Tuesday 6 September 2011

All Black Sesame Macarons with Coconut Buttercream for Baking for Hospice

Rugby is a wonderful show: dance, opera and, suddenly, the blood of a killing ~ Richard Burton

I'm baaaaaack! It was study break last week and I was up in Auckland spending lots of quality time with family.  A happy sad week, witnessing the beginning of a brand new life and the twilight of another.  Reliving old memories, making new ones.  Lots of laughs, lots of tears.  It might look like I abandoned the blog for a bit but I was baking up a storm so watch this space for all the baking shenanigans I got up to!

Well, if you're in New Zealand, unless you've been living under a rock, you will know that little old NZ is hosting the Rugby World Cup 2011.

It's kind of a big deal.

Rugby is our national sport.  Kiwis live and breathe rugby and the All Blacks are national heroes.  But despite the All Blacks being favourites to win practically every Rugby World Cup since it's inception, we unbelievably haven't won or hosted the prestigious Webb Ellis Trophy since the very first RWC in 1987.

But this year is THE year! I can feel it in my bones.

So naturally, to show our support for our men in All Black, the Baking for Hospice theme this round was The Rugby World Cup round.  And for my contribution I made All Black Sesame Macarons with Coconut Buttercream.

Go ABs!

{Paint the town black, all black}

Believe it or not I've only just realised the irony in me making French macarons to show my support for the All Blacks.

We have had a somewhat checkered rugby history with the Gallic side.  We beat them in the final to win the 1987 RWC (the only time we've won) but were knocked out of the 1999 and 2007 tournaments by the French team.  I can still remember being on my knees in front of the TV, head in my hands, fighting back tears, when we lost that 2007 quarter final.  The entire country went into mourning. I kid you not.

{Demonstrating my knowledge of rugby positions in macs thanks to coach C.}

Black sesame is a traditional Asian dessert flavouring and might not be something you've come across before.  It's a delicately nutty and sweet flavour that pairs really well with coconut and padan.  The sesame seeds need to be toasted before using them in baking, otherwise they tend to taste a little chalky.  Just cook them in a dry pan until you can smell the beautiful nutty aroma and grind in a spice grinder.

I added black food colouring to get a really intense black and white effect to mimic our AB's uniform but you can leave it out and get prettily speckled grey macs.  The black food colouring leaves you with a black tongue after you eat them, all the better to support the All Blacks with.  Plus no one will be able to tell if you burn them...bonus!

This was my second time making macs and I was really nervous that this time it might be flop.  Especially, since I was being filmed this time for a Baking for Hospice segment and as Andrew Mehrtens said of the French after the All Blacks lost in 1999 RWC, macarons are also predictably unpredictable.

Luckily, the mac gods were smiling on me. I managed to only botch up the first tray and got pretty feet on subsequent trays.  I am thinking the trick is to leave the macs to air for aaaages and form quite a firm skin before you bake them.

Let's hope the success of these macarons, and the Baking for Hospice round, is an omen from the rugby gods.

May RWC victory will be as sweet as macarons.

{Actually, they do look a little bit like tiddlywinks after all.  Just saying, Tana.}

All Black Sesame Macarons with Coconut Buttercream 

Black Sesame Macarons

3 egg whites (~100g)
50 g white sugar
200g icing sugar
70g ground almonds
40 g toasted and ground black sesame seeds

optional: black food colouring

1. Age the eggs whites on a sealed container in the fridge for 24 - 48 hours or heat in microwave on medium-low for 10 seconds to mimic aging process.

2. Toast around 50g black sesame seeds in a dry pan (no oil) stirring frequently until you can smell the nutty sesame aroma.  Grind the sesame seeds in a spice/coffee grinder.  Measure out 40g of ground toasted sesame seeds.

3. In food processor blend together the icing sugar, ground sesame seeds and ground almonds.

4. In a very clean bowl, beat the aged egg whites to soft floppy peaks.  Add sugar gradually beating continuously till glossy and shiny.  Add black food colouring to get a dark blackish hue.  I was in a hurry so tipped in around 2 Tbsp of colouring but I think I could definitely have used less.  What's more the macs are pretty enough without the colouring so feel free to omit.

3. Macaronage: Tip half the almond/icing sugar mixture into the egg whites.  Fold in gently for around 20 strokes.  Add the rest of the almond mixture and fold for another 20 strokes.  The mixture should ooze look like molten lava and it should take no more than around 50-55 folds in total.

