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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Evoke your senses with Orange Blossom Macarons

One of my favourite passtime is browsing green grocer, deli and grocery store. I enjoy browsing through aisles and aisles of foods to get some inspirations for new macaron concoctions and new bread flavours.

I came across orange blossom water during my browsing routine at Thomas Dux, a green grocer and thought that it could be a good flavour for macarons. I never cooked/baked with orange blossom water before but my past experience with rosewater and lavender assured me that it would have worked well.

Orange blossom water is distilled water with essential oil of orange blossom. It has a strong, sweet and rich citrus aroma and is used extensively in middle east cooking. When I first opened the bottle, the sweet aroma just literally made me smile. It’s a unique scent that I have never encountered anything like it before. It felt like I was being transported into a beautiful garden in the middle of spring. It smells just beautiful.

I mixed orange blossom water through the white chocolate ganache to get orange blossom filling for macarons. The orange blossom macaron didn’t disappoint. It delivered the sweet aroma and distinctive flavour. It is the sort of flavour that made me smiling and thought “wow” to myself when I first bit into it. It totally evokes my senses of smell and taste. Now, I have so many orange blossom recipes in my mind that I wish to try, orange blossom pannacotta, orange blossom crème brulèe, or even orange blossom chocolate tart…the list is endless.

This batch was also for S’ workmate who was leaving weeks ago. I love making macarons for gifts and would jump to any opportunities to make it. It’s the joy of making and sharing these little beauties.

I also mixed the orange blossom macarons with jaffa macarons for the gift

Orange blossom macaron recipe

make about 25 3-cm macarons 

you can also visit my Basic Macaron Recipe blog and I heart Macarons  for more details about the making of macarons

Macaron shell ingredients
100 g egg white (about 3 extra large eggs, aged 24- 48 hrs in advance. Take egg white out of the fridge a couple of hours before making to bring it to room temperature)
110 g almond meal (almond powder, ground almond)
160 g pure icing sugar (powder sugar)
60 g caster sugar (fine sugar)
a pinch of red and yellow colouring powder or liquid

Orange blossom ganache ingredients (macarons filling)
100 g white baking chocolate, cut into small pieces
80 ml thickened cream (whipping cream)
20 g butter, cut into cubes
1 – 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
few drops of red and yellow colouring liquid or pinch of colouring powder

Making macaron shells

1.      Sifting almond meal and icing sugar together by pushing them through a sieve. You can also grind almond meal and icing sugar together in a food processor to have finer almond meal mixture and it will be easier for sifting. However, this is not necessary.

2.      If using colouring powder, mix it with caster sugar in a small bowl until you achieve the desired colour (note that the colour need to be much more intense than the desired end-result as the colour will fade once mixed with egg white and other dry ingredients)

3.      Using electric mixer, beat egg white on a high speed until foamy, gradually add caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating the egg white until it reaches a glossy stiff peak. If using colouring liquid, put about 10 drops of red and yellow into the egg white mixture and mix on a low speed until well-combined.

4.      Mix egg white into almond meal mixture. Stir quite vigourously to break the egg white into dry ingredients for the first ten stokes or so. Continue to mix the egg white with dry ingredients until well combined (try the motion of lift, fold and push the mixture to the side of mixing bowl). The mixture should be thick, glossy and well-blended. The batter will look like a very thick cake batter.

5.      Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1-cm plain nozzle (size #11).

6.      Pipe mixture onto a tray lined with parchment paper or non-stick baking mat (Silpat) about one-inch in diameter and one inch apart.

7.      Tap trays on a kitchen bench a few times to flatten the piped macarons and remove the air bubbles.

8.      Leave the piped shell uncovered at room temperature for 30-60 mins until you can touch the shell without them sticking to your fingers.

9.      Preheat the oven to 160c/180c (convection/conventional) about 15 mins before baking.

10. Reduce the temperature to 140c/160c (convection/conventional) and bake macarons for about 13-15 mins. Baking time will depend on the macaron size.

11. Remove baking trays from oven. Remove macarons from the tray and put them on cooling racks. You may need a serrated knife to help removing macarons. Spraying a little water onto the hot tray underneath the paper also help releasing macarons (the steam gives that magic releasing power). 

12. Once they're completely cool, sandwich two shells together with chocolate ganache. Keep the macarons in a covered container in the fridge. They can be kept upto 5 days (or longer). Macarons taste better after they have been chilled for at least 12 hours. Filled macarons can also be frozen.

Making orange blossom chocolate ganache

1.      Put chocolate pieces in a seperate bowl.

2.      Heat thickened cream in a small pan over medium heat. When it comes to the boil, remove it from heat and pour over chocolate pieces. Let it sit for about 10 seconds, then stir the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted. Scatter the butter pieces and stir until it's melted.

3.      Mix orange blossom water in and mix until well-combined. It is suggested to start with one tablespoon and test as you go. Add more orange blossom water if you prefer a well-pronounced flavour. I like mine strong and ended up with two tablespoons.

4.      Chill the ganache until ready to use. It needs to be chilled at least an hour or more until it's firm enough for the filling.

Voila, fleur d'oranger macaron. Not quite Laduree, but quite lovely!

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