel hard to roll out at first. If you find it is springing back on you, give it 5 minutes to relax before rolling. The rolling and cutting process will feel sloppy and look messy, but once the buns are in their baking tray you can nudge them back into shape a little. They also look much better once they have risen / baked - promise! 
  • These don't have to be made with rhubarb - any type of quick jam in the filling will work! You may just need to bear in mind that the sugar in the frosting may need adjusting.
  • The weight for the rhubarb is the weight of the chopped rhubarb - so you need 750g prepared.
 

 

Rhubarb Sticky Buns with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting

- Makes about 12 -

Rhubarb Quick Jam
750g Rhubarb (chopped weight), trimmed and chopped into approx 2" pieces
375g granulated sugar
Pinch Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
 

Brioche Dough
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup (240ml) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp sugar
3 3/4 cups (565g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting
225g Mascarpone
225g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
100g Powdered sugar, sifted

 

- PROCESS -

RHUBARB QUICK JAM

Combine the rhubarb, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly, and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until thick and jammy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before stirring in the vanilla bean paste. Set aside to cool completely. Store in a jar in the fridge until ready to use.

BRIOCHE DOUGH

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 Tbsp of the sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth. 

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth. 

Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours. 

ASSEMBLY AND BAKING

Lightly grease a 9" x 13" baking dish or pan. Turn the brioche dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and pat into a rectangle. Roll out to a 24" x 18" rectangle, using a bench scraper to help keep the edges square. 

Spread the rhubarb quick jam evenly over the surface of the dough, and, starting with a short end, roll the dough up into a tight sausage. Cut the sausage into 2" lengths (I find cutting the whole thing in half, then each half into two, and then each quarter section into 3 works best). If your sausage is not 24" long (lol), measure the length first before you cut, and divide the length by 12 so your pieces are even. 

Arrange each bun in your prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm spot for 45 min to an hour, or  until they have gone puffy, and when lightly poked, your finger leaves a slight indentation that bounces back. This second proving time will depend on the weather - it will go much quicker in warmer climates.

Toward the end of the second proof, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. 

Remove the plastic wrap, and bake the buns for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown (finished internal temp of 200˚f). If you think they are browning too quickly, tent with foil after 20 minutes. While the buns are baking, make the vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. 

Remove the buns from the oven, and allow to cool for 15 min before frosting generously with the frosting.

VANILLA BEAN MASCARPONE FROSTING

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until smooth and fluffy. Taste and adjust sugar content if necessary.

Spread generously over the buns. Serve immediately.

Store leftovers in an airtight container. Briefly rewarm before eating.

Rhubarb Sticky Buns - Brioche Spiked with vanilla, filled with rhubarb quick jam, and finished with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting. #stickybuns #rhubarb #vanillabean #cloudykitchen

Thank you so much to Heilala Vanilla for providing me with the vanilla for this post and the giveaway! 

Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie


 
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie
Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie

Hi there. I'm so sorry I've been a little slack getting recipes up here for you. Our gas to our building has now been out for 3 weeks, and for someone like me, this is the biggest pain in the ass. I'm just wondering how long before I can ask our landlord to buy us an electric oven - because this is starting to get ridiculous. Coupled with a cheeky Kidney infection I managed to get (I've been prone to them since I was a baby, would not recommend!), things have been a little quiet. 

I have however been managing to get by - my little countertop convection oven has saved my butt big time - it can fit 3 six inch cake tins, a pie tin, and a 9"x13" baking tin, (not all at once), so as long as things are able to be made in vessels of those dimensions, we are set. 

Seeing as we are right in the thick of rhubarb season I figured it was only fair that I dropped another rhubarb recipe into the mix with this Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie. I had big plans to use one of Julie's recipes as the base for this tart, as I have been dying to try her method for the longest time, but got intimidated by braiding short crust pastry, so stuck to pie dough, which I am much more comfortable with. However I did discover that baking a slab pie in a removable bottom tart tin is a game changer - so, so easy to pop out, and the fluted edges make it super easy to trim the pie dough flush with the edges. Slab pies are my new fave - they are easy to make, and perfect for a crowd. Expect to see a lot more of them around here. 

