Candy Cane Macarons, Easy Chocolate Balls & the end of 2013!

What a busy few weeks it has been, lots of cooking, way too much eating, and unfortunately not many photos of all that food to share with you. I love cooking Christmas goodies, and trust me there was plenty, but alas I can’t and won’t make people wait to eat them whilst I take some photos. There were just a few goodies left for me to photograph post the whirlwind of Xmas day – these Candy Cane Macarons and too easy Chocolate Balls.

Candy Cane Macarons & Chocolate Balls

If you have some leftover candy canes sitting on your tree right now then I suggest using them to make some of these amazing Candy Cane Macarons rather than throwing them out. They have all the flavour of Christmas wrapped up in a better package, you’ll be surprised at how much candy cane flavour you get in these, a must try for now or next Christmas.

Another addition that we always have on our Christmas spread are the kid-friendly and too easy to make Chocolate Balls. They literally take a mere moment to make, they taste great and the kids just love them. And you can of course make these easy Chocolate Balls at any time of year, the ingredients can sit on standby in your pantry so you can whip them up in a flash for whenever you need or just plain want them. But if you are making them for Christmas then there is a great Reindeer adaptation that you can do for the kids too.

Candy Cane Macarons

Candy Cane Macarons
Recipe adapted from Adriano Zumbo

Ingredients:

Macaron shells (Makes 50 halves / 25 macarons)
– 150g almond meal
– 150g pure icing sugar
– 55g egg whites
– 1g powdered egg white
– 150g caster sugar
– 38g water
– Red food colouring
– 55g egg whites, extra

Candy Cane Ganache
– 100g single pouring cream
– 35g candy canes, crushed
– 150g white chocolate, chopped finely

Method:

To make the candy cane ganache place the crushed candy canes and cream in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook stirring until the candy canes have completely dissolved, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate in a bowl, set aside for 2mins. After 2mins stir the mixture until the ganache is smooth. Set aside to cool completely and become firm enough to pipe. You may need to pop it in the fridge a little, but just be careful to keep checking and stirring it every 15mins so that it doesn’t end up getting too firm.

Place the almond meal and icing sugar in a processor and process to a fine powder, be careful not to over process the mixture as that will release the oils from the almond meal. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Place the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the red colouring, increase the heat and bring to a boil. When the mixture has almost reached 118 degrees celcius add the powdered egg white to the egg whites in the mixer and mix on a medium speed until the egg whites start to go frothy. When the sugar syrup reaches 118 degrees celcius, whilst the mixer is still running pour the syrup in a thin steady stream down the side of the bowl into the mixer. Continue to whisk until the mixture is warm, about 8mins.

Add the extra egg whites to the bowl with the almond meal and icing sugar, then add the meringue mixture. Mix well to combine, being sure to knock the air out of the mixture. As I’ve said before you want the mixture to be worked enough so that the mixture loosens, it should easily drop off the spoon and fall back into itself slowly.

Place the mixture into a piping bag and pipe into 4cm rounds onto baking trays lined with baking paper. Leave for 30mins or until a skin has formed over the surface of the macarons (when you touch the macaron it should not be sticky to the touch). Bake in a preheated oven at 135 degees celcius for 16-18mins. To check if they are cooked through, remove from the oven and leave for 2mins, then gently try to lift a macaron off the paper. If it is stuck to the paper then it needs further cooking, place back into the oven for another 2mins and then check again. Cool them completely on trays.

Pair up the macaron shells according to size. Pipe the ganache onto half the shells and then sandwich together. Place in the fridge overnight to set, this step is important as the macarons will absorb some of the ganache moisture and will make the shells the perfect consistency. Before serving take the macarons out of the fridge and let them come up to room temperature.

Easy Chocolate Balls

Easy Chocolate Balls

Ingredients:
– 1 packet of milk arrowroot biscuits (or another plain sweet biscuit alternative)
– 1 tin of sweetened condensed milk
– 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
– Chocolate chips (optional)
– Additional chocolate, melted
– Assorted chopped nuts, coconut, pretzels, or candy canes for decoration

Method:

Place the milk arrowroot biscuits in a processor and process to a fine powder. Alternatively you can also place them in a bag and crush with a rolling pin. Place in a bowl with the condensed milk, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips (as many as you like) and mix to combine. Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and then pop them in the fridge to set. Once set dip the balls into the melted chocolate to coat and sprinkle with a little decoration of your choice, like some chopped walnuts or pistachios, or some crushed up pretzels or even crushed candy canes. Or you can just leave them plain if you prefer. Place in the fridge to set for 1 hour.

Chocolate Reindeers
Adaptation of the Chocolate Balls for Christmas

A great adaptation of the Easy Chocolate Balls recipe for Christmas is to turn them into Chocolate Reindeer’s for the kids. I made a few this year, and they were a big hit with the kids! So much so, this is the only photo I have of them before they were devoured on Christmas morning.

Chocolate Reindeers

To make the Reindeer’s follow the Easy Chocolate Balls recipe as above, but before dipping them in the melted chocolate, place a lollipop stick in the bottom of each ball. Then dip them in the melted chocolate and place two pretzel antlers in each. To make the pretzel antlers, take a pretzel and carefully cut it in half down the middle, then take off the top of each loop to create the antler shape. After dipping in chocolate, stand the reindeers upright in a glass with some rice or beans in the bottom to stop them from falling over, and leave them to set completely. If you need to you can pop them in the fridge for a little while to help them set.

To add the eyes and nose, take a little icing sugar and a couple drops of water and mix together to make a thick paste. Place in a piping bag and pipe on two oval eyes. Next colour the remaining icing with some red food colouring and pipe on a round red nose. Use a black writing icing pen, or some more icing with black colouring, to pipe on a small black dot on the bottom of each of the white ovals to make the eyes. Put aside to set and then sit back and watch the kids go nuts for them.

Candy Cane Macarons & Easy Chocolate Balls

Candy Cane Macarons & Chocolate Balls

Candy Cane Macarons

Easy Chocolate Balls

Candy Cane Macarons

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and that you all have a safe and happy New Years. See you in 2014.

Enjoy! x

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