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Showing posts with label Macaron. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Macaron. Show all posts

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Little Diva (not me, it's Macaron) went to Bangkok!


I had an impromptu short trip to Bangkok last month. My sister had a promotional ticket through Royal Orchid Plus at a half price. I only bought ticket a month before the trip and stayed in Bangkok for few weeks (I also went to Macau and Hong Kong for five days during that time, which I’m hoping to write a post about it).

My family and friends in Bangkok regularly asked me to bring back me-made macarons. These little beauties are so tempting that they so want to try. Macaron fever is slowing catching on in Thailand. They are more likely to be found in luxury hotels’ and/or high-end bakeries/cafes.  I had some macarons from Plaza Athenee Hotel while I was there. Umm, let me say they were far, far from good.

Macarons from The Plaza Athenee

I had few weeks to make macarons before the trip. I made one batch (with one or two flavours) every week and freeze them (minus my and S’ consumption). So, I ended up with six flavours to take back to Bangkok; chocolate peanut butter, cumquat, green tea, cherry, lemon and raspberry macarons.

Macarons freeze well. There are little, if any, degradations provided that they are defrosted properly. Some macaron flavours/fillings also freeze better than others (chocolate ganache and almond/nut butter in particular).

Yes, in general, they freeze well. However, in this case, I was taking them across two continents, travelled over 7,000 kilometres to get from Melbourne to Bangkok. They went across two climate zones with temperature fluctuations in between; from –18c in the freezer to 11c ambient temperature in Melbourne and to 32C (with high humidity) in Bangkok. Those poor macarons had been through a lot before they were presented to my family and friends. Anyhow, they still tasted great (though some of them were a bit soft and too moist as a result of condensation). They received lots of praises from the eaters. It was also wonderful to share these heavenly morsels with others.  

Note to self:
If I am to take macarons to travel long distance again, I would make ones with chocolate ganache or butter-based fillings. It would be less prone to condensation.

After the long trip, the little diva (mon macarons) needs a good rest in the freezer to firm up before consumption. The hot and humid weather in Bangkok did some damages to the little beauties.

All in all, it works quite well. Not that macarons enjoyed the long distance travel but they coped relatively well.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rosewater Buttercream Macaron - Dare I compare to Laduree?


Yes, I have a love affair with rosewater. I love it with dessert especially for meringue kind of dessert. It is also best with macarons. Rosewater flavour is one of S’ favourite. Delicate floral flavour goes well with delicate texture of macarons.

I made rosewater macaron before with rosewater flavoured white chocolate ganache which was aromatic and lovely. I had Rose Macaron from Laduree when I was in Tokyo last year and loved the flavor. Its filling was light and subtle, which, I think was made from egg white buttercream. I had never made buttercream using egg white before, the so called Italian buttercream, so I can only guess. The flavor of Laduree's was good and that was it. The shells were too dry, too chewy and there wasn't enough filling in there.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Toasted Coconut Pandan Macarons - tastes, smells and feels like home


Pandan is a prominent feature in Asian dessert, especially for Southeast Asia region where I came from. Its use is similar to vanilla to western cooking, to flavour dessert and cakes. It is also used with meat and rice dishes (the popular chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, and rice cooked with pandan as examples).

Pandan leaves (Bai-toey inThai) is an upright green plant with fan-shaped sprays of long, narrow, bladelike leaves (source: wikipedia.com). It has fragrant, sweet and mellow aroma and usually available frozen at Asian grocery stores (or fresh if you live in Southeast Asia).

Pandan and coconut are classic food pairing in Asian dessert (like vanilla and milk/cream in western cuisine). It is used in cake, pudding, jelly, and many more. I wanted to try making Asian inspired macaron. Umm, sort of east meets west. Pandan and coconut was the first flavour that came to my mind.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lemon Cheesecake Macarons



Winter is the time where we have more lemons than opportunities to use them. Our house is full with lemons collected from S’mom. She grew the juiciest lemon ever. We don’t know what kind of lemon it is. It has thin skin and full of juice, which makes them perfect for making lemon curd and baking.

I’m not complaining for having lots of lemons. You can never have too many, really. They are versatile in baking and cooking and we are fond of them. They are good with roasted chicken, pasta, custard flavouring, tarts, drinks and the list can go on and on. And if all else fails, we can always turn them into lemonade. 

Among our many favourite lemon dishes, lemon curd is on the very top. I love them as is, as tart filling, and of course, with macarons. It was one of the first macaron flavours I made and love. Not only its tartness and zing complement the sweet delicate macaron shell well, it is also a perfect way to use the leftover egg yolks.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pistachio Macarons with buttercream filling - très classique et en français



I have a relatively long list of macaron flavours I want to make. Pistachio is one of them, though not really on the top. However, I moved it up the list as S’boss (a French-Australian) requested for some.

Pistachio (Pistache) Macaron  is one of the classic French flavour. I remember seeing macaron packs at CostCo (imported from France) with presumably four classic flavours and pistache is one of the four. The rest of the flavours are vanilla, chocolate and raspberry.

