After seeing the darling chocolate macarons by Gilly over at Humble Pie, I was reminded of the fact that I hadn’t tried making macarons in a very long time. I last blogged about them in August last year, but the truth is that I had tried them a few more times with rather disasterous results. They came out too hard, lopsided, lacked shine, and exploded – just about everything that could go wrong did. I was beating my head against the wall when I recalled that Helen over at Tartlette had emailed me the recipe from a French food blog that she used to make her beautiful little domes, so I decided that I had nothing to lose, so what the heck!
(there’s a lot of cross-blog lovin’ going on here, huh?)
Now, seeing as I’d never actually eaten a macaron other than the ones I’d made, I really had no idea what a macaron should taste like, but after trying this recipe I could see just exactly what they should be like, and why the results of this recipe impressed me more than those from A Traveler’s Lunchbox – Helen was right in saying that the recipe with the cooked meringue gave a wonderful result. I found that these all had perfect domes and perfect little frilly feet. They also were unbelievably soft – a thin crackly crust that gives with a slight amount of pressure, giving in to a delicious, creamy inside with just a hint of chewiness. The entire cookie seems to just dissipate in your mouth!
I found that this recipe gives a fair bit of batter, so I thought I’d make a few different flavours. I had considered making some macarons with Asian flavourings, but my search for chestnut puree had been futile and the can of adzuki paste (sweetened red bean paste) that I thought I had in the pantry was nowhere to be found. The other combination that I considered was sweet potato macarons with honey cream, but a search for a recipe to make sweet potato powder with the purple Japanese sweet potatoes in my pantry yielded no results so that wasn’t going to happen any time soon either.
So, what was left?
I sighed with disappointment and reached for my matcha powder and black sesame seeds. Rather predictable flavourings for Asian sweets, but they were all that I had access to at 11pm last night, so I decided not to beat myself up too much over it. I divvied up the macaron batter into 3 seperate bowls and added my flavourings – vanilla paste into one, dutch-processed cocoa powder into the second and matcha/green tea powder into the third. I also decided to try making the meringue-based italian buttercream instead of my regular buttercream, and mixed the same flavourings into that to match the macarons themselves.
Though all were delicious, my favourites of the 3 flavours is without a doubt the green tea and black sesame macarons. The green tea is beautifully scented with just the barest hint of bitterness to offset the sweetness of these delights, and the black sesame seeds sprinkled on top provide a burst of sesame-flavoured nuttiness with each bite!
They may not be the easiest cookies in the world to make, but they are a lot easier than their reputation holds them to be, and I’d highly recommend that you give them a try! Come on, what have you got to lose? Especially when these morsels are to be gained 😉
Basic Macaron Recipe (adapted from Tartlette)
120g egg whites, at room temperature
35g caster sugar
150g almond meal
150 pure icing sugar **
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
150g caster sugar
** Pure icing sugar is also known as confectioners sugar in the US. Please bear in mind, this is different to soft icing mixture. Pure icing sugar is just powdered sugar, whereas soft icing mixture is a mixture of sugar powder and corn starch. You cannot use soft icing mixture to make these as it will make the cookies too firm and dry, giving entirely the wrong texture.
1. Preheat oven to 160 degees C – make sure you do not use a fan-forced setting. Sift together the pure icing sugar and almond meal, and set aside, then mix in 60g of the egg whites till well-combined.
2. Add the salt and cream of tartar to the remaining egg whites (salt helps thicken the proteins and cream of tartar helps to stabilize the aerated mixture) and beat till foamy. Add the caster sugar 1 tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat till mixture forms soft peaks. Do not overbeat at this stage.
3. Boil together the sugar and water for the sugar syrup till it reaches 110 degrees C, then pour into the egg whites in a slow and steady stream, beating continously. Continue beating the mixture till it is completely cool.
4. Carefully fold the almond mixture into the cooled meringue till evenly combined, and add any flavourings you wish. Continue to fold the mixture till it is soft and flows like magma – when you create a peak it should slowly but completely dissolve to a flat surface.
5. Pipe the macaron batter into even circles on a lined baking tray, leaving 5cm between each cookie, and make sure you don’t pipe any air bubbles into each form as that will cause them to ‘explode’ very much like a volcano while they’re baking. Sit them for about 15 – 20 minutes so that the surface can dry and they can form a skin.
6. Bake them for 13 – 15 minutes, then remove and place in the freezer for 10 minutes – this will make them cool quickly and make it easy to remove them from the baking paper. Carefully peel off the baking paper and pipe buttercream onto half the cookies, using the remaining half to sandwich them.
2 egg whites (60mL)
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp castor sugar
60g unsalted butter at room temperature, roughly diced
Whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl bain-marie style (over a pot of simmering water) and heat the mixture, whisking often, for 3-5mins or till it feels warm and sugar has dissolved.
Remove from heat and whisk on high speed till stiff and shiny. Add the butter slowly, one cube at a time, and continue to mix till all the butter is combined. Add any flavourings and refrigerate till firm enough to pipe.
These can be flavoured with any variety of different flavours, so think about what combinations you might want to try and let your imagination run wild!
[tags]macarons, cookies, mignardises, sweets, dessert, french cuisine, baking, recipes[/tags]
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