Popcorn Macarons

I don’t like popcorn. People look at me weirdly when I say that, because how could you not like popped corn kernels doused in butter? But seriously, I just think that popcorn doesn’t really have much flavour apart from salt, and it gets stuck in your teeth, and it’s kind of just like eating air. Salty air.

When I was contacted by Planet Popcorn, a Taiwanese handmade popcorn chain, who offered to send me some popcorn samples, I was all ready to politely decline, but then I saw the flavours. Double Chocolate. Basil Chicken. CORN SOUP. I was officially intrigued and happily accepted the samples. This was a good thing, because this popcorn was pretty awesome – especially the savoury flavours. The basil chicken was peppery and slightly spicy, and the corn soup tastes exactly like the hot corn soup you get out of vending machines in Japan.

Even the original flavour was good, with a very light, sweet coating around each buttery popped corn kernel, ensuring that each piece of popcorn stays crunchy. I thought that the sweet and salty flavour was perfect to go in a popcorn-based dessert, so I decided to make these awesome popcorn macarons.

I realised I hadn’t made macarons in a couple of years, and I could definitely tell I was out of practice. It didn’t help that this was the first time baking macarons in my current oven, so despite using the same recipe that I’ve used numerous times before, the temperature was a bit off and they nearly failed on me.

So even though they weren’t my best work, they still turned out pretty tasty with a gooey caramel filling and bits of crunchy popcorn sprinkled on top. The other popcorn flavours were devoured pretty quickly by everyone, with the crowd favourites being the corn soup, basil chicken, coffee and original flavours. If you want to try some of Planet Popcorn’s popcorn, head over to Westfield Hurstville between 13th-17th April to the new Planet Popcorn store where there will be giveaways, prizes and other launch offers. Don’t forget to pick up a packet of corn soup flavoured popcorn too!

Popcorn Macarons

For the macarons
100g egg whites (about 3), aged
125g almond meal
150g pure icing sugar
100g caster sugar
about a handful of popcorn, crushed

For the salted caramel
200g caster sugar
100g butter
80ml thickened cream
Pinch of salt, to taste

1. Age your egg whites by leaving them out at room temperature for 24-48 hours, or for 3-5 days in the fridge. Process almond meal and icing sugar in a food processor and sift into a bowl. Process any remaining lumps again and sift again – discard any bits that do not fit through the sieve.

2. Beat egg whites until soft peaks, then gradually add the caster sugar whilst beating until stiff peaks form. Add the dry ingredients in two additions and mix quickly with a spatula a few times to get rid of any large air bubbles. Once the ingredients are starting to incorporate, slow down and fold the mixture until it flows like magma and falls in ribbons from the spatula.

3. Pipe 2.5cm circles onto sheets lined with baking paper. Confidently rap the baking sheet onto the counter top to allow bubbles to come to the surface, pop these with a toothpick. Leave the shells out to dry for 30 minutes to an hour to allow a skin to develop on top – when you can touch the surface without any mixture sticking to your finger, they are ready. Sprinkle the crushed popcorn on the macarons to decorate.

3. Preheat the oven to 140ºC. If you have thin baking sheets, place an overturned baking tray into the oven while it is preheating. When the macarons are ready, place the baking sheet on top of the overturned baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven. The macarons are usually ready when they peel back from the baking paper easily. When they have finished baking, carefully peel the macarons from the baking paper and place onto a wire rack to cool.

4. To make the salted caramel: Place sugar in a saucepan over low heat and whisk until the sugar is completed melted. Stop whisking and allow the sugar to caramelise and turn a dark golden brown, swirling the saucepan occasionally to mix. Remove from heat and add the butter, continuously whisking until combined. Add in the cream and whisk until combined. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and refrigerate until the caramel takes on a spreadable consistency.

5. Spoon or pipe the caramel onto half the shells and place another shell on top. Gently press downwards and twist the two shells in opposite directions to get an even spread of the caramel around the macaron. Store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight so the macarons can mature. Return to room temperature before serving.

Penguin says Feed Me was provided popcorn samples courtesy of Planet Popcorn Australia.

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