I’m really happy with this recipe, and I’m sure you will like it too! What we have here are really chocolatey macaron shells, filled with milk chocolate ganache and rolled in homemade honeycomb. That’s right – the upmarket patisserie version of that old favourite chocolate bar, the Crunchie!
It was one of my favourites as a child and nowadays, I save a bar for when I need a sweet nostalgia trip in the form of a choccie bar in a very aesthetically pleasing, brightly coloured packet. Yup, I’ve still got the mental age of an 8-year-old when choosing my candy! When I came up with the recipe for these and explained what I was up to to Hungry Hubby, he came up with the best name for my Crunchie Macarons – Macarunchies! Chic and fun in equal measure!
Since I discovered a trustworthy and reproducible macaron, I’ve been gradually increasing the amount of cocoa to see how much I can add before they fail. My first ones were very pale and delicately flavoured, in fact, the almond was very present in the cocoa but I’ve had great results upping the cocoa to the amount in this new recipe. Utterly delicious and perfect to mimic a confectionary classic in the form of a macaron.
If you have never had a Crunchie bar before, they are simply a bar of honeycomb (which also goes by the names cinder toffee and hokey pokey – how can you not love a sweet treat with such fantastically poetic synonyms?) covered in milk chocolate. I liked biting off the chocolate from the sides and ends before I devoured the golden nugget central bar of honeycomb when I was a tot.
After the success of my Creme Brûlée Macarons I simply had to got a-rollin’ and whip up a batch of honeycomb to finish them off with. If you have never made it yourself before, you’ll be thrilled to hear it takes seconds to make and is utterly compulsive to eat. You’ll be crumbling it onto ice cream sundaes, dipping chunks in chocolate, filling cakes and baking it into cupcakes before you know it!
This post is in no way sponsored by Cadbury’s by the way, I’m just a little bit obsessed with using favourite confectionary style chocolate in my bakes. As evidenced by my Terry’s Chocolate Orange Brownies, Malteaser Cookies and Homemade Rolos. Don’t forget to check them out too :D
- 144 g aged egg whites
- 28 g cocoa powder
- 180 g ground almonds
- 180 g icing sugar
- 180 g caster sugar
- 45 g cold water
- 300 g milk chocolate
- 100 ml double cream
- 50 g caster sugar
- 2 rounded tbsp Golden Syrup
- 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 4-5 large metal baking trays
- Digital scales
- Food processor
- Fine sieve
- Stand mixer
- Candy/sugar thermometer
- Flexible spatulas
- Two large bowls
- A piping bag
- Reusable silicone baking sheets or reliable baking parchment
Make your ganache first. Place your milk chocolate into a bowl. Chop it if not using chips/callets.
Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan then pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for a minute then beat to encourage it all to melt. On a cold day, you may have to zap it in the microwave once or twice but it's usually fine without on even an English summer day!
Scrape into a piping bag, clip the top to keep it closed and pop in the fridge until needed.
Bring the egg whites to room temp first.
Line the trays with magic liners, macaron mats or baking parchment.
Weigh 72g of egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer as well as another 72g into a large bowl.
Blitz the ground almonds icing sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor for 90 seconds then stop the machine, stir it well to break down any clumps and give it another 60 second blitz.
Sift the mix from the food processor over the second bowl with half the egg whites in. Use a spatula to mix it until it is a thick, well mixed sticky paste. Set aside whilst you make the Italian meringue.
Weigh your water and sugar into a small, heavy based saucepan and get the thermometer ready. Turn the heat onto medium-high and swirl to combine the sugar and water.
Start whisking the egg whites in your stand mixer on medium high and let it run until stiff peaks form. You may need to start the whisking off by hand or tip the stand mixer up to get the eggs to catch as there is such a small amount - obviously the second option could be a tad risky so beware!
Bring the sugar syrup to the boil, with the thermometer immersed in the sugar until you reach a temp of 118˚C. Turn the stand mixer back on and steadily pour the syrup onto the egg whites in a thin stream avoiding the whisk and the side of the bowl or it will solidify and form little shards of sugar. The egg whites will really increase in volume at this stage. Once all of the syrup has been poured onto the egg whites, leave the mixer running until the outside of the bowl has cooled. It will take several minutes.
Now, scrape the Italian meringue into the bowl of cocoa almond paste. Use a firm motion with your flexible spatula to mix the meringue into the paste and stop as soon as there are no streaks left.
Use your spatula to draw a line through the mixture and start counting to 30 - the line should have disappeared in that time. If not, give it 3-5 more firm turns and try again. Be cautious but as long as you're not beating away for a minute or more at a time, you won't over mix it.
Fill a large piping bag with the macaron mixture, cut an opening 5mm across the tip and pipe out onto your prepared trays. Holding the bag vertically and keeping it still works very well - aim for about 2.5-3cm across and space at 1-2 inches apart (if using a silicone macaron mat, stop 2 mm short of the rim to allow for spreading; note that these make quite small macs so you may get closer to 50 out of this mixture). A properly mixed mac mixture will smooth down and lose any nipple effect after standing for 30 seconds. If it doesn’t, it need a few more turns to mix it. (You can pipe a little bit of the mixture before filling the bag with the full amount to be sure but once you've made them a few times, you'll get a *feel* for the proper texture and won't need to bother).
Tap the trays of macarons onto the counter top to knock any excess air out up to 3 times - just don’t be too heavy handed!
Leave for at least 30 minutes before baking somewhere cool until a skin forms on the outside. Preheat the oven to 160˚C WITH THE FAN ON. It just works better than an ordinary oven. And I can't recommend using an in-oven thermometer highly enough, do not rely on the dial on your oven!
Cook one tray full at a time for 12 minutes - open the door and test by pushing the macaron a little (very gently) on the top - it should not move. If it wobbles, cook another 2 minutes and test again. These chocolate macarons can take upto 16 minutes to cook which is longer than my other recipes.
Now to be certain they are cooked, leave each tray to cool for 5 minutes then try to lift one of the central macs straight off the tray - if it doesn’t come off cleanly, pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes.
Cook the remaining trayfuls in the same manner and leave on the trays until completely cold before removing them and filling.
Next make the honeycomb. In a medium to large saucepan, add the caster sugar and Golden Syrup - stir to mix *before* you apply heat. Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the sugar to dissolve and then everything start to bubble.
Take off the heat and add the bicarbonate (careful - it will bubble up and rise a lot, so it is crucial to not use a tiny saucepan) whisk to combine and immediately pour out onto a reusable silicone sheet, greased foil or baking parchment and leave to set. This will take about half an hour. When solid, bash up in a mortar and pestle to give little chunks and some golden dust.
Take the ganache out of the fridge when it as thick as toothpaste - you may need to leave it at room temp a short while or massage the bag in your hands to warm it up a little. Snip off 5mm from the bag and sandwich together by piping generously onto one shell then offering up a second with a little twist to secure it.
Roll the edge of the macaron immediately in the prepared honeycomb.
Keep in the fridge ideally for at least one day before serving - two days is perfect and it's crucial to bring them to room temp so the ganache softens a little before eating. 30 minutes on a hot day/in a hot country will be just enough :D
As with most macarons, these freeze very well so don't worry about making so many in one batch.
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