banoffee macarons

Makes 20

Chocolate Macarons shells
1 cup almond meal
1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder 
3 egg whites 
1 tablespoon caster sugar

Sift almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa into a mixing bowl.
Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form.
Sprinkle in caster sugar into egg whites, and beat until stiff peaks form.
Fold egg whites carefully into dry mixture.
Fill a piping bag with the macaron mixture, and pipe 4cm discs onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Lightly tap the underside of the baking tray to remove some of the air. 
Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celcius.
Allow to sit for approcimately 20 minutes, or until a “skin” forms on the top of the discs. 
Pop the baking tray into the oven and reduce heat to 130 degrees Celcius.
Bake for 17 – 20 minutes. Allow to cool before piping filling.

Banana caramel filling
1 ripe banana, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Combine all ingredients into a small saucepan and allow butter to melt.
Simmer gently, stirring to combine and to ensure that it does not burn.
Once the mixture turns a caramel-brown colour, remove from the heat.
Take the banana pieces, and place into a bowl. Roughly mash with a fork, adding more caramel from the pot if necessary.
Allow to cool before piping.

Vanilla buttercream (Swiss meringue method)
5 egg whites
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
680g butter, slightly softened
1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste

Combine egg whites and caster sugar in a heatproof bowl. Whisk over a simmering saucepan until all sugar has dissoved, and liquid reads 60 degrees Celcius on a candy themometer.
Pour hot egg whites into a room-temperature bowl and whisk at high speed until egg whites have thoroughly cooled, and you have stiff, glossy peaks.
Cut butter into small cubes – the butter should be slightly damp on the outside, but cool on the inside.
Slowly add butter to the meringue one cube at a time, while still whisking at medium-high speed.
Continue until all the butter has been added the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Don’t worry if it looks like it is curdling, continue mixing and it will come together. This may take some time depending on your mixer (10 – 15 minutes).
Stop the mixer and switch to the paddle attachment. Add vanilla paste and then start mixing starting from a slow speed and working up to the medium-high speed. This will remove any air pockets. Continue mixing for about 3 – 5 minutes.
Put aside, covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to pipe.

Assembly
Match macaron shells so that they are in pairs of approximately the same size.
Pipe a ring of buttercream onto half of the shells, just inside the border.
Add a dollop of banana caramel filling to the centre.
Bring the two halves of the macaron together. Press gently to avoid cracking the shells.
And voila, you’re done!

* Note – the buttercream mixture will make much more than you need to fill these macarons. It can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you want to re-use it, defrost completely, and then quickly beat again in your mixer for 3 – 5 minutes.

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