How I wish it really were spring in our part of the world! But no matter, flowers are an anytime pick-me-up and I had two lots of flowers to turn to for this challenge: orange jasmine/mock orange and chrysanthemum.
Orange jasmine(jessamine)/ Mock orange (Murraya panniculata)
Unfortunately, the orange jasmine macarons didn’t quite turn out as well as I had hoped. If you’ve been round here before, you might remember my attempted jasmine sorbet. On that occasion, the floral scent was too overpowering. This time round, the scent was non-existent, probably owing to the heat during the sugar syrup boiling process (used in the Italian method of macaron making). (I made a perfumed water to start my macarons, using the method described in that sorbet post)
Luckily, plan B was put into action, and I sandwiched the macs with orange-blossom scented mascarpone, and added an oven dried orange segment nestled in the creamy cheese. The combination was wonderful, the bitterness of the orange rind counteracted the sweetness of the macaron shells and the scent of orange blossom water tied it all together.
Although I was pleased with the overall macaron combination, the shells still disappointed a little. Underbeating meant I had peaky shells for the first batch (but they came off the baking paper beautifully). Then I added a few more strokes to the mixture, and ended up with the browned top/sticky bottom dilemma again (even though I covered the tops with baking paper). I know this sounds trifling to anyone still attempting to get “feet”, but it’s a frustrating challenge trying to get the “perfect” shell.
L: Too little beating, R: Too much?
At least I’ve now pinpointed the problem as all the other variables (egg whites, ingredients, oven temperature) stayed the same between each batch.
Abandoning the Italian method, I tried the French way for my second attempt at flowery macarons. I used dried Chrysanthemum flowers which can be purchased from Asian supermarkets. These flowers are used to make a refreshing tea. One of my favourite childhood drinks was an iced and sweetened version. The flavour is quite herbal, almost chamomile-like but better (because I actually don’t like chamomile tea).
This time, the flavour results were much better! I could really taste the herbal/floral flavour in the shells. To amplify the taste, I infused some cream with the chrysanthemum flowers and turned that into a white chocolate ganache to act as filling.
Texture-wise however, the shells had a bit of a hollow dome in the centre (noticable after being bitten into), which I think may be due to the beating (or lack of it). Hmm…perhaps I need a new spatula (*dropping huge hints to Mr. Kitchen Hand*)!
Onto Mac Attack 6 and Happy Macaron Day for the 20th.
Oh, and have a great start to the week.
(ratios based on Tartelette’s macarons)
90g egg whites
30g caster sugar
200g pure icing sugar (powdered sugar)
110 g almond meal
1 tbsp dried chrysanthemum flower petals, finely ground (to ensure dryness, I pulled off the flower petals, discarding the hard middle bits, then lay the petals on some kitchen paper and microwaved this for about 10 seconds)
Pulse the almond meal, icing sugar and ground chrysanthemum petals in the food processor until thoroughly mixed. Set aside. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy, then add the caster sugar a little at a time until the meringue becomes glossy.
Pour the almond mixture into the stiff whites and stir/fold with a spatula until all the almond mixture in incorporated and the “batter” gets thick and gloopy (frequently described as lava-like flow). To test, plop a bit of this mixture onto a flat surface and the resulting blob should settle but hold its shape, not too flat and not too peaky. (This is the bit I’m still working on).
Using a large piping tip (1/4 inch is the common measurement), pipe rounds of the mixture onto baking trays lined with parchment paper. Allow room between the rounds (for airflow). Leave these shells to dry out a little. I turn the oven on to preheat at this point.
Everyone’s oven is different, so the baking part really requires trial and error. I place the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven with another rack slightly above this. When the oven thermometer reads 150˚C, I place the tray of macarons on the lower rack and let it bake for about 6 to 7 minutes. By this stage, the “feet” should appear. I then rotate the tray to ensure even baking, and at this point, I slide a piece of parchment paper onto the top rack to protect the shells from browning too much. I then bake until the shells are dry enough to take off the parchment easily but hopefully not browned too much. With the French method, I find that I need to remove the tray and let it sit for 5 minutes or so before the macarons can be removed.
For the Chrysanthemum ganache, I scalded about 1 tbsp chrysanthemum petals in some cream and left to infuse for about an hour. I then strained the petals out and scalded the cream again to make the ganache. As for measurements, I’m afraid I forgot to write them down, but I usually use about 1 ¼ part chocolate to 1 part cream – white chocolate ganache seems to take much longer to stiffen than dark chocolate though, so patience is needed. In fact, when I filled the macarons, the ganache was still a little “runny” but eventually seemed to dry out.