I followed the pistachio butter cream recipe from Jose Marechal’s Secrets to Macarons. The filling was made of ground pistachio mixed with butter and sugar, which produced relatively dry filling. I also substituted part of almond meal with ground pistachio in the macaron shell.

The creamy, sweet and nutty aroma of ground pistachio was wonderful. It was even more so when the macarons were being baked. It filled my house with fantastic aroma.  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Passionfruit Macaron - when the love affair with macaron began...


Passionfruit macaron has a special place in my heart. It was the first macaron I tasted and fell in love at first bite and I still recall that moment vividly. It was from a French patisserie at The Rock, Sydney that I stumbled upon during my trip to Sydney couple of years ago. It was one of those magical experiences. The pretty little morsel that was so light and crisp. It melted in my mouth and release amazing flavour. It was like “wow, what is this stuff? Why haven’t I had them before? Where have I been?”.  It was also fortunate that the first macaron I had was a great macaron. Generally, I find commercial macaron in Australia to be average (to put it politely… as in many instances, they are simply mediocre).

In my opinion, passionfruit makes a fabulous dessert. It is good in cake, slice, mousse, panna cotta, to name a few. And Pavlova won’t be complete without passion fruit. And yes, it makes great macaron.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blueberry Cheesecake Macarons - two of the things I love in one bite



I love cheesecake or the cream cheese in particular. It used to be my dessert of choice. If I had to name my own poison, it was always the cheesecake on the top of my mind.

That was before I met the new love of my life, macaron. Don’t get me wrong, I still love cheesecake or cream cheese and its unique creamy and sour flavour combinations. Wouldn’t it be nice if I can combine my two greatest beloved food items into one? Cheesecake macarons sound like a fabulous idea, for me

Personally, I think cream cheese by itself is a little lacking, so a flavoured cheesecake macaron was in the agenda. When it comes to cheesecake, one flavour that comes to my mind is blueberry cheesecake. Blueberry cheesecake is (or was, I’m not sure given that I have left Thailand for over a decade now) a popular dessert in Thailand for both home-made and shop-bought. I suppose it is easy to make at home with limited equipment. It’s the kind of cheesecake that doesn’t require baking and most homes in Thailand don’t have ovens. And of course, it is popular because it tastes good.  

I recently bought a book called Flavour Thesaurus. It’s about flavour pairings. It’s an interesting book and makes me look at some of the ingredients differently and more creatively. What the book said about blueberry was that blueberry on its own was bland, sort of flavourless. However, when it paired with lemon, it created spectacular flavour. It is something never occurred to me before and it is so true. It also got me thinking that maybe this is why blueberry is so well-matched with cream cheese. It seems that blueberry needs acidity to help it shines.


I made the blueberry cream cheese filling as I would do with cheesecake filling, a mixture of whipped cream, cream cheese and blueberry jam (in this case a reduced blueberry cooked with sugar and lemon juice). To match the colour of blueberry, the shell needs to be purple, a challenging colour to mix for macaron shells. When I made the lavender macarons and wished to get pale purple colour, I ended up with blue (purple = red + blue). A word of caution, be easy with blue colouring, a little of it goes a long long way. It is a good idea to start with red colour first and gradually add small amount of blue at a time until you achieve the purple colour.

This flavour doesn’t disappoint. Almond meringue shell makes a perfect base for cheesecake filling. The moisture and tang of cheesecake filling works really well with the sweet macaron shell. It is one of my favourite macaron flavour, it’s no surprise there...it’s the two most-loved food items for me, cheesecake and macaron. Nothing can’t go wrong!

Here is the recipe….

Blueberry Cheesecake Macaron Recipe

Makes 25 3-cm macarons

More details on Basic Mararons using Italian Meringue techniques can be found here.

You can also see more detailed intructions on making macarons in my
Basic Macaron Recipe and I heart Macarons blogs (however, they are recipes using French meringue method. Most of the processes are similar between Italian’s and French’s. The only difference is the handling of sugar and egg white).

Macarons shell ingredients
125 g pure icing sugar
125 g almond meal (almond flour or ground almond)
100 g egg whites (separated 24 -48 hours in advance and is at room temperature)
125 g caster sugar (super fine sugar)
30 ml water (2 tablespoons)
red and blue or purple colouring powder or liquid

Blueberry Cheesecake filling
100 g Blueberry, fresh or frozen is fine
100 g cream cheese
100 g thickened cream (minimum 35% fat content)
50 g caster sugar (super fine sugar)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small sheet gelatine or half of big gelatine sheet
 
Making macarons shells
 
Sift almond meal and icing sugar together through fine sieve and set aside.

Divide egg whites into two equal portions (50 g each portion).  Put one egg white portion (50 g) into a bowl and mix in red and blue (or purple) colouring powder or liquid until you achieve the desired colour. Start with red colour first and gradually (seriously gradually) add blue colour into the mixture until you get an intense violet colour. The colour will be substantially diluted once it is mixed into the macaron batch.


Top: colour of the egg white. Bottom: how blue can really stick and stuck!

Pour the coloured egg white into the almond meal/icing sugar mixture.  Don’t mix or stir them, just leave it as is.

