I've been hearing whispers about this thing called Buerre Noisette for a while now, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I'd heard from various sources that it tasted a bit nutty (hazelnuts to be precise, hence the name - noisette = hazelnut in French) so I thought it would be perfect to try out on a nut fanatic like my dad. And yes, just in case the unseasonal background for my macarons might tell you, they were a Christmas present. Apparently I didn't have the foresight to use a non-festive background even with the knowledge that I wouldn't be posting these until after the big day. If you want to see more unseasonably depicted Christmas presents, check out my mum's present, Über-Vanilla Biscuits.
So, what is Buerre Noisette? It actually doesn't contain nuts of any kind; it's just burnt butter. The idea is that you melt the butter and let it bubble away until it browns and the fat solids start to burn, giving it a nutty taste. Personally, I found it to taste more like fudge than nuts, but maybe that had something to do with the way the flavour combined with the other ingredients in the buttercream. Make it yourself, and let yourself be the judge! You don't have to put Buerre Noisette in buttercream; it can be used in anything you would ordinarily put butter in - even on your toast.
I used the recipe for Buerre Noisette by Emma at Poires Au Chocolat. There are lots of detailed instructions so you can be sure that you're not making any drastic errors. In truth, I think the main skill here, other than transferring butter to a pan, is knowing when to take the butter off the heat, so don't feel put off by the fancy name.
These macarons are plain except for a hint of nutmeg as I wanted the flavour from the Buerre Noisette buttercream to shine through. I use Bravetart's macaron recipe for tips and advice on how to make the perfect macaron, including how to stop them from cracking. It's written by someone who makes them every day so you know it'll be good advice!
For the macarons:
- 4 Egg Whites
- 75g Caster Sugar
- 230g Icing Sugar
- 115g Ground Almonds
- 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
For the Buerre Noisette French Buttercream:
- 300g Butter
- 12 Egg Yolks
- 90g Caster Sugar
- To make the buerre noisette, put the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Leave it to do its thing until the big bubbles on the surface turn into tiny bubbles and the melted butter has turned brown. Transfer into a container, leave to cool and then refrigerate until it has solidified.
- Preheat the oven to 145C/130C fan and line three baking trays with parchment paper. Use a 1.5in cookie cutter to trace circles about 1in apart on the sheets of baking parchment and turn over - you'll use these as a guide for piping the macarons.
- To make the macarons, put the egg whites and caster sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk on medium (on an electric whisk) for 3 minutes. Increase the speed setting to medium-high for another 3 minutes, then finally whisk on high for 3 minutes.
- Add the nutmeg, then whisk for another minute. The meringue should be so stiff that it gets trapped inside the whisk.
- Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar into the mixing bowl and fold in with a rubber spatula. After each fold, push down on the mixture as if you are trying to push the air out it (which, indeed, you are). Repeat until all of the ingredients are incorporated and, if you drop a bit of the mixture onto the top of the rest of it, it merges back into the mixture within 20 seconds. Make sure you also scrape around the bowl a lot to ensure that all of the meringue gets incorporated.
- Using a standard round nozzle, pipe the macaron mixture inside the guides you drew earlier. Don't go right to the edges as the macarons do expand a little in the oven.
- Rap each baking tray (complete with macarons) sharply on the work surface, then turn it 90 degrees and rap it again. This ensures that any air bubbles rise to the top.
- If you have a fan oven like me, it's a good idea to make sure your oven trays are either slightly above or slightly below the fan as this can cause the macarons to crack.
- Put the macarons in the oven for 25 mins, turning the baking tray around half way through. After this time, try peeling a macaron from the baking parchment by holding them perpendicular to the tray and holding the top of it. If the macaron does not come away cleanly, they are not done so put them back in the oven for another 3-6 minutes, or until they do come away from the parchment paper without leaving anything behind.
- Leave the macarons to cool on a rack.
- To make the buerre noisette French buttercream, put the yolks, and caster sugar in a bowl over a pan of hot water - make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
- Gently whisk the mixture until the sugar has dissolved (I usually let it get to a steaming point and then give it another couple of minutes before taking the mixture off the heat), then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk until it has doubled in size and has cooled to room temperature.
- Make sure the buerre noisette is room temperature and has been chopped into small, manageable chunks, then add it a piece at a time to the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. You may not need all of it - when the mixture has become stiff and holds its shape, you don't need to add any more.
- Spread a teaspoon of icing onto half of the macarons and sandwich them together with the other half.
I've got three exams left, and then on Friday I'll be celebrating by baking a cake. What else would I do? I'll see you then!