Monday, April 16, 2012

Heart Polka Dot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupcakes

Heart Polkadot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupcakes
I was feeling a little selfish when I decided to make these. I was meant to be baking up something sweet to bring along to a BBQ, but I used it as an excuse to practice piping my heart-shaped macarons (which I have made twice before) before the wedding, plus I felt like making something pretty rather than coming up with some crazy flavour combination. Early in the morning I was determined to make some brightly coloured cupcakes with heart macarons on top. Three hours later, and two inedible batches of hideous failcakes in the bin and I was about ready to tear my hair out. Maybe it was the curse of Friday the 13th, even the simplest things were going wrong.
Heart Polkadot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupcakes
When I'm having a seriously bad day in the kitchen the best thing for me to do is to put my feet up and try again another day. But my stubbornness prevailed and I pushed on, falling back to my foolproof cupcake recipe, which is so easy and never lets me down. At the last minute I decided to throw in 2 punnets of blueberries instead of 1, which ended up being wayyyy too much fruit for the batter. But it still tasted pretty good. Simple, but classic.
Heart Polkadot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupcakes
I made the macarons in a bright teal shade, I love teal. In a random spasm of sprinkle-loving insanity, I grabbed some white heart-shaped sprinkles and dotted them over the surface of the macarons. I wish I had the regular round confetti sprinkles but the heart ones were kinda adorable too. It's probably an unnecessary embellishment, but it's damn cute. It was comforting that my macarons turned out well, considering all the issues I had with my over-complicated cupcakes. Obviously it's just better to keep things simple sometimes so I went with a old-faithful icing flavour; vanilla bean.
Heart Polkadot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupcakes
I whipped up the icing with a ton of vanilla bean, I just love the way the little black dots are speckled throughout the fluffy icing. I also added some natural pink food colouring to the icing to give it a light pink tinge as I was inspired by the pink & teal colour combination of this beautiful cake by Sweetapolita. I'm a little bit in love with how dainty and girly the whole thing looks. These cupcakes and macarons are nothing particularly original or different but it looks and tastes fantastic.
Heart Polkadot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupcakes
Heart Polka Dot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupcakes
(makes 12 cupcakes, plus a few extra macarons)
For the macarons: (if you are a beginner with macarons, read up and practice plain macarons first. BraveTart has lots of useful advice and info on the subject)
100g aged egg whites (you can use fresh eggs too, just make sure they are room temperature. I always use fresh these days, and zap it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds)
110g almond meal, at room temperature and well sifted
200g icing/confectioner's sugar
50g caster/superfine sugar
Optional: 1 tsp powdered egg whites (available from The Essential Ingredient), helps to stabilise egg whites but is not necessary
To decorate: blue/green food colouring (powdered or gel), white sprinkles

For the cupcakes:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange or mandarin juice
2 eggs
125g (1 stick plus about 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
155g (3/4 cup) sugar
225g (about 1 + 3/4 cups) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 punnet (150g) fresh or frozen blueberries

For the vanilla bean icing:
250g unsalted butter
575g (about 4.5 cups) icing sugar , sifted
1/4 cup milk
1 vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped and pod discarded (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract)
(I also added a few drops of natural pink food colouring for decoration)

Prepare the macarons first; line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in food processor and pulse for a minute to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse for about 30 seconds to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and egg white powder in a medium mixing bowl until the egg white powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks. (You can add the blue/green food colouring to the meringue as you are beating it to stiff peaks, it makes it easier to adjust how much colouring to add. Otherwise add it in the next step.)

Add meringue to your dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white (you really want to beat all the large bubbles out of the mixture, be rough!), then mix carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place mixture in a piping bag with a 1cm round piping tip. Pipe heart shapes using a 1cm piping tip and piping fat 'V' shapes (see end of this post for a video example). Tap baking sheets carefully and firmly on the benchtop a couple times to remove any large bubbles. If you wish, you can decorate the shells with sprinkles to create a polka dot effect, I used the softer (not nonpareils) heart-shaped sprinkles.

Leave to dry for about an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently it does not break. This will help prevent any cracking and help the feet to form on the macs. These macarons seem to need a longer drying time than regular round ones as they are prone to cracking. Preheat your oven to 140-150°C (285-300°F), depending on your oven. Place on top of an overturned roasting tray or another baking sheet if your sheets are not professional grade, for better heat distribution. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Carefully test if the base of the shell is ready by gently lifting one and if it's still soft and sticking to the baking paper, then it needs to bake for a few minutes longer. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes, then gently remove from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Heart Polkadot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupcakes
Make the cupcakes; Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until smooth, then add juice, eggs, flour and vanilla and pulse until just smooth. (If you don't have a processor, cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer at high speed, beat in eggs one at a time and then fold juice, flour and blueberries into the mixture until smooth.) Fold in blueberries with a spatula and then spoon into a 12-hole cupcake tray lined with papers. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cupcakes are golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean (ignoring blueberry juice). Remove from the oven and cool in tin for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the icing; remove the butter from the fridge 30 minutes before starting. Place in a large mixing bowl and beat at high speed, gradually adding icing sugar (and adding the milk and vanilla about halfway through) and beating until light and fluffy. Place in a piping bag, pipe on top of cupcakes and sandwich between macarons. Place macarons on top of cupcakes and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight in an airtight container. Remove from the fridge and allow to come back to room temperature before serving. Can be stored in the fridge for several days.
Heart Polkadot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupcakes
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57 comments:

  1. Another epic post!!! Everything looks soooo pretty especially the macs!

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  2. Macaroni on a cupcake! I like! They are really pretty!

