We went up to the Matakana Farmers Market last weekend and tried some gorgeous local produce. I was really inspired by the produce and picked up some macadamia meal and grape gelly for my next macaron taste adventure. I made some simple variations to my basic macaron recipe:
90 g almond meal
60 g macadamia meal
144 g icing sugar
6 g freeze dried Blackcurrant powder
58 g egg whites extra
58 g egg whites (about 1.5 egg)
1 g meringue powder
150 g caster sugar
38 g water
2 drops of Rose coloring gel
1 drop of Violet coloring gel
I substituted 6 g of icing sugar with 6g of freeze dried Blackcurrant powder and did something I haven’t done before – instead of sifting, I blitzed the almond, macadamia meal, icing sugar and Blackcurrant powder until it is a fine powder.
Put the first lot of egg whites into your stand mixer.
Into a milk saucepan, put the water and caster sugar in and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Some recipes say you should stir this gently – I’ve found that so long as I didn’t splash the sugar around, I won’t even have to stir. Use a clean pastry brush to brush down the side of the saucepan to avoid any crystallization if the liquid splashes up. Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions. Increase the heat and bring to the boil.
To make reddish-coloured shells, I added the gel colourings to my Italian meringue. The amount depends on the strength of your gel, what depth of colour you desire and how it mixes with other ingredients. Practice is the only way to test it out. I scrapped tiny balls out using a tooth pick.
Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium until it becomes frothy.
Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, decrease the mixer speed to medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. (Be warned not to get the syrup onto the whisk as you will then have spun sugar.) Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.
Add the extra egg white to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue folding the mixture to soften the meringue. To achieve “macaronnage”, I mixed the batter about 18 times. Don’t over do this.
Today I waited for 30 minutes for a nice skin to be formed.
I fan-baked them at 125°C, for 18 minutes. As I have 3 sheets in total, I decided to bake the first in by itself, and then this time add the two last trays in after 6 minutes to see if that changes the results. The macarons in the trays that were baked last were a little bit stickier than the sheet that went in first but still ok wit an extra minute in the oven. I think I will stick with baking them individually next time and only resort to time-cutting measures if I run out of time again.
Once out of the oven, the macarons were left for 2 minutes on its trays before I checked them. They peeled off the baking paper quite easily. I then slid the whole sheet off the baking sheet onto my cool marble counter top. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier to peel off.
I paired this with a chocolate ganache, and the recipe follows:
150g chocolate, chopped
Melt cream in a pot and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 2 minutes until the chocolate melts. Mix till the ganache is smooth. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes until firm for piping.
In the meantime, I used a small icing spatula to lift off thin sections of the grape jelly. I placed these on one pair of the domes and piped the chocolate ganache onto the other pair of the domes.
These need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the ganache to flavour the shells, so don’t eat it yet! These can keep in the freezer for up to 3 months – just wrap a few of them (4 or 6) with cling film wraps and place them in a airtight box. Bring them out an hour before serving to allow them to return to room temperature. The moisture will cling to the cling film and not your macarons.
This reminds me acutely of Ribena, my favourite childhood drink (actually still is!).