Preheat oven to 140C. Sieve almond meal and icing sugar into a large bowl, set aside. Combine caster sugar and 40ml water in a saucepan, stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook until mixture reaches 121C on a sugar thermometer (4-5 minutes). Meanwhile, whisk half the eggwhite in an electric mixer on medium speed, then, whisking continuously, gradually add syrup in two places to avoid syrup pooling in bottom of mixing bowl. Whisk until lukewarm (3-4 minutes), then add to almond meal mixture. Add remaining eggwhite and fold to combine.
Divide mixture between two bowls and add red food colouring to one bowl, folding to combine and colouring to your liking. Slap excess air out of white mixture with a spatula. Lay a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle on its side, fill one side with white mixture and the other side with red mixture. Pipe half the mixture into 8cm-long right-facing candy cane shapes on baking trays lined with baking paper. Pipe remaining mixture into 8cm-long left-facing candy cane shapes, firmly tap trays on work bench to expel excess air, then stand until a skin forms and mixture doesn’t stick to your finger when touched (45 minutes-1 hour). Bake in batches until firm and tops are set (10-12 minutes), then cool on trays.
Meanwhile, for candy cane ganache, place chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set aside. Cook candy canes without stirring in a small frying pan over medium-high heat until caramelised (4-5 minutes). Meanwhile, warm cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, add to candy canes, shake pan until combined (10-15 seconds). Add to chocolate with peppermint essence, stir to combine, then stir in butter. Stand until ganache reaches spreadable consistency (1-1¼ hours), spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 9mm plain nozzle and pipe on flat sides of right-facing candy cane macarons. Sandwich with left-facing candy cane macarons and stand until set (10-15 minutes). Candy cane macarons will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days but are best eaten on day of making.
This recipe is from the December 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine.
”Every Christmas, the one lolly that’s left in the house is candy canes. I was thinking about how to make them more interesting to eat, so I caramelised them and made them into ganache, and then the ganache became the filling for these macarons.”