Donna Hay’s Almond Macaron with Chocolate Filling

My first reaction when I spotted the box mix at the supermarket was “oh, finally it becomes easy”. Having struggled making macarons before, I decided to give this one a go but was in two minds on whether it would taste like the real thing.  It is a packet mix after all.  Having tried it now, I would say yes, yes it tastes delicious and in my opinion, tastes similar to what you’d get at a good patisserie.

I’m not sure how long these have been on the market as I only saw them recently at Coles ($7.99).  So much cheaper than buying one at a patisserie for about $2.50 – $2.90 each.  This mix can make 24 biscuits (12 macarons) so it will save you money and time.  Perfect for the home baker (and impatient baker like me) and macaron lover.  I know that this is still a packet mix but since they are macarons you’re making, there’s still a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when they’re prepared, baked and eaten.

The box contains egg mix, almond mix and chocolate pieces.  You’ll still need to buy cream to make the chocolate filling.  You can make the chocolate ganache filling first or do it later.  I did it later as I was afraid it would become hard and not spreadable.

To make the macarons, first pre-heat the oven to 160°C.  I found this a little too hot as some macaron recipe books will tell you to bake them at 130°C – 150°C.  The instruction doesn’t tell you to lower the heat at anytime.  If you feel it’s too hot, lower it just before you place the macarons in the oven.  I followed instructions but found some of the biscuits did burn a light golden brown on top.  So lesson learnt here, stick to your gut feeling and lower the heat.

Place the egg mix in a bowl with a 1/4 cup of warm water.  Mix well with a fork and stand for 4 minutes.  It doesn’t look very pretty at this stage.  Once 4 minutes is up, using an electric mixer, beat the egg mix on high-speed for 4-5 minutes or until it becomes thick and glossy.  I think this method also depends on your electric mixer.  Do mix it as per instructions, but if you find it’s not thick and glossy enough, mix it just a little more.

Once all the egg mixing is done, sift through the almond mix into the egg mixture and gently fold it with a teaspoon of cold water.  I guess this would be the part that makes first time macaron makers very nervous.  You don’t get the right mix and consistency then you’ll end up with a deformed macaron.  I found my mix a little thick and just hoped that luck was on my side and that my macarons will look as pretty as the ones on the box.

If you have a piping bag, I suggest to use it so that you end up with perfect round macarons.  The instructions however, tells us to drop 1 tablespoon of the mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper.  I found this quite tricky since my mix was thick and sticky but unfortunately I  had to stick with the spoon since I ran out of piping bags.  Some macarons were round, some were just another shape, definitely not round.  To save myself the embarrassment and to cover up the “non roundness” of my macarons, I dusted it with cocoa powder just like the “try this” part on the back of the box, right below the instructions.

Let the macarons stand for 10 minutes and bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes and with much anticipation and delight, watch them slowly rise and watch the feet grow!

Once baked, leave to cool completely and as you can see, there was one particular macaron that had a huge, huge swelling.  Not sure exactly  how that happened.

Whilst macarons are cooling down, make the chocolate ganache filling.  This is just a matter of placing the chocolate pieces and 2 tablespoons of cream in a saucepan on a medium heat .  Stir until smooth and creamy. Take off from heat and leave to cool until spreadable.

Once the macaron biscuits have completely cooled off, remove gently from the baking paper and spread the base with the chocolate ganache and sandwich together with another biscuit.

Voila! Ah, so pretty!  And to think I made this with the help and creativity of Donna Hay.

My verdict: Well, I don’t really like saying anything negative about the places I’ve dined at or different types of desserts and dishes I’ve tried from others, but this, well I can say it’s really YUM!  It’s chewy, moist and just the right amount of sweetness.  The chocolate ganache is perfect, not too bitter, not too sweet.

If you’ve struggled to make macarons before or  just really can’t be fussed with all the weighing and measuring from making macarons from scratch, give this a go, you may have the same experience I did.  As the description on the box writes “…the best quality ingredients have been measured and weighed for you, so it’s just like baking from scratch, only easier…

I surely will try this again although the appearance wasn’t quite there, the flavour was there.  I’m more than happy to have this and make it time and time again and will even add my own twist to it with different colours and flavours.  I’m already thinking about making green and red ones for Christmas.


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