Liquorice macarons

You know those flavours that you either love or hate?  Well, I think liquorice is one of them.  I fall in the former camp.  I am a liquorice fan through and through.

As a child, I remember my mother carefully guarding an occasional box of Bassett’s liquorice allsorts that she would buy from the (unfortunately now non-existent) food hall at David Jones here in Brisbane city.

I was not setting out to create a liquorice flavoured macaron.  My initial list for the wedding favor trials consists of champagne, blueberry, matcha and lime-basil.  But after a hiccup or two, an opportunity presented itself.  Yet another batch of macarons. 

Being a liquorice lover, I have some liquorice flavoured tea in the pantry.  I was staring at the tea and had a flashback to some Earl Grey truffles I made last Christmas.  With a batch of light blue coloured macaron shells just screaming for some filling, I knew what I had to make.

After gently warming some cream, I added a couple of tablespoons of the liquorice tea.  I left that infuse then strained well.  I then proceeded to make a dark chocolate ganache.  The resulting flavour is noticeably liquorice-y but subtle.  It has a refreshing finish that marries perfectly with the cool blue shell.

I am not sure if these will make it to the wedding (the Champagne macarons are currently top of the list!), but I have enjoyed making and tasting them nonetheless.

For the shells, I used my standard macaron recipe, but I hope to actually trial a new version very soon!

{ Liquorice macarons }

* Ingredients *

100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g icing sugar
Blue food colouring
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

* Directions *

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, whip half the egg whites to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  At the final changes of whipping the meringue, add the food colouring.  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes.  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.  Refrigerate to set.

{ Liquorice cream }

* Ingredients *

120g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons liquorice tea

* Directions *

Heat cream and tea until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Let cool and rest for about an hour.  Strain the tea from the cream.  Reheat the cream gently and pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir.  Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken.

Talk about a global brainstorm.

From 4 continents in less than 3 days I have over 20 macaron flavour ideas for my wedding.  How amazing is that?  Thank you so much for all for your ideas (and keep them coming, please!).  To be honest, I was actually a little overwhelmed by all the options.  Where to start?  Where to start?

It will be difficult to choose only one or two flavours for the wedding.  But luckily, I am planning to continue my macaron adventures post-wedding.  With all these ideas, looks like I have no other choice!  What a shame…

{ Green }
1. Wasabi
2. Pandan and pandan/screw pine
3. Matcha tea
4. Lime
5. Kiwi
6. Mint macaron with chocolate cream and mint leaf
7. Mint macaron with vanilla cream and chocolate square
8. Basil
9. Lime-basil
10. Green tea and palm sugar
11. Apple and mint
12. Green cardamom (powder)
13. Pistachio with rose water

{ Purple }
14. Blackcurrant
15. Violet figs with honey cream filling
16. Black cherry

{ White }
17. Coconut
18. White shells filled with a white Russian butter cream
19. White rose
20. White chocolate
21. Salted caramel (well, close to white and given how delicious these macarons are, I could not help put them on the list!)

{ Blue / aqua }
22. Blueberry

Let the short listing commence…

Wedding inspiration board

First off, this post may seem to deviate away from baking, but I promise there is a (round-about!) connection.

I am getting married at the end of the year.  I am pretty excited as you can imagine.  And those that know me well, know that it also means one thing.  A highly researched, organised, considered event.  Do not get me wrong; there is absolutely nothing elaborate planned.  It will be a simple affair of 30-35 people, sans formalities.  No bridal party.  No speeches.  No first dance.  And dare I say it…no cake.

When first engaged, the prospect of eloping seemed very appealing.  Simple, minimal fuss, low key.  Problem was, we would miss out on sharing the day with family and close friends.  And really, at the end of the day, what is more important?  I was then reminded of the reason I bake.  It is really part of my fabric.  I love baking to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, birthdays.  I love to bake to give homemade gifts.  I love to learn and discover what families around the world incorporate as baking traditions into their lives.  For me, it is the people in your life that make you who you are and provide the joyous memories.  Baking helps me create those memories.

So you may be thinking, “if baking is so important in your life, why not have a cake at your own wedding?”

Good question.  There are two reasons why.

1. Because we do not want the formality of cake cutting, and
2. I am including something better!

Macarons.

Everyone knows I am obsessed with these little petit fours so what a better way to personalise my wedding day?  The search is now on for colours, flavours, fillings, packaging, labeling to give these little macarons the regard they deserve.

I have created my own ‘inspiration board’ (above) for the wedding.  I selected emerald green with hints of aqua and lavender as the theme colours.  (Long story!)  So far I have considered my macaron options to be pistachio, lavender and vanilla, to tie in with my colour palette.  But there are so many other choices. 

Any ideas for flavours, colours and filling?  Anyone made macarons for wedding favors?  Any tips or hints?

I am glad it did finally come back to baking – and my favourite kind at that.

{ Images }
1st Row: Champagne bottle photo by Jonathan Canlas, Green tie from Martha Stewart Weddings, Lavender field, Atonement movie scene, Long table photography from the Brides Cafe
2nd Row: Flowers from Martha Stewart Weddings, Invitation from Snippet and Ink, Table Number from Novak Photography, Champagne Truffles from Teuscher
3rd Row: Hanging Flowers from Apartment Therapy, Jewellery from Martha Stewart Weddings, ‘The Dress!’ – Wedding Dress, Oscar de la Renta, Martha Stewart Weddings Fall 2008
4th Row: Macarons from Paulette via Brooklyn Bride, Favor Boxes from Snippet and Ink