Put the water and caster sugar in a heavy-base saucepan over medium-high heat. When the syrup starts to boil. Place the rest of egg white (50 g) into a mixing bowl, using the whip attachment, whip egg white to the soft peak. When the syrup reaches 118°C (on a thermometer), take if off the heat and let it cool down to 115°C (or until the bubbles slightly subside).

While the mixer is still running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Be careful not to pour syrup onto the whip as it might spatter.

Continue mixing until the meringue cool down to slightly above body temperature (50°C) or when the side of the mixing bowl is just warm to touch. The whipped egg white will be (very) stiff and glossy.

Mix a third of whipped egg white into the almond meal mixture and combine them well. At this step, I work the mixture very vigorously to blend the egg white with almond meal mixture. Fold the rest of whipped egg white into the mixture and mix well, yet gently, until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thick. It resembles a very thick cake batter, or as many web sites describe it as a magma-like consistency (I believe it means the thick batter would flow slowly like a magma).

Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with 1-cm plain tip (size #11). Pipe the staggering rows of 1-inch rounds onto baking trays lined with parchment papers or baking sheets. You will need two trays for this recipe.



Let the piped shells stand at room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes to let the crust forms. This depends on the room temperature and humidity. When the piped shells are dry to touch without it sticking to your finger, they are good to go into the oven.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-forced or convection oven, increase the temperature by 20°C if you’re using conventional oven) for at least 15 minutes. Just before baking, turn the temperature down to 150°C and bake the macarons for 15 minutes.

Lift the baking papers/sheets off the baking tray to the cooling rack and let it completely cool down before removing macarons (it is easier to remove cool macarons off the sheet. They are also less likely to stick to the paper).



Sandwich cool macaron shell with chilled blueberry cheesecake filling.

Store macarons in airtight container in the fridge. Macarons will taste better after they are chilled overnight as the filling flavour will blend in and shells will be less dry.

Soak the gelatine sheet in cold water (make sure that all part of the sheet is hydrated).


Making  Blueberry Cheesecake Filling
Put blueberry, sugar and lemon juice in a small heavy-base saucepan over medium heat. Bring it the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine sheet and dissolve it in the blueberry mixture. Set aside.
Using electric mixer, whip the thickened cream to a whipped cream texture. Set aside in a bowl and chill until ready to use.

 

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy (using medium high speed for about few minutes). Pour cool blueberry mixture into the cream cheese and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in whipped cream and mix until well-incorporated.

Chill the filling about 30 minutes before using.

Two of my greatest love in one bite!
Submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Rachel from The Crispy Cook.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cherry Ripe Macarons - one tasty little morsel!



Cherry Ripeâ is one of my favourite chocolate. This chocolate could potentially be available only in Australian and New Zealand. I never came across this bar before until I came to Australia. It is made by Cadbury Chocolate and made of juicy cherry and coconut wrapped in dark chocolate.

I love creating macaron flavours. I think about macaron concoctions continuously, non-stop. One of the flavours that I like to think about is the replication of chocolate bar. Think about famous chocolate bars like Snickers (caramel, peanuts, chocolate), Toblerone (chocolate, almond, nougat), Mars (caramel, chocolate). There are reasons why they are so popular and classic hits. It’s because the combination of flavour works. It stands the test of time. Instead of inventing your own flavour and invest in the trial-and-errors of flavour combination. It’s a short-cut to borrow the idea from what is proof to be a successful concoction.

I got a bag of unopened organic desiccated coconut that was going to expire in a month. As I hate throwing away food, there’ll be more baking with coconut on the way.

I love opening a new packet of coconut. The aroma is sensational. It transports me back to the streets of Thailand. I can picture the street stalls selling sweets, puddings, or even grilled satay chicken. It smells deliciously sweet, creamy and toasty. It wows me every time.

To replicate Cherry Ripeâ flavour, there were three ingredients that came to my mind. As you might have guessed, they were coconut, cherry and dark chocolate, which I combined them into the macaron filling. I also added ground desiccated coconut into the macaron shell mixture as well (I grind them in a food processor). My house smelt fantastic when the macarons were being baked.

I took some of the macarons to work and my workmate named the flavour straight away that it was Cherry Ripeâ. Maybe she was good with the flavour or maybe it is an Aussie icon thing that people will be able to sense it from miles away. It also meant that my macaron turned out to be something I intended to. Quite happy with that!


Here is the recipe….

Cherry Ripe Macaron Recipe

Inspired by Cherry Ripeâ chocolate by Cadbury

Makes 25-28 3-cm macarons

More details on Basic Mararons using Italian Meringue techniques can be found here.

You can also see more detailed intructions on making macarons in my
Basic Macaron Recipe and I heart Macarons
 blogs (however, they are recipes using French meringue method. Most of the processes are similar between Italian’s and French’s. The only difference is the handling of sugar and egg white).

