The first season of MasterChef Australia was one of the most watched television series of 2009 and dominated the national ratings with an average of just over 2 million viewers tuning in to every episode. It therefore comes as no surprise that the show has since become a highly influential force within the food industry and now manufactures many of its associated products. With its own string of recipe books and kitchenware range, the MasterChef brand now rivals with the likes of Jamie Oliver and Donna Hay, and the celebrity chefs that appeared on the show have also gained mass appeal as a direct result.
One such celebrity chef that has now become a household name is Adriano Zumbo, the pastry chef that captured the nation with his impossible Croquembouche and Macaron Tower challenges on the show.
When you walk into Zumbo's dessert train restaurant underneath the Star Casino in Sydney, you can only wonder how anyone would be able to think up the desserts he has on offer (let alone make them)...and yet with Zumbo's new range of dessert pre-mixes, it seems there's new hope for those of us who are severely challenged in the kitchen.
I bought my Adriano Zumbo Passionfruit Macaron mix from Woolworths for $8.47 (which is only slightly more expensive than the Donna Hay mix – which is as far as I know the only other macaron pre-mix that is available). Unlike the Donna Hay mix however, the box contained a packet of pre-made filling for the middle of the macaron sandwiches, rather than just the raw ingredients. It also contained two piping bags and a stencil that can be used to determine how far apart each piping of the macaron mix should be. Whether you're prepared to pay the $2 extra for these or not, for someone who doesn't own a piping kit at home and who has no hope of making neat (or even slightly circular) macarons without one, I found the extras in the Zumbo mix extremely helpful.
For those of you who are visual learners, the Zumbo macaron mix is also the way to go, because the recipe is easy to follow, aesthetically interesting and also includes small diagrams. The Donna Hay box is however only text based.
I also found that the Adriano Zumbo packet mix produced lighter and smoother macarons than the Donna Hay mix, which were considerably lumpier and thicker. The Donna Hay macarons were however closer to being meringues than biscuits, which may account of the difference in texture.
You can also get salted caramel flavoured mixes in the Zumbo range as well, along with chocolate cake and chocolate brownie mixes. Donna Hay only offers the vanilla and dark chocolate flavoured macaron mix, but she also offers a flourless chocolate truffle cake mix and two different types of chocolate brownie mixes also.
In short, with macarons selling for $3.00 each in most coffee shops, bakeries and specialty stores, you can't go wrong with buying a pre-mix macaron mix from either Donna Hay or Adriano Zumbo. While a box will set you back $8 and potentially make around 16 macaron sandwiches; it would cost you $48 to buy them pre-made. Plus it's much more of an accomplishment if you make them yourself!