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  3. You really are the macaron MASTER ;) This is beautiful, like everything you do!

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  4. Your macarons are always amazing Steph! I always get cravings when I see them :D

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  5. Wow, these just look like heaven! Bookmarking this page, I would love to try these some time!

    Kate {Something Fabulous}
    http://thesomethingfabulous.blogspot.com

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  6. Aww they are absolutely adorable steph! I love the blue and white look. And how can you not be happy with a macaron on top of a cupcake? GORGEOUS!

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  7. This is just beautiful. I love the colors.

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  8. these are just incredible...

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  9. Beautiful! You are just amazing!

    Natalie

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  10. ooh the pink and teal colour combination is so pretty! I love the white sprinkles, they make the heart macarons look even cuter.

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  11. Awesome! Just discovered your blog and loving everything you bake! YUM!

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  12. Those heart macs are SO adorable!!! Thanks for all of your mac tips too. I've only tried making them once, and quite a lot of them cracked, so I'll be sure to read up on your tips for next time.

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  13. Stunning and oh, so cute! What a taste treat!

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  14. Hello..They look gorgeous and lovely..I want too eat them..I will try them..Nice to meet you..

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  15. They are soo cute, are you making the heart macarons for your wedding?! please show us pics when the time comes =D

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  16. I absolutely love the blue macarons!

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  17. Beautifully done! I've been having a very similar time in the kitchen, lately - everything going wrong, even the simple things. It's really getting me down. But, as you say, the best thing is to relax, breathe, and try again. This definitely has inspired me to get back at it! :)

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  18. It's been said above, but you really are the macaron queen! Sometimes the simplest cupcake recipes are best, then you can go to town on the decoration :-)

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  19. Your bad days in the kitchen are like most peoples good days on steroids. These are too beautiful

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  20. You know what?! These would make the perfect valentines day pressie! I will attempt it one day! But of course, it would never compare to your amazing creations.

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  21. Incredible! And I like that's almost the same shade as the Tiffany teal..? heehee...

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  22. Really beautiful pics! Dainty is exactly the word.

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  23. I think the combination of blueberries and vanilla bean into a cupcake sounds absolutely delicious! Not to mention that the macarons you've made to top off the cupcakes look lovely too (pink and aqua is one of my favorite color combinations!). Love this post!

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  24. The cute factor of your heart Macarons, topping the shimmering pale pink icing is irresistible!

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  25. Oh the cupcakes came out pretty. You make the prettiest Macarons. I do wish I had a little of your talent. Thank you for sharing.

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  26. Those macarons are the absolute cutest ever! And they look great on those cupcakes - yum! :)

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  27. I cannot get over your blog. One of my all-time favorites and I get so excited when you update. Thank you for such beautiful creations and photographs! xx

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  28. Beautiful macarons, beautiful cupcakes.
    Congratulations!
    Marialuisa, from the north of Spain
    Love

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  29. Those macs and cupcakes are so cute!! Gorgeous photos!!

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  30. Love the delicate pastel shades...Pretty treats!

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  31. Oh my those macarons are gorgeous! Love love love the colour too!

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  32. Super girly and reminds me of wedding invites, actually!

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  33. Jeez louise! These are absolutely stunning! I do feel a little better that even amazing bakers like you have failcake days as well :)

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  34. What a lovely blog, with all the things I like! I found you via Sweet Eat and I am now following you, can I pin some of your photos?

    Let me know, you can find me here
    http://alessandrazecchini.blogspot.co.nz/

    ciao
    Alessandra

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    1. Of course! There's a 'Pin it' button on the bottom of each post page (before the comments) to help make pinning quicker :)

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  35. Please bake a nutella cake :D

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  36. what is the original recipe that you started with, you mention going back to your basic vanilla recipe....i really need a good vanilla cake recipe by this Thursday so if you could get back to me as soon as you could that would be great! :)

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    1. I linked to it in my post, it's my foolproof cupcake recipe http://www.raspberricupcakes.com/2009/04/foolproof-cupcake-recipe.html

      If you are looking for a basic cake recipe, try this one http://www.raspberricupcakes.com/2011/11/purple-ombre-sprinkle-cake.html without the food colouring.

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  37. wow...this looks so darn cute. i'm so mindblown! LOL.

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  38. I've been following your blog for a while, and I am a massive fan! I've always been too nervous to try making macaroons but seeing you use them as a decoration made me realise I should give it a try! I mentioned you in my post about it if you fancy taking a look. http://bloggerbearshares.blogspot.co.uk/
    I love your blog so much- you're an inspiration!

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    1. WOW! That is totally awesome for your first try at macarons! You should be incredibly chuffed, my first few batches of macarons were no where near as pretty! So glad I could help inspire you a little bit :)

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  39. amazing macaron!! macarons are my nightmare, i'm tring to find courage for bake it, yours are wonderfull!!

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  40. Nice! :)

    my macarons always came out a bit brown on top after baking even though I lower the temperature to 130 deg celsious! :( I just don't know what is the problem. :(

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  41. These made my jaw droppped! Super duper cute and yummylicious!

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