Macarons shell ingredients
125 g pure icing sugar
75 g almond meal (almond flour or ground almond)
50 g ground desiccated coconut (grind them in a food processor)
100 g egg whites (separated 24 -48 hours in advance and is at room temperature)
125 g caster sugar (super fine sugar)
30 ml water (2 tablespoons)
red colouring powder or liquid

Chocolate Cherry Ripe
â filling
70 g dark chocolate, chopped
100 ml thickened cream (minimum 35% fat content)
20 g butter
40 g desiccated coconut
60 g glace cherries
 
Making macarons shells
 
Grind desiccated coconut in food processor until finely ground.

Sift almond meal, ground desiccated coconut and icing sugar together through fine sieve and set aside.

Divide egg whites into two equal portions (50 g each portion).  Pour the first portion of egg white (50 g) and red colouring powder or liquid into the almond meal/icing sugar mixture.  Don’t mix or stir them, just leave it as is.

Put the water and caster sugar in a heavy-base saucepan over medium-high heat. When the syrup starts to boil. Place the rest of egg white (50 g) into a mixing bowl, using the whip attachment, whip egg white to the soft peak. When the syrup reaches 118°C (on a thermometer), take if off the heat and let it cool down to 115°C (or until the bubbles slightly subside).

While the mixer is still running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Be careful not to pour syrup onto the whip as it might spatter.

Continue mixing until the meringue cool down to slightly above body temperature (50°C) or when the side of the mixing bowl is warm to touch. The whipped egg white will be (very) stiff and glossy.

Mix a third of whipped egg white into the almond meal mixture and combine them well. At this step, I work the mixture very vigorously to blend the egg white with almond meal mixture. Fold the rest of whipped egg white into the mixture and mix well, yet gently, until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thick. It resembles a very thick cake batter, or as many web sites describe it as a magma-like consistency (I believe it means the thick batter would flow slowly like a magma).

Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with 1-cm plain tip (size #11). Pipe the staggering rows of 1-inch rounds onto baking papers or baking sheets. You will need two trays for this recipe.

Let the piped shells stand at room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes to let the crust forms. This depends on the room temperature and humidity. When the piped shells are dry to touch without it sticking to your fingers. They are good to go into the oven.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-forced or convection oven, increase the temperature by 20°C if you’re using conventional oven) for at least 15 minutes. Just before baking, turn the temperature down to 150°C and bake the macarons for 15 minutes.

Lift the baking papers/sheets off the baking tray to the cooling rack and let it completely cool down before removing macarons (it is easier to remove cool macarons off the sheet. They are also less likely to stick to the paper).

Sandwich cool macaron shell with chilled chocolate Cherry Ripe
â
filling.

Store macarons in a covered container in a fridge. Macarons will taste better after they are chilled overnight.


Making Chocolate Cherry Ripe
â Ganache




Grind glace cherry with desiccated coconut in a food processor, until roughly chopped. Set aside.


Put dark chocolate in a separate bowl.

Bring cream to the boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove it from heat as soon as it comes to the boil. 

Pour hot cream into chocolate. Leave it for about 10-20 seconds. Stir the chocolate and cream mixture until melted. Scatter butter pieces on the mixture and stir until well combined.

Mix in cherry and coconut mixture until all combined.

Chill the ganache at least an hour before using.
  


Friday, March 11, 2011

Black Sesame Seed Macaron - good for heart and soul


Part of the reasons I love making macarons is that its possibility for concoctions is endless. You can create flavours, colours, looks and textures the way your heart desires. Let your imagination runs wild.

I have been toying with the idea to include ground ingredients other than almond meal in macaron shell. One of the thing I was thinking was sesame seed. I love sesame seeds. I love its nutty aroma, especially when it is roasted or being cooked. The aroma is wonderful and so tantalizing.

I chose to work with black sesame seeds because the colour would add a nice touch to the shell. Black sesame seeds also have more intense flavour and aroma. Moreover, its health benefits are more superior than its white counterpart. The seed is full of calcium, iron, copper, magnesium and phosphorous, which help support healthy bones, muscles, blood and nervous system. It is also used in Chinese medicine to promote health of kidney and liver (source: www.ehow.com). Black sesame seed macarons sound like a treat for you and your soul.

Sesame seeds were pan-roasted over low-medium heat until they were aromatic and then grinded for use in the macaron shells and filling. This is one of the tastiest macarons I have made so far. The aroma was sensational when the macarons shells were getting baked. It sure will please anyone, especially the black sesame lovers, like myself.

I love the speckle of black sesame in the shells as well. They are visually appealing.



I find that the shells made with black sesame seeds are slightly stickier than usual and wonder if it is because of its oily attribute or they needed more time to cook. However, it was minor issue. The shells came out nicely. Taste delicious. It was an excellent change from usual almond meringue cookie. With black sesame seeds, it is also a somewhat healthier macaron option as well...at least, I'd like to think so.
Submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Winnie from Healthy Green Kitchen.

Here is the recipe….

Black Sesame Macarons Recipe
Make about 25 3-cm macarons

Note:
More details on Basic Mararons using Italian Meringue techniques can be found here.

You can also see more detailed intructions on making macarons in my Basic Macaron Recipe and I heart Macarons blogs (however, they are recipes using French meringue method. Most of the processes are similar between Italian’s and French’s. The only difference is the handling of sugar and egg white).