4. Scoop mixture into a piping bag with a round nozzle and pipe on to lined cookie trays into roughly 1 inch circles.  Drop the trays on to the bench a couple of times to get the bubbles to come to the surface and pop them with a toothpick.  Leave the trays of piped cookies to air for 60-90 minutes for the shells to form skins (this is key to getting the highly sought after feet.)

5.  Bake at 150oC for 11-12 minutes (better to overcook than undercook).  Cool completely before piping buttercream and making into sandwiches.  Put into an airtight container in the fridge overnight to "mature" before eating.   It's supposed to improve the flavour and allow the macarons to absorb some moisture from the filling to get the perfect chewy texture.

Coconut Buttercream

3 cups icing sugar
225g unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch salt
1/4 c milk, room temperature
1 tsp coconut essence

1.  Cream butter till fluffy.  Add icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat to incorporate.  Add milk, salt and coconut essence and beat to mix through.  Add more milk or icing sugar to get the right consistency for piping.

2. Using a piping bag with a round nozzle, pipe on to the botton of one macaron then sandwich a second on top to squish the buttercream to the edges. 


  1. Nessie these are just gorgeous macarons with interesting, mouth watering flavors. Rugby never had a better fan for fure.

  2. Those macarons are too cute! Love the black sesame NZ photo too :-)

  3. Love this post, Nessie! Your pics are adorable too. And sesame + coconut sounds like a beautiful match of flavours. :)

  4. What a fantastic idea Nessie! They came out great, and I love the photo of the macs in rugby positions, brilliant!

  5. Love them! They look terrific, very patriotic :)

  6. Great to see RWC spin on macaroons. Not sure I fancy the black food colouring though!

  7. Look at you Macaroning over the kitchen. And uhmm... French recipe for the all Black, sneaky sneaky. Hahaha.
    It took me a couple of years of living in NZ to figure out when exactly did NZ won the cup, and then it took me a couple more to work out the logic of why do Kiwi love rugby despite the grimmed stats.
    You think we're gonna take the cup this time around? Certainly brings a lot of nail-biting pre-game hope, after the tri-Nation lost though...
    I will definitely come to the nearest Sport's bar in Seoul tomorrow to be the only all Black fan in the whole pub.

  8. Cool idea :-), and then I love black sesame seeds and I use them a lot, especially because I try not to use too much food colouring. In fact can I ask you how many drops of black did you need for your mixture?

    First time here and happy to have found your blog, I will put it in my blog roll for NZ blogs, if you don't mind.
    And of course I am following you, for me too baking + love :-).


    I have a give away on my blog now, a book with lots of baking :-)

  9. I'm totally awed by your photos. Your macarons are perfect, which of course helps, but the light in these is stunning, and your depth of field. Would you consider doing a post on your photo-shoot set up? I'd love to learn some tips, as would most readers no doubt!

  10. Can't believe I've neglected answering these lovely comments! Eek!

    Lora: I wasn't sure if the combo would work in a macaron but it totally does. Nothing like showing your devotion to a sport than making maracons I reckon :P

    Emma Galloway: Yay! So stoked someone recognised the blobs as NZ!!

    Mel: Thanks mel! Had heaps of fun writing the post! Sesame and coconut are such a natural combo in asian desserts I just had to try them out in a macaron!

    Christina: My husband drilled into me all the rugby positions during the world cup...what better way to learn them than with macarons though ay?

    jacksta: Thanks lovely!

    timeforalittlesomething: Thanks heaps Jem!

    Domestic Executive: Thanks for your comment! I'm not sure I'll add food colouring in next time...not a big fan of lots of colouring either! Au natural is the way to go yea?

    PFx: Pierre! Hope you managed to find a sports bar in Seoul! What a tournament! World champions buddy!!! wooop!!!

    Alessandra: Thanks so much for stopping by. I actually ended up tipping almost 2 tbsp of colouring into it to get the black colour...sooo soo much. Don't think I'm going to use as much next time (or even any!) not a huge fan of using so much colour... :) Am honoured to be on your blog roll thanks so much for adding me!!

    delacasa: Awww you are so so sweet! Am so totally flattered by your comment! I'm not sure I know enough about photos to do a whole post on them...literally have to take 100 to get a few good ones!! I'll see if I can put together one though so watch this space! Thanks again for your lovely comment, you've totally made my day :)



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