Christmas! Well, December... close enough. Any excuse to bake things really. If I was a shopping centre, this would be 3 months too late.

I love mince pies. They're just great, can't get much better than that really. Turns out you can. Turn mince pies into macarons, and its a dreamy spiced fruity delight to stuff in your mouth. Why stop at 4? eat the whole batch, thats really Christmasey!

For this recipe, you'll need to prep your fruit mince at least a couple of days before making the macarons. This makes 25 macarons.

Mince Pie  Macarons

Ingredients

Fruit Mince

  • 200g mixed fruit
  • 30g glace cherries, chopped
  • 40g fresh dates, chopped (could use dried but I had fresh)
  • 1.5 tsp mixed spice
  • 50ml brandy

 

Place all ingredients in an airtight container, set aside to macerate for at least two days. Shake it around every now and then to distribute the brandy.

Ingredients

Macarons

  • 120g egg white, split into two lots of 60g
  • 150g almond flour
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 4 tsp mixed spice
  • 35g castor sugar
  • 150g water
  • 150g castor sugar


Combine almond flour and icing sugar in food processor and pulse until fine. Sift into a bowl and add the mixed spice.

Place 60g of the egg whites in a mixer with a whisk attachment ready to go.

Heat the 150g castor sugar and 150g water in a saucepan on low until the sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, turn up to medium high and boil. You'll need to brush down the sides with water occasionally to prevent it crystallizing.

While the sugar syrup is boiling, start your egg whites in the mixer. Add the 35g castor sugar once fluffy.

You'll need to aim for the sugar syrup to reach 240 - 245 degrees fahrenheit as your egg whites form soft peaks. Once the sugar is up to temperature, slowly pour it into the egg whites with the mixer on high. Once all the sugar is added, continue to whisk on medium high until it becomes cool and shiny (around 8 minutes).

Fold the remaining egg whites, the egg and sugar syrup, and 1/3 of the almond meal and icing sugar until combined. Add the remaining Almond meal and fold gently. The mixture will gradually soften, and ribbons should dissolve into the mix at around 30 seconds when it is the right consistency. Too thick and your macarons will have tips on top, too runny and they will spread too much.

Mince Pie Macarons

Place the mixture in an icing bag with a 1cm tip. Line a cookie tray with baking paper and pipe out 4cm circles leaving a nice gap around each for spreading. Tap the tray on the bench a couple of times to remove any air pockets.

Set the tray aside for 30 or so minutes until a skin forms on top. Bake for 15 mins at 150 degrees. This can vary greatly between ovens. You know they're done when you can press against one and the top doesn't shift from the base. The base should be firm and separate fairly easily from the baking paper, if they don't lift - pop them back in for a few minutes and try again.

Mince Pie   Macarons

Set macaron shells aside to cool.

 

Ingredients

Italian Meringue Buttercream Filling

  • Macerated fruit mince which was prepared earlier, Blitzed in food processor until reasonably smooth
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (4 - 5 eggs at room temperature)
  • 105g brown sugar
  • 30ml water
  • 170g unsalted butter (softened but not too soft)


Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, increase the heat to a medium / medium-high (I use 6 on an induction cooktop). Start your mixer on a medium speed at this point.

Brush down the edges of the saucepan as the sugar syrup boils to prevent crystalisation. You want to bring the syrup up to 240 - 245 degrees fahrenheit which with this small amount will only take a few minutes. When you get close to the target temperature, increase your mixer speed for your egg whites if they're not ready.

Keep an eye on the egg whites and syrup - once the egg whites reach medium peaks and your sugar syrup is at 240 - 245, pour the sugar syrup into the mixer with it running on high in a slow steady stream. Once its all together, continue running your mixer on medium-high for around 10 minutes. It should be thick and glossy, and after 10 minutes fairly cool.

Switch to a paddle attachment, and then with the mixer running add your butter in a tablespoon or so at a time, every 5 or so seconds.

Continue beating once incorporated until light and fluffy. You may find the mixture curdles a little, but just keep going it will smooth out in a couple of minutes. (If you find it has split and looks curdled - your butter may have been too warm to emulsify with the mixture, pop 1/4 of the mix in the microwave for 15 seconds and pour it back in slowly while beating).

If the mix is too runny, pop it in the fridge for 15 - 20 minutes and try whipping again.

Once the butter is incorporated, add your fruit mince and mix well.

Pair up your macaron shells so they are similar sizes. Place them upside down, and pipe fruit mince buttercream on half of the shells. Pair them up and press a little to join them.

Macarons are best served at room temperature, and they get so much better after a day or so because the shells absorb some of the buttercream. They can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, or months in the freezer. Just take them out and let them come to room temp before serving.

Mince Pie   Macarons