Macarons shell ingredients

125 g pure icing sugar
85 g almond meal (almond flour or ground almond)
40 g ground roasted black sesame seeds
100 g egg whites (separated 24 -48 hours in advance and is at room temperature)
125 g caster sugar (super fine sugar)
30 ml water (2 tablespoons)
A tiny pinch of black colouring powder, if you wish to add colour to the shell

Black sesame white chocolate ganache
100 g white chocolate, chopped
100 ml thickened cream (minimum 35% fat content)
20 g butter

45 g ground roasted black sesame seed
15 g caster sugar
a pinch of salt

Making macarons shells
Roast black sesame seeds in the heavy-base pan over low-medium heat until they are aromatic. Regularly shake the pan to ensure the seeds are not getting burnt.

Grind roasted sesame seeds in food processor until finely ground. Divide into two portions for making shell and ganache.


Sift almond meal, 40 g ground sesame seeds and icing sugar together through fine sieve and set aside.


Divide egg whites into two equal portions (50 g each portion).  Pour the first portion of egg white (50 g) and black colouring powder (if using) into the almond meal/icing sugar mixture.  Don’t mix or stir them, just leave it as is.


Put the water and caster sugar in a heavy-base saucepan over medium-high heat. When the syrup start to boil. Place the rest of egg white (50 g) into a mixing bowl, using the whip attachment, whip egg white to the soft peak. When the syrup reaches 118°C (on a thermometer), take if off the heat and let it cool down to 115°C (or until the bubbles subside).


While the mixer is still running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Be careful not to pour syrup onto the whip as it might spatter.


Continue mixing until the meringue cool down to slightly above body temperature (50°C) or when the side of the mixing bowl is warm to touch. The whipped egg white will be (very) stiff and glossy.


Mix a third of whipped egg white into the almond meal mixture and combine them well. At this step, I work the mixture very vigorously to blend the egg white with almond meal mixture. Fold the rest of whipped egg white into the mixture and mix well, yet gently, until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thick. It resembles a very thick cake batter, or as many web sites describe it as a magma-like consistency (I believe it means the thick batter would flow slowly like a magma).





Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with 1-cm plain tip (size #11). Pipe the staggering rows of 1-inch rounds onto baking papers or baking sheets. You will need two trays for this recipe.

Let the piped shells stand at room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes to let the crust forms. This depends on the room temperature and humidity. When the piped shells are dry to touch without it sticking to your fingers. They are good to go into the oven.

 

Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-force or convection oven, increase the temperature by 20°C if you’re using conventional oven) for at least 15 minutes. Just before baking, turn the temperature down to 150°C and bake the macarons for 15 minutes.

Lift the baking papers/sheets off the baking tray to the cooling rack and let it completely cool down before removing macarons (it is easier to remove cool macarons off the sheet. They are also less likely to stick to the paper). 


Sandwich cool macarons shell with chilled black sesame chocolate ganache.

Store macarons in airtight container in the fridge. Macarons will taste better after they are chilled overnight.


Making black sesame chocolate ganache

Put white chocolate in a separate bowl.

Bring cream to the boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove it from heat as soon as it comes to the boil. 

Pour hot cream into chocolate. Leave it for about 10-20 seconds. Stir the chocolate and cream mixture until melted. Scatter butter pieces on the mixture and stir until well combine.



Mix through ground black sesame seed and salt until all combined.

Chill the ganache at least an hour before using.  



Fancy a bite?




Friday, March 4, 2011

Salted Caramel Macarons - Me against Ladurée and Zumbo in the red corner


My obsession with macaron has driven me to spend (too much) time reading what people have posted about macaron on the internet. Be it, the recipe, walk-through processes, flavours, tips & tricks, and so on. One thing that kept coming up was the admiration towards salted caramel macarons at Pierre Hermé's and Ladurée's. This was on my must-have list when I visited Tokyo last year; salted caramel macarons at Pierre Herme's or Laduree.

I had the chance to sample macarons from both Ladurée and Pierre Hermé in Tokyo. The salted caramel from Ladurée was great. It tasted like heaven. That's what you get when you mix sugar with cream, butter and a little bit of salt… heavenly salted caramel. Yum! 

Ever since my trip, the thought of the salted caramel flavour has stayed with me. I have a relatively long list of macaron concoctions I plan to create but salted caramel was moved up to the top of the list for this week’s bake.


The salted caramel batch was a special ‘thank you’ for S’ friend who rode 800km from Sydney to Melbourne carrying special delivery of some Adriano Zumbo (Australia’s version of Pierre Hermé ) macarons for us. To keep the delicate little things safe, the macarons travelled all the way wrapped in a pair of socks on the back of a motorbike. As it turned out, one of the flavours he brought was also salted caramel. Oh! my humble salted caramel macaron would be compared against the great Zumbo’s. Ding! Ding!

The verdict? Mine was, compared against Zumbo’s, surprisingly good. I started to think that there could be some issues with commercially prepared macarons. I’ve found most (if not all) of them to be dry. Where is that “melt-in-your-mount” characteristic of macaron? The Zumbo macarons are good, better than most in Melbourne, but compared to mine they were somewhat dry.


