Tuesday, 18 November 2014

CWA cooking Champion!

Last night was the Cessnock Evening branch of the CWA's cookery Competition. For those who don't know, CWA stands for Country Women's Association, and I joined as a member last time they had this particular cookery comp. I'm always up for a bit of a challenge (and also don't like too much competition) so I tend to pick the fiddly hard to make things (depending on what sections are available. Last year I got 2nd at group level with my assorted sweets. So this year I looked at the Schedule and scrolled through the sections, and decided on the Macarons.

I have never made a Macaron before. I've only eaten one before (aboard the Carnival Spirit) and I found it pretty tasteless. So I didn't really have a clue what I was doing, or what the final product what supposed to taste like. But I followed the recipe, and managed to make, what at least looked like a macaron.

The recipe called for the use of a food processor, which I do not have. I called my Grandma to see if she had one I could borrow, and she said to try using a coffee grinder. I would never have thought of that, but it worked a treat, even if it was a bit small. Then I simply put it through a sieve, and got rid of any pieces that were too big.

First 2 trays out of the oven

Completed Chocolate Macarons

Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the other flavours or the rest of the process. But the Chocolate ones were probably the prettiest anyway.

I had a couple of issues along the way, and here is what I learned. 

Number 1: Do space them out on the tray as much as the recipe says. I overcrowded the first batch of strawberry (as it was late and I wanted to have to do fewer trays full) and they just did not cook through. Even ones that were over cooked on top, collapsed underneath.

Number 2: Although this recipe calls for you to let them sit for half an hour before baking, if you can leave them longer, it will help. A few sites I looked at suggested leaving them for 2-3 hours, I didn't leave them that long. Also don't preheat your oven before you begin making them, wait til 10-20 mins before you bake them or you'll be wasting a lot of electricity/gas.

Number 3: Don't always trust internet recipes, lol. I searched online for ganache recipes, and every site I went on said for a macaron filling, use chocolate and cream in a ratio of 1:1. So that's what I did. But even after refrigerating, it would not set! So then I googled "why wont my ganache set" which gave me a few forums and discussions where people were saying it was better to use a ratio of 3:1! Argh! Luckily I had enough chocolate left to be able to salvage it, but not before making a huge mess with runny ganache and macarons that kept sliding apart.

Watching the Cake Judging. There's me in my new Swirl Dress (photo stolen from Daisy Chatto)

My Award!

While I wasn't entirely sure I had made them correctly, the Judge said they were perfect, and when I shared some around with the rest of my fellow CWA members, the consensus was they were pretty good. I have to Admit, I was actually the one one who entered this Section, but that doesn't mean I got an automatic First Place. The Judge still has to deem the entry worthy of going to the next level of the competition.

I will definitely work better on my sizing for the group level (which I think will be around March next year) as I feel that was the only thing I hadn't quite gotten right. The Strawberry ones were too big and the Pistachio ones too small

In Case the CWA site changes and I lose the recipe (which will happen when they release the schedule for next year) I'm going to post the recipe below.


Macaron Recipe—Section 4
Recipes supplied here must be used for competiton
Chocolate Macarons recipe
1 cup/160 g pure icing sugar
½ cup/ 60g almond meal
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
2 eggs whites, room temperature
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Pre heat oven to 150C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and draw 3cm circles approx 3cm apart.
Turn the paper over so that the pencil marks won’t blemish the bottoms of macarons
Process the icing sugar, almond meal and cocoa powder in a food processor until fine.
Sift mixture through a fine wire sieve into a large bowl.
Beat egg whites with electric mixer to soft peaks form.
Beat in the caster sugar until thick and glossy.
Fold egg whites into the almond, mix until thoroughly combined.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.
Pipe approx 30 discs onto the marked circles and then drop the tray a couple of times onto the kitchen bench. This will shape the macarons and permit them rise uniformly onto a "little foot".
Set aside for 30 minutes or until a skin forms on top.
Bake for 20 minutes until just crisp set aside and cool.
Fill with chocolate ganache.
Pistachio Macarons recipe
125g pistachios
1 ¼ cup/ 190g pure icing sugar
These two ingredients are processed together
2 egg whites at room temperature
¼ cup/30g caster sugar
Few drops of green food colouring
Then use the same method for chocolate macarons minus almond meal and cocoa powder.
When cool fill with white chocolate ganache
Strawberry Macaron recipe (Pink Macarons)
1 cup/ 160g pure icing sugar
½ cup/ 60g plus 2 tablespoons Almond meal
These 2 ingredients are processed together
2 egg whites at room temperature
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Few drops strawberry essence for pale pink colour
Then use the same method for chocolate macarons minus cocoa powder
When cool fill with white chocolate ganache

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