I’ve been slowly working through my macaron flavour list and finally arrived at popcorn!
My memories of popcorn brings me back to my high school days. It would be the last day of school before the summer holiday, and we would typically change from our school uniforms to causal wear and head out for an afternoon of fun. The bunch of us might go to see a movie (Finding Nemo, I think on this occasion) and for me, if I was having popcorn, it would always be sweet flavoured popcorn, not butter popcorn actually. It was quite a shock for me when I first went to a cinema here in NZ and discovered they only make fresh butter flavoured popcorn! The distinction was so profound I still haven’t understood or gotten over this simple fact. In honoring that memory, I have therefore used sweet popcorn in this version of my macarons. I was initially worried it would be way too sweet, but as it turns out this brand of sweet microwave popcorn wasn’t nearly as sweet as actual caramel popcorn, so the pairing of it with a salted caramel filling was subtle and appropriate.
Macarons shell ingredients
150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
6g valrhona cocoa powder
110 g egg whites
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1g meringue powder
1 packet sweet microwave popcorn
Making macarons shells
Follow the popcorn packet instructions and get the popcorn popping. You need to let it cool a bit before blitzing it to make the ‘snow’ (After my trip to Queenstown I am a bit obsessed with snow) and it seems to be a nice treat to snack on while you are working on a piece of art – macarons that is.
When they are cool, blitz about half of the bag, taking care to remove the burnt ones, if any.
Now for the shells.
Sift the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa powder, set aside in a large wide bowl.
Put half of the egg whites into your stand mixer.
Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions to a milk saucepan, put the water and caster sugar in and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Don’t splash the sugar around, and don’t stir. Use a clean pastry brush to brush down the side of the saucepan to avoid any crystallization if the liquid splashes up. Increase the heat.
Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium speed until it becomes frothy.
Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, decrease the mixer speed to medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. (Be warned not to get the syrup onto the whisk as you will then have spun sugar.) Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.
Add the extra egg white to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue mixing the mixture to soften the meringue. Don’t be afraid to slap the mixture down.To achieve “macaronnage”, I mixed the batter about 25 times. Don’t over do this.
Scoop half into a piping bag fitted with a #12 Wilton tip, and pipe.
Today I waited for 30 minutes for a skin to form.
I fan-baked them at 125°C, for 20 minutes. After a few minutes in the oven, I could see them rising nicely.
Once out of the oven, the macarons were left for 2 minutes on its trays before I checked them. They peeled off the baking paper quite easily. I then slid the whole sheet off the baking sheet onto my cool marble counter top. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier to peel off.
I paired these with a salted caramel with popcorn ‘snow’ filling
200g castor sugar
310ml fresh cream
50g butter, cubed
5g good quality salt flakes
A few drops of vanilla essence
2 tbsp popcorn snow
Heat the sugar in a wide saucepan until melted and golden colour.
Be careful and wait for it to turn amber and slightly smoke.
Carefully add the cream in slowly, continuing to whisk but be very careful of the resulting vigorous bubbling.
Add the butter in gradually until melted and combined.
Add in salt flakes, vanilla essence and the popcorn snow.
Cool in fridge for a few hours.
put the salted caramel onto half of the shells.
Melt a litte bit of butter (20g) and brush the tops of the other half of the shells with butter, and then dip it into the popcorn snow. Pipe or use a small offset spatula, place salted caramel filling onto the other half of the shells and pair up.
I’ve rolled some of my macarons in the snow completely too.
These need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells, so don’t eat it yet! These freeze well (up to 3 months).