The other thing that stood out was how much more delicate my shells are. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating, home-made macarons can easily go up against the great Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, Zumbo, and the rest. Home-bakers everywhere should see that as a victory to all of us!

S’ took a bunch of my salted caramel macarons to his work. They all loved this flavour. Well who wouldn’t, hardly anything can go wrong with caramel and topped off with salt… HEAVEN!

An earlier post for Snickers macaron also had an emphasis on caramel, but the filling is different from this recipe. It used dulce de leche, which only include milk and sugar. Whereas this salted caramel contains cream, butter and sugar so the texture is firmer and more set. The dulce de leche tends to be stickier as well. They are both heavenly, only the salted caramel is richer and creamier.

Note:
I didn't use the coffee extract, but instead use instant coffee mixed with a little bit of hot water. As of the result, the shell is only pale brown. I thik the colour will be better if you use coffee extract.
This batch was also slightly overmixed, or it could have been that the egg white wasn't whipped enough to get the very stiff and glossy stage. I could just tell when I finished the mixing that the mixture was a little too runny. Though, they were certainly not the prettiest macarons, they tasted scumptious!

Here is the recipe...

Salted Caramel Macarons Recipe

makes about 25 3-cm macarons

More details on Basic Mararons using Italian Meringue tecniques can be found here.

You can also see more detailed intructions on making macarons in my Basic Macaron Recipe and I heart Macarons blogs (however, they are recipes using French meringue method). This recipe is using Italian meringue method. The only difference is the cooking sugar syrup part but the rest of the processes are the same.

Macarons shell ingredients
125 g pure icing sugar
125 g almond meal (almond flour or ground almond)
100 g egg whites (separated 24 -48 hours in advance and is at room temperature)
125 g caster sugar (super fine sugar)
30 ml water (2 tablespoons)
7 g coffee extract
A pinch of yellow colouring powder or liquid

Salted caramel ingredients
100 g caster sugar
165 g thickened cream (minimum 35% fat content)
15 g salted butter
70 g soften salted butter

Making macarons shells

Sift almond meal and icing sugar together through fine sieve and set aside.

Divide egg whites into two equal portions (50 g each portion).  Pour the first portion of egg white (50 g), coffee extract and colouring powder into the almond meal/icing sugar mixture.  Don’t mix or stir them, just leave it as is.

Put the water and caster sugar in a heavy-base saucepan over medium-high heat. When the syrup start to boil. Place the rest of egg white (50 g) into a mixing bowl, using the whip attachment, whip egg white to the soft peak. When the syrup reaches 118°C (on a thermometer), take if off the heat and let it cool down to 115°C.

While the mixer is still running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Be careful not to pour syrup onto the whip as it might spatter.

Continue mixing until the meringue cool down to slightly above body temperature (50°C) or when the side of the mixing bowl is warm to touch. The whipped egg white would be stiff and glossy.

Mix a third of whipped egg white into the almond meal mixture and combine them well. At this step, I work the mixture very vigorously to blend the egg white with almond meal mixture. Fold the rest of whipped egg white into the mixture and mix well, yet gently, until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thick. It resembles a very thick cake batter, or as many web sites describe it as a magma-like consistency (I believe it means the thick batter would flow slowly like a magma).

Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with 1-cm plain tip (size #11). Pipe the staggering rows of 1-inch rounds onto baking papers or baking sheets. You will need two trays for this recipe.

 Let the piped shells stand at room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes to let the crust forms. This depends on the room temperature and humidity. When the piped shells are dry to touch without it sticking to your fingers. They are good to go into the oven.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-force or convection oven, increase the temperature by 20°C if you’re using conventional oven) for at least 15 minutes. Just before baking, turn the temperature down to 150°C and bake the macarons for 15 minutes.

Lift the baking papers/sheets off the baking tray to the cooling rack and let it completely cool down before removing macarons (it is easier to remove cool macarons off the sheet. They are also less likely to stick to the paper).

Sandwich cool macarons shell with chilled salted caramel.

Store macarons in airtight container in the fridge. Macaron will taste better after it is chilled overnight.

Making salted caramel filling

This caramel is done using dry-caramel method where sugar are melted on the medium high heat without any water.

Place cream in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Put it aside and keep it warm.

Add 30 g of caster sugar to a heavy-based small saucepan over medium-high heat. Let the sugar melt and shake the pan every now and then to help sugar to melt. When the sugar is
melted, put another 35 g of sugar into the pan and let it melt. Repeat with the rest of sugar.


Leave the sugar caramelised until it turns dark amber. Remove the pan from the heat and add 15 g of butter.


Add warm thickened cream to the sugar mixture. Be careful as the mixture might spatter. Quickly shake the pan to help blending cream and caramelized sugar.
Put the saucepan back to medium-heat and let it boil until it reaches 108°C.
Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a bowl. Cover the mixture surface with cling wrap to prevent the skin forming. Set aside to cool down and won't melt butter in the next stage.

Pot of gold. I can just have all of it on its own. Heaven!