I went with my usual pie dough recipe, sweetening it up just a touch, then filled the bottom with a frangipane - a sweet paste made with ground almonds, egg, sugar and butter. The frangipane was then topped with some rhubarb, which I had previously roasted to help remove some of the moisture and add a little sweetness to. I then topped the whole thing off with a decorative lattice crust, and it was baked off. Each element complimented the other perfectly - the flaky pie crust, the nutty sweet frangipane, and the tart rhubarb. It's definitely going to be made around here again before rhubarb season is up. 

A few wee tips:

  • I made this in a tart pan with a removable bottom, but you could make it in a jelly roll pan or quarter sheet pan too. 
  • The pie dough is best if you can give it an overnight rest before using. 
  • The Rhubarb can be roasted ahead, and the frangipane can be made ahead of time if needed, too. 
  • I used pie stamps to make the shapes on the top of this - they are from Williams Sonoma and Amazon. They are my fave things - they make the pie look so fancy with little effort, and are great for using up scraps. 
  • When I roll out pastry for stamping, I like to pop it in the freezer for about 5 minutes to allow it to firm up slightly, so I can cut out a nice sharp stamp shape.
 

 

Rhubarb Frangipane Slab pie

- Makes one 11" x 8" slab pie -

Frangipane adapted from The Brick Kitchen 

Pie Dough
3 3/4 cups (470g) Flour
Pinch of Salt
3 tsp (8g) sugar
3 sticks (340g) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) Apple cider vinegar

Roasted Rhubarb
900g Rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 10cm pieces
1 Vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
200g (1 cup) sugar
1/2 cup water
pinch salt

Frangipane Filling
140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
160g sugar (3/4 cup)
200g almond meal / almond flour
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
pinch salt

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Raw / Turbinado Sugar for Sprinkling
 

 

- PROCESS -

PIE DOUGH

Place flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or  your fingers,  cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.

Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 10-12 tbsp) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into two rectangles, one slightly larger than the other, and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. 

 

ROASTED RHUBARB

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Arrange the rhubarb in a 9" x 13 baking sheet. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise using a sharp knife, and nestle in the rhubarb. Combine the sugar, water and salt in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved, and pour over the rhubarb. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the rhubarb is just tender. Remove from the oven and cool. Remove the rhubarb from the syrup, and place on a paper towel to drain. Reserve the syrup - it is perfect for cocktails or soda! 

 

FRANGIPANE FILLING

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar until just combined. Add the almond meal, egg, vanilla, and salt, and mix until incorporated. Set aside until required. 

 

ASSEMBLY AND BAKING

Roll out the smaller rectangle of dough until it is approximately 1/8" (3mm) in thickness. Line an 11" x 8" removable bottom tart tin with the dough, trimming any overhang flush with the edge of the tin. Keep any scraps and re-roll to use for decoration - I usually use these pieces for pastry stamps

Using an offset spatula, spread the frangipane evenly in the bottom of the lined pie tin. Top with the roasted rhubarb, pressing down gently on the pieces. 

Roll out the second rectangle of dough, and cut strips to be used for a lattice. Lattice however you like - for this one I did a range of different width strips, cut with both a straight cutter and a fluted cutter, and incorporated some braids into the lattice too. Keep any scraps to use for stamping if desired. 

Place the finished pie in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. While the pie is resting, preheat the oven to 425˚f/ 220˚c. Place a baking tray on the bottom rack of the oven. 

Brush the pie with egg wash, and sprinkle liberally with raw sugar. Bake at 425˚f / 220˚c for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to go golden. Reduce the temperature 375˚f / 190˚c, and bake until the pastry is deeply golden and the filling is bubbling. 

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Rhubarb Frangipane Slab Pie - Flaky tender pie crust, sweet nutty frangipane, and vanilla infused roasted rhubarb. Perfect Spring or Early Summer Pie

