Our time in New Zealand has almost, almost come to an end. And this time more than ever, I am equal parts ‘can’t wait to get back to nyc and get back into a routine’, and ‘OMG I can’t wait until I actually live here for realsies’. The grand plan (!!) is to eventually move back to the motherland (being NZ) - we have thrown round 2020 as being our year to do so. We have spent the last couple of days in Wellington, where Rich and I met (we both went to Uni here), and today we are looking at open homes! We probably won’t buy just yet, but hopefully in the next year or so, so that we have something to move into when we get back. I love NYC with all my heart, but I really can’t wait to have a big kitchen that’s all mine, along with some grass and a lemon tree.
Something I am REALLY looking forward to though when I get back - Jase moved! He already lived kinda close, but now he has moved to, like, a 5 minute walk from my house. Rich worked out how much money i’m gonna save not ubering to his place all the time, but I’m mainly just stoked because him and his puppies are going to be so close, and I LOVE going to the dog park, but it’s kinda like going to a play ground without kids - a bit weird. So puppy and Jase proximity = I’m allowed to tag along to the dog park and we get to hang out loads more = a very happy wee me. This also means that my trip to his for our monthly macaron making is going to be so short! I’m already thinking i’ll order some slippers to keep at his house so I don’t have to transport them every time. lol.
These Mint Chocolate Chip Macarons with German Buttercream came about when we were making these wee Peach Streusel dudes. We finally worked out that the air con at Jase’s house was making them come out all kinds of weird shapes, so these were the batch to prove that we had solved the problem! I love mint chip ice cream more than almost anything in the world, so I was super stoked to make this flavour - and the buttercream came out tasting just just like the ice cream. The thing I love about German Buttercream is that it isn’t super super buttery tasting, because the butter is mellowed out a little by the pastry cream base. We added some peppermint extract and finely chopped chocolate, and ended up with a mint chip german buttercream that I couldn’t stop eating by the spoonful. The best. I can’t wait to put the buttercream on a cake, because it is all kinds of delicious.
A few wee tips:
Everything I ever learnt about Macarons is in this post - I keep it all in one place because the list is getting super super long.
The pastry cream needs a wee bit of time to cool before you add the butter, so make sure you account for that! Otherwise you can cool it quicker in an ice bath, or by spreading it in a quarter baking sheet lined with plastic, covering the surface of the pastry cream with another piece of plastic wrap, and chilling it in the freezer until cool. The larger surface area and shallow baking sheet mean that it cools much faster.
Because you start with cool pastry cream (as opposed to slightly warm meringue as you would for a SMBC), make sure that your butter is very room temperature. If it isn't quite soft enough and you find your buttercream is seizing, you can remove about 1/3 cup of the buttercream, melt in the microwave, and then add back in and continue whipping. The heat from the melted buttercream is often enough to bring it all back together into the silky niceness you are after.
I like to make the pastry cream, then make the macaron shells, arrange them all, then finish up the buttercream before assembly.
Mint Chocolate Chip Macarons with German Buttercream
- Makes about 24 Macarons -
Mint Chip German Buttercream
190g whole milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
12g (1 1/2 Tbsp) corn starch
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
340g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
150g dark chocolate, finely chopped
170g ground almonds
300g powdered sugar
180g egg whites, at room temperature
about 4 drops of mint green gel food colouring (we used mint green by americolor)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- PROCESS -
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.
Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan.
Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow dish or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold - at least four hours, preferably overnight.
Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. It may look curdled at some point but just keep whipping - it will come together! Once the buttercream is homogenous, add the peppermint extract and dark chocolate, and mix well to combine. Store in an airtight container until ready to use, or if using immediately, transfer to a piping bag.
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.
Combine the almond meal and powdered sugar together in a large bowl. Sift the mixture twice, to ensure there are no large lumps and that the mixture is properly aerated. Set aside.
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 mint 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.
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.
Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a round attachment (such as an ateco #805) Match the macaron shells up so that they are in pairs of equal size.
Pipe a blob of buttercream on one half of the macaron, and place the second half on top, pressing lightly. Macarons are best after an overnight rest in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before eating.