When the sugar mixture is cool, beat butter on medium-high speed until it is light and fluffy (approx. 8 – 10 minutes). Mix the sugar mixture into the butter in two batches.

Chill the mixture until ready to use to fill macarons.



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Basic Macarons Recipe: Italian meringue method - Now, I'm a convert!



I'm back talking basic macacron recipe again but this time is for Italian meringue method.

Macarons can be made using two methods, which are French meringue technique and Italian meringue’s. Majority of the processes for both techniques are the same. The difference is how you handle the caster sugar (fine sugar) with egg whites. French meringue calls for caster sugar be gradually mixed into the whipping egg white. Whereas, Italian meringue method uses cooked sugar syrup mixed into the whipping egg whites.

Note: I have written a blog post about making macarons using French meringue method before, which could be found here. You might also find the I Heart Macaron post useful for the beginning of my macaron adventure.

With Italian meringue method, it is a little more complex and more tools (and washings) involved as you would need a thermometer. However, it gives shinier crust, less temperamental when it comes to weather condition, humidity in particular, and more forgiving when it comes to mixing. You are less likely to overmix the batch (which results in spreading macarons and no feet) using Italian method than French's.

I wasn’t convinced about making macarons using Italian meringue methods until lately. I had bad experience using this method and my macarons failed miserably. The shells were hard and crunchy. They were anything but macarons. I had always blamed this on the Italian meringue techniques. I had no idea then that I read thermometer incorrectly when cooking sugar syrup. See, I had never cooked/used cooking thermometer before back then (I know it might sound like a lame excuse). The first thermometer I had wasn’t a digital one. I misread the farenheit for celcius, and 118°F is nothing close to 118°C, in fact it’s only 47°C. It wasn’t a surprise that that macaron batch was a disaster; dry, tough and crunchy.

Now that I had a number of successful batches made by Italian meringue method, I feel more comfortable to recommend it. In fact, it is gradually growing on me and I might be a permanent convert. Italian meringue has become my weapon of choice for making macarons.

I based my recipe loosely on Pierre Herme's. I reduced the amount of icing sugar, caster sugar and almond meal and still found that it worked well (I find the macarons are sweet as it is and try to reduce the sugar as much as I can). Pierre Herme recipe bakes macarons at 180c, I bake mine at 150c. I have tried baking them at 160c before and found the macarons to be too dry and lose that soft and moist melt-in-your-mouth texture (note that I use convection oven or what Aussie calls fan-forced oven).

Since I discovered bread-making and are so passionate about it, I started to look at recipe from the baker percentage perspective. i.e ratio/measurement of ingredients against the main ingredient. In bread-making, everything in the recipe are measured against total flour weight. In macaron-making, I measure all ingredients against egg white, which I would like to call it the macaron maker ratio. I am very pedantic when it comes to making macarons, which I believe accuracy is critical. It is important to ensure the ratio between wet ingredients and dry ingredients is spot on.

My macarons maker ratio works like this:

My basic macaron formula (French Meringue technique) is:
Egg white 1 part
Pure icing sugar 1.60 part
Almond meal 1.10 part
Caster sugar 0.60 part

My basic macaron formula – Italian Meringue technique is:
Egg white 1 part
Pure icing sugar 1.25 part
Almond meal 1.25 part
Caster sugar 1.25 part
Water 0.34 part

This means I would measure the egg white before I start measure everything else. For example, I would use 3 large egg white for my usual batch, which yield around 100 g, the rest of ingredients should work like this:

Egg white 100 g (100 x 1)
Pure icing sugar 125 g (100 x 1.25)
Almond meal 125 g (100 x 1.25)
Caster sugar 125 g (100 x 1.25)
Water 34 g (100 x 0.34)

Apart from the accuracy, having appropriate tools is critical for making successful batches of macarons. Tools that you’ll need:-

·    Piping bag size 14 inch (350 mm). You can probably get away with smaller bag but I found this size is perfect for a batch producing 25 macarons.
Tools - using pastry scraper pushing almond meal mixture
through the sieve make it easier
·    Pipping nozzle, 1cm plain round tip (size 11)
·    Good quality (preferably heavy steel, commercial weight) baking tray. I love baking trays from MasterClass. They are made of heavy steel, got a commercial weight and reasonably priced. Good baking tray helps to insulate the heat, distribute the heat more evenly and make the macarons rise better and give you the more uniformed macaron feet (those holy-grail of macaron lovers)
·    Non-stick baking paper or silicone mat or Silpat
·    Sieve
·    Spatula
·    Stand mixer or hand mixer (or a whisk with a strong arm)
·    Scale (I prefer to measure the exact ingredients intead of going by volume measurement i.e. cup)
·   Thermometer, preferably digital one, but I guess the normal thermometer would work just fine.
·    Small heavy-base saucepan: for cooking sugar syrup with Italian meringue method.

Though you might have heard stories about failed macarons batches, that macarons are hard to master, it is not at all hard to make. Sure, sometimes the weather can be a little too humid, you might over-mix the batch, you might have some bad macaron day, the feet didn’t appear, but those macarons will taste exceptionally yummy anyway. Armed with right tools and right recipes, you can make this… at home!

