It is another long, bright and sunny day of May. The kind of weather that beckons you to wear your flip-flops, drive to the beach, and dive into the sea to cool off. Sun, sand and water…aha. Only that I don’t swim—duh!
In fact, I’m feeling quite cheerful to spend the day indoors, enjoying the quietness, now that I have my connection back. These persistent issues with the connectivity is a real bummer. I’ve been missing in action too long. And this time, I couldn’t find any ease with the slow routine. I was actually sick, worse luck, spoiling all my ambitious plans to have a good time. So there was nothing much I could do than go with the flow. Not even an overdose of movies could snap me out of the ho-hum days. On the contrary, it added to my woes—splitting headaches, sore eyes and sleepless nights. Eeeek!
Well, I’m actually going to save you the bother of reading all the boring details here. But let me tell you this--after all the sulking it might take me a couple of days to get back into the groove, especially since I’m still recovering from the nasty cold. I do hope to get back my spirits soon and drop by your spaces to catch up with all the stories, recipes and visuals I’ve missed.
Ah, I almost forgot, I wish to share a bit more. Because this is a first for me, I thought it would be fun to share my exciting news with you. First, I was delighted to learn that I won a giveaway at the Healing Foods-Mango event guest hosted by the lovely Reva of Kasaaram. And then, what a lovely surprise to find out that two of my fellow food bloggers tried and featured my recipe in their lovely blogs. The multitalented Anita Menon of Slice of my lyfe, published my Apple Jelly Pudding on her webpage, with a detailed account on how much her family enjoyed it. You can read her review here. Next, the lovely Nisha of Look Who’s Cooking Too, featured my Chicken 65 recipe (adapted from Vahrevah.com, of course) in her post on Appetizer ideas. You see, I’m a huge fan of Nisha’s writing, styling and photography skills—making her reference even more so of an honor. Ahh, enough. I don’t want to sound like a bragging little girlie. So let me move on to better topics like....the gorgeous macarons!
I first tasted these yummy morsels at a corporate event five years ago, and oh boy I immediately fell in love. The event was catered by the famous French gourmet company, Fauchon Paris, and macarons are their signature. Well, that was the beginning. I’ve indulged in my own macaron madness ever since. Mostly from Fauchon. For some reason I never tried my hands at baking them at home. Until now. Until I started blogging, that is.
Admittedly, my first baking attempt was not a complete success. Though the macarons did have the perfect feet and tasted fabulous, it was a little bit too chewy and didn’t have that puffed-up smooth shape. However, encouraged by the fact that my kids totally loved it, I baked them again. And again. Playing with colors, and learning something new with each batch. Mind you, I did have successful results, like the ones photographed here. But it hurts my ego to say—not always. You know what they say, “Failure is the stepping stone to success.” With that in mind, I continue my journey until I’m confident enough to bake the perfect macarons, every time.
Okay, if you are a novice baker you might probably be wondering what a macaron is. Macarons (unlike the coconut macaroons) are meringue shells with a smooth, domed, shiny top and ruffled foot, and sandwiched with a cream filling. The filling can be anything from butter cream, ice cream, fruit preserves to chocolate ganache—the choice is yours. The key to a flawless macaron, regardless of a good recipe, is following the right technique. A good meringue and the consistency of the macaronage (batter) are crucial factors in getting those perfect shells. Another tip, though disputed, would be to use aged egg whites (I left mine for 24 hours at room temperature).
The inspiration for this macaron is from the book The Australian Women’s Weekly Macroons & Biscuits, a wonderful cookbook with lots of delicious recipes and gorgeous photographs. Here’s my version after a few tweaks to the original recipe.
Pretty pink raspberry macarons
Pretty pink raspberry macarons
For macaron shells:
3 egg whites
¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
1 ¼ cup (200g) icing sugar (confectioners’)
1 cup (120g) ground almonds
½ teaspoon raspberry essence
pink food color (I used liquid colour)
¼ cup (60ml) pouring cream
150g white eating chocolate
6 fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 150oC/300oF. Line the base of a flat oven tray or baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 4cm circles about 2cm apart on the baking parchment and flip the paper, so the pen is underneath.
Meanwhile, pluse ground almond to a fine, powdery texture in a blender or coffee grinder. Sift the powdered mixture to remove any lumps (this is one step I’m not keen on--it took ages to swift the almond meal). Repeat the same process--blending and sifting--with icing sugar. In a bowl, mix the sifted almond meal and icing sugar until combined; set aside.
Place egg whites in a small, deep, spotlessly clean bowl. Using an electric whisk (I used a hand held mixer) beat the whites over medium speed until foamy and starts to hold shape, then increase speed until stiff peaks form on the ends of the whisk. Remember that the smallest speck of yolk will prevent the whites from foaming peaks. Now, tip in caster sugar, essence, plus the coloring, and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the meringue resembles shaving foam. A good meringue will be glossy and hold it’s shape without falling from the bowl when held upside down. Note that the cooked macarons will have a lighter shade of color than the batter—so be bold and add more color for your preferred shade. Transfer to large bowl.
Using a spatula, fold in the sifted icing sugar and almond powder to the meringue. As you begin, work quickly to knock out some air from the meringue, simultaneously folding in the dry ingredients. When the ingredients are almost combined, slow down and give it a couple of gentle turns keeping an eye for the right texture. Precision is the key here. A good macaronage (batter) should be smooth, glossy and fall back in thick ribbons from the spatula. The ribbon should also fade back into the batter in about 30 seconds. If it doesn't, he batter is under mixed, and needs a couple of more turns. Also, under mixed batter yields macarons with no feet. If, on the other hand, the batter is quite runny, it is over mixed, and you will end up with flat, chewy macarons. (You see, I learned the hard way. Since my first batch was ruined with a runny batter, I erred on the side of caution with the second batch. Result? Under mixed batter, of course)
Stand the piping bag fitted with ½ inch plain (round) nozzle in a tall jar and spoon the macaronage into it. Holding the bag upright, pipe into the outlined circles on the prepared baking sheets. You will notice that the batter will spread out a bit—no issues. Tap the bottom of the tray to release any air bubbles and then set aside for 30 minutes until the macarons have developed a skin.
Bake for about 14-18 minutes, or until the shells are dry to the touch. Take care not to let them brown. Cool on trays. Gently peel the parchments from the macarons and place on wire rack while preparing the filling.
Meanwhile, to make the filling, bring cream to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and then add chocolate, and stir to combine. Now push the raspberries through a fine sieve to make a puree and stir this into the chocolate cream mixture. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or until spreadable.
To serve, spread a bit of the filling onto the flat side of macaron shell and top with another similar sized shell to make a small sandwich, then chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes, or preferably overnight. If you have the patience, that is!