Lemon and Basil Macarons with Lemon and Basil Cream and Lemon Gel


 
Lemon and Basil Macarons - French Macaron shells are filled with a lemon and basil cream, and a tart lemon gel. Delicate an intense flavours meld together to create the perfect bite.
Lemon and Basil Macarons - French Macaron shells are filled with a lemon and basil cream, and a tart lemon gel. Delicate an intense flavours meld together to create the perfect bite.
Lemon and Basil Macarons - French Macaron shells are filled with a lemon and basil cream, and a tart lemon gel. Delicate an intense flavours meld together to create the perfect bite.
Lemon and Basil Macarons - French Macaron shells are filled with a lemon and basil cream, and a tart lemon gel. Delicate an intense flavours meld together to create the perfect bite.
Lemon and Basil Macarons - French Macaron shells are filled with a lemon and basil cream, and a tart lemon gel. Delicate an intense flavours meld together to create the perfect bite.
Lemon and Basil Macarons - French Macaron shells are filled with a lemon and basil cream, and a tart lemon gel. Delicate an intense flavours meld together to create the perfect bite.
Lemon and Basil Macarons - French Macaron shells are filled with a lemon and basil cream, and a tart lemon gel. Delicate an intense flavours meld together to create the perfect bite.

Just sneaking in on the last day of May to share our May recipe for macs! I know each time I post a macaron recipe I say that it is my favourite so far - but these ones really take the cake. Jase and I wanted to take full advantage of all the late winter citrus that was around, so we filled the shells with a lemon and basil cream, and a lemon gel. Lemon gel is something that has been familiar to me for a while, ever since I tasted it at the restaurant my friend worked at, but it was the first time I had made it. It's super simple - you make a simple syrup, combine with lemon juice, and then add agar agar, which is essentially vegan gelatin, made from a type of seaweed (same as petri dishes!). It sets up solid, and after an overnight rest, you blitz it up and it becomes the most amazing tart gel which is perfect to balance out creamy or sweet components. Unlike a curd it is not competing with the butter or the yolks in the recipe, so it gives a super intense lemon flavour which was amazing in the centre of the macs, and stood up amazingly against the lemon and basil cream. 

The lemon and basil cream is essentially just a lemon curd, but made with a slightly different method - You cook everything apart from the butter together into a custard, then emulisify the butter into the mixture using an immersion blender. The result is a super creamy, spreadable cream, perfect for filling tarts or macarons. We popped some basil in there too - safe to say i'm going to be adding basil to a lot more lemon things from here on out. 

A few wee tips:

  • I have put all the tips and tricks I can think of for macarons in this post!
  • Both the lemon basil cream and gel need overnight to set properly, so make sure that you allow time for this. They can be made a few days in advance if needed - and the cream freezes beautifully. 
  • In fact, if you can, make the lemon basil cream a few days ahead, as it matures very nicely and the basil comes out more over time. 
  • These do tend to go a little soggy after two days because of the gel - so if you have lots leftover, then it may be best to store it all separately then assemble as needed. I often store things such as buttercream or lemon cream in the fridge, in the piping bag I was using, just with a clip to seal.
  • I read something the other day about Bob's red Mill Superfine almond meal not being the best for french macs because of the moisture content - I switched mine up quick smart!
  • You can get agaragar on Amazon, or at health food stores! Read the reviews - the first stuff I got tasted like butts.
 

 

Lemon and Basil Macarons with Lemon and Basil Cream and Lemon Gel

- Makes about 24 Sandwiched Macarons -

Lemon and Basil Cream
150ml Lemon juice (1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp) 
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
150g (3/4 cup) sugar
30g fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Pinch salt
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Lemon Gel
250g lemon juice
125g simple syrup (dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 1/2 cup water, and use 125g of this mixture)
5g agaragar powder

Macaron Shells
170g ground almonds
300g powdered sugar
180g egg whites, at room temperature
160g sugar
Lemon yellow gel food colouring - we used 15 drops of americolor 'lemon'
 

 

- PROCESS -

LEMON AND BASIL CREAM

Create a 'double boiler' by placing a medium pot of water over a medium heat, and bringing to a simmer. Place a heatproof glass or stainless steel bowl over the pot, making sure that the bowl does NOT touch the water. 

Combine the lime juice, egg yolks, eggs, sugar, basil, and salt in the heatproof bowl, whisking together immediately to stop the sugar from cooking the egg yolks. 

Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it reaches 180˚f / 80˚c. This may take some time (approx 15 minutes). Be patient, and make sure you do bring it right up to the required temperature. 

Remove the bowl from the heat, and set aside, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is 140˚f / 60˚c. Strain through a sieve into a clean mixing bowl. Add the butter, a chunk at a time, blending well with an immersion blender until completely combined before adding the next chunk. Alternatively you can do this in a blender. The cream should be pale and thick by the time you are finished. 

Transfer to an airtight container, press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the cream, and cover. Refrigerate overnight, or until ready to use. 

LEMON GEL

In a small pan, bring the simple syrup to a boil. Add the agar, remove from the heat, and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool until about room temperature, then add the lemon juice and stir well to combine. Place in a sealed container and chill overnight - it will set up to very hard. Blitz with a stick blender or in a blender, and chill until ready to use.

MACARON SHELLS

Preheat oven to 300˚f / 150˚c, and position the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Using a round cookie cutter or the base of a large piping tip (something about 1.5 inches in diameter), draw a "template" for your macarons on a piece of parchment paper, leaving about 3/4" between each circle. 

Place the ground almonds and powdered sugar in the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse until it resembles very fine crumbs. Sift twice through a sieve, discarding any chunks, and set aside. If there are a large number of chunks, return to the food processor and pulse again. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the mixer speed, and whip on high until the meringue starts to firm up. Add yellow gel food colour a few drops at a time, until the desired colour is reached. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Continue to whip until the meringue forms stiff peaks (there is a good example here). 

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the ground almond and powdered sugar mixture, and fold into the meringue. You want to deflate the meringue just a little at this stage, to combine the meringue and ground almond mixture. 

Add the remaining ground almond mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Again, this video does a good job of explaining it. Fold the mixture in a series of 'turns', deflating the batter by spreading it against the side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the movement - scooping the batter from the bottom of the bowl, and spreading it against the side. Continuously check the consistency of the batter - you want it to flow like lava when you lift the spatula from the bowl, and you should be able to 'draw' a figure 8 with it, without the batter breaking (again, watch lots of videos to get an idea! They help so much). This step can take some practice until you know what it should feel and look like. If in doubt you are better to under mix them than over mix them - the process of putting the batter into the bag and piping out will help mix a little too.

Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an ateco #805. Place the macaron template on a sheet pan, and place a second piece of parchment over it. Holding the piping bag at a 90˚ angle to the surface, pipe out the batter into blobs the size of the circles drawn on the template. Finish off each piped circle with a little "flick" of your wrist to minimise the batter forming a point (it will still form a small one, but we can get rid of this with banging). Remove the template from under the macarons.

Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the bench. Repeat this a few more times - this will get rid of any air bubbles, remove points on the top, and help them to spread out slightly. 

Repeat the piping and banging process until you have used up all of the batter - I usually make three sheet pans worth. Sprinkle the tops of the macarons with the hundreds and thousands sprinkles. 

Allow the macarons to dry at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes, or until they form a skin that you can touch without your finger sticking to them. This time will drastically vary depending on the humidity. 

About fifteen minutes before you are going to bake the macarons, place a spare sheet pan in the oven to preheat - this is going to be used to place under the pan with the macarons on it, to double up, which should help with even baking. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time - place the sheet with the macarons on the preheated sheet, and place in the oven. 

Bake for approximately 18 minutes, rotating the pan once during the cooking process, and checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The macarons should develop a foot (the ruffled part on the bottom of the macaron), and bake without browning. To see if they are done - press down lightly on a shell. If the foot gives way, it needs a little longer, if it is stable, then it is close to being done. Test a macaron shell - if you can peel it away cleanly from the paper, they are done. If they are stable but cannot yet peel away cleanly, give them another minute or so. Again, this part takes a little trial and error depending on your oven. If they seem done but do not peel away cleanly, do not worry - there is a little trick for that! 

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before peeling off the parchment paper and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the baking with the remaining trays, using the same spare sheet pan to double up.

If your macs do not peel away cleanly, place them, on the parchment paper, into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then peel away from the paper. 

Store cooled macarons in an airtight container until ready to use. 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Transfer the lemon basil cream into a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Transfer the lemon gel into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. 

Pair each macaron shell with another of a similar size. Pipe a ring of buttercream on one half, pipe a small blob of lemon gel in the middle, and then sandwich with the second shell. Macarons taste best if you 'mature' them in the fridge overnight to let the flavours meld, but they are perfect eaten immediately too! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge - if you are going to be storing for more than 2 days, store the components separately to avoid them going soggy.

Lemon and Basil Macarons - French Macaron shells are filled with a lemon and basil cream, and a tart lemon gel. Delicate an intense flavours meld together to create the perfect bite.