Here is the walk-through for making macaron using Italian meringue method:

Note:
I also encourage you to read my other two posts for tips and recipes for making macarons;

Basic Macaron Recipe: Italian meringue method
Makes about 25 3-cm macarons

Ingredients
100 g/or 3 large egg whites (separated 24-48 hours before making and is at room temperature)
125 g pure icing sugar
125 g almond meal (ground almond, almond flour)
125 g caster sugar (fine sugar)
34 g water
pinch of coloring powder or liquid

Macaron filling
100 g dark chocolate, chopped
100 ml thickened cream (minimum 35% fat)
20 g butter, chopped

Sift the almond meal together with pure icing sugar through a fine sieve (some suggests processing ingredients in a food processor for finer texture. I usually don’t and it works fine without it).

Divide egg whites into two equal portions (50 g each portion). Put one portion (50 g) into the almond meal/icing sugar mixture. Do not mix the ingredients together, just pour egg white into dry mixture and leave it as is. Put the coloring powder or liquid on to the egg white. Set aside.

Put the other portion of egg white in a mixing bowl and position it in the mixer that is fitted with the whip attachment. Set this aside.

Place water and caster sugar in a small heavy-base saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to the boil. Do not stir the syrup as the crystal might form. Use wet brush to brush down any sugar crystal or syrup from the side of saucepan.

Once the bubble starts to appear in the syrup, start whipping egg white with high speed until it reaches soft peek and keep the motor running. 


Note: If egg white reaches soft peak stage before the sugar syrup is ready, reduce motor speed to medium and continue beating.


When the sugar syrup reach 118°C (I timed after the sugar syrup start boiling, it took approx. 3 minutes from the start of boiling to reach 118°C), remove the saucepan from the heat immediately. While the mixer is still running at high speed, slowly pour the syrup down the side of mixing bowl. Be careful not to pour the hot syrup over the whip attachment as it will spatter.


Keep beating the egg white at medium-high speed until the mixture is cool down. You should be able to touch the side of the mixing bowl and feel just about body temperature. The finished whipped egg white will be stiff and very glossy (it’s much glossier than the normal meringue method).

Using spatula, fold one-third of the whipped egg white into almond meal mixture. You can mix this quite vigorously until the batter is smooth. Fold the rest of egg whites in two batches. Fold gently but thoroughly until smooth and well-blended batter is achieved. The batter consistency will be very thick, flow slowly, and should not be runny. If the batter is runny, you might have over-mixed your batter. Do not worry that the meringue is collapsing. It is okay that it collapses. It need to be cmpletely blended in with the rest of ingredients and we are not making meringue of pavlova here, we are making macarons.



Add the mixture into a piping bag fitted with plain 1-cm piping tip. If you’re a piping bag challenge like myself, stand the bag in a tall glass to help with the filling. Once the bag is filled, turn it upside down and twist the bag a quarter turn (this will ensure the air, if any, is remove).
Pipe some batter under the baking mats/sheet to stick them to the baking tray. This will help tremendously when the trays are tapped on the bench to remove any air pockets (the baking sheets would stay in its position).

very focus and piping away...
Pipe about 2.5-cm round of batter (in staggering rows) onto the baking tray lined with baking mat or non-stick baking sheets, and leave 2.5 cm space between each shell. You will need two baking trays for this recipe.

Piped shells will be flatten almost by themselves

Tap the trays on the bench to flatten the piped shells and remove any air pocket. Macarons will be become slightly larger after they're flattened

Leave the trays of  piped shells uncovered for 30 – 60 minutes until the crust is formed and dry to touch. To see if the macarons are ready, gently touch the top of shell, if the piped shell is  not stuck to your finger, they are good to go into the oven.

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (fan-forced/convection oven) for at least 15 minutes. Before putting macarons into the oven, reduce temperature to 150°C. Bake for 15 minutes (this might take a little longer, depend on the size of your macarons).


Feet slow rising after 5 minutes in the oven
 Once baked, remove baking sheet/mats to cooling rack. Let it cool completely before removing them from the sheets. It is much easier to remove macarons from baking sheet when they cool down and it is less less likely that they would stick to baking sheet.

When the shells are completely cool, pipe or spoon filling onto one shell and sandwich two shells together with the filling.
with pitaschio buttercream filling

Store the macarons in air-tight containers in the fridge overnight. The flavor and texture will be better after several hours in the fridge.

Simple chocolate ganache filling recipe
100 g dark chocolate (50% cocoa), chopped
100 ml thickened cream (whipping cream, minimum 35% fat content)
20 g butter, chopped 

Put chocolate in a seperate bowl.

Bring cream to the boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove it from heat as soon as it comes to the boil. 

Pour hot cream into chocolate. Leave it for about 10-20 seconds. Stir the chocolate and cream mixture until melted. Scatter butter pieces on the mixture and stir until well combine. 

Chill the ganache at least an hour before using them to fill macarons.  

Note:

You can also check the below posts out for basic macaron recipe using French meringue method and my love affair with macaron in I heart macarons: