Category Archives: Baking Recipes: Macarons

Lime & Coconut Macarons


Lime & Coconut Macarons

I was travelling too much and eating too much good food, naturally, I spent too much time blogging on everything but. This is seriously backdated, I made these lime & coconut macarons in June, and the recipe have been stashed in my growing recipe book since.

As I blazed through my food trails in Singapore on the blog, the dust settled, quite literally too, on my measuring cups, whisk and  everything I made in the last couple of months (with the exception of mooncakes, only because the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is tomorrow). I missed proper baking very much during the break in Singapore, but now that I’m back in London, the kitchen’s all mine (sometimes shared with my husband, but he cooks and I bake, so that’s okay), and I’m sure writing this, will excite me into aging some egg whites again!

Lime & Coconut Macarons

Macarons, oh macarons, they frustrate me and they tease me. I don’t know why I like to dive back into making them so much, even though they are arguably one of the trickiest treats to make in my dictionary. The shell can’t be too chewy, or too crisp, the filling can’t be too sweet (for me, at least). Too much macaronage yields a paste that runs everywhere, too little gives shells that look offensively like boobies. Yet, I love making them. Talk about being sadistic.

Anyways, why lime & coconut macarons? I was really into the whole summer vibe going on in London during the month of June, and I went through a ‘tropical’ phase. Everything I ate or made had to have some element of the tropics. I went a little overboard and decided to make lime & coconut macarons. As the meerkat says, simples.

I was working with the shell recipe from Cannelle et Vanille to make some vanilla bean macarons with salted butter caramel buttercream, and it didn’t quite work out for me on my first attempt with it (possibly because I was rather green at making macarons then). The shells had feet but they weren’t very smooth. So I thought I would try out the shell recipe from heavenwildfleur, an incredibly talented pastry enthusiast that I’ve met in blogosphere.

I wanted a slightly sweeter and sturdier shell to go with the tart lime & coconut cream cheese filling I planned to make, so I tweaked the recipe a little. It worked very well in giving me very smooth and shiny shells with nicely risen feet, but I probably went a little too far with the macaronage, the paste was a tad runny to work with so I couldn’t get perfectly round shells. The macarons nailed my craving for all things tropical; slightly sweet shells with a hint of flaked coconut, giving way to the tartness of lime, mmmm lovely! Here are the recipes.

For the macaron shells:

120 egg whites, aged for 3 days
3g egg white powder
90g caster sugar
140g almond flour (finely ground!)
160g icing sugar
A handful of flaked coconut
Green food colouring

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius

2. Sift almond flour and icing sugar together in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and egg white powder till soft peaks are formed. Whisk in caster sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. To the egg white mixture, fold in dry ingredients from Step 2 in 1/3 portions to combine. Add in the food colouring (the amount depends on intensity desired), and fold in the mixture more vigorously. Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a generous dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far.

5. Pipe out the shells onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle a little flaked coconut on the shells and leave them to rest for 30 minutes before baking.

6. When a crust is formed, turn temperature on oven down to 140 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking.

7. Cool parchment of baked shells on cooling rack. Unmould when the shells are completely cool.

For the lime & coconut cream cheese filling:

75g unsalted butter, room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold
75g icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon flaked coconut

1. Beat butter and cream cheese together till combined, then beat in icing sugar.

2. Mix in lime juice and flaked coconut until well-combined.

3. Pipe filling onto cooled shells and sandwich them for the final product.

As the cream cheese filling is a little runny, the macarons are best eaten a day after making them. The filling would have hardened slightly by then, and the shells are still perfect. I kept these at room temperature and they were fine for a few days (this might depend on the humidity at your location).

Enjoy and let me know how this works out!

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my Photograzing profile to see my other featured posts!

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Vanilla Bean Macarons with Salted Butter Caramel Buttercream

So I started off my macaron adventures with making erm, fake  nut-free macarons. I wasn’t contented with the fact the those macarons didn’t have feet, looked rough as hell (optimists call it rustic, home-made looking) even though they tasted great. I wanted to push myself to making better macarons and went on a hunt for a good recipe for the shells. I found this on Cannelle et Vanille, the most gorgeous food blog written and developed by the very talented Aran Goyoaga.

Making real macarons is incredibly hard work. I’m used to making cupcakes, biscuits, cookies, cakes, brownies, and nothing I’ve experienced through my years of baking prepared me for this very attempt. Four hours of very prolific swearing, aching arms, hair adorned with sticky pink bits of the batter, I swore I almost cried at the end of it. Tears of frustration and tears of joy, sounds very much like giving birth, no?

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Salted Butter Caramel Buttercream

I did feel very much like a mother, scrutinising the anatomy of my newborn babies when they came out of the oven. Let me explain. My oven is smaller than what would have been suitable for making tonnes of macaron shells, and my baking trays are small-ish too. I had to bake all those cute little rounds in a crazy number of batches, couple this with my lack of experience, I took four bloody hours to finish making these macarons. But this was good too, because I had a number of batches to play with, this meant that I could adjust baking times, and think about what went wrong with each batch, and learn from my mistakes pronto. My first batch was underbaked so they looked a bit pale (kinda fleshy pink), and the fact that they had nipples *giggles* suggested that macaronage had not gone far enough. Very frustrating for me because I am the most sedentary person and my arms were already aching badly from the macaronage, but the fact that little pale boobies came out of my oven for the first batch made me laugh. Yes I’m very childish….

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Salted Butter Caramel Buttercream

So I cheated for the second batch, and mixed the macaron batter for a while more. My arms were threatening to give up by then, but oh in the name of macarons and the ever-important learning process, I persisted. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to mix the batter again after letting it sit exposed for a while, but oooh, it kinda worked for the other batches because the nipples disappeared! I also made sure I covered the batter with a cling film to prevent excessive exposure to air because they might dry out too soon before I could even get round to baking them in my small oven. Nobody wants unsightly cracks on macarons, do we? I also went crazy maternal when I saw little feet forming on the bottom of the macaron shells. Feet, oh precious feet!!! My babies have feet!!! Nevermind the complexion!

My hubby calmed a very excited me down for a bit before I went on to make the salted butter caramel buttercream. Mind you, I didn’t know how to make proper salted butter caramel (I made a very elementary version which tasted good but wouldn’t be called proper caramel in a pastry chef’s dictionary…) and erm, I screwed it up big time because I didn’t understand what caramel actually was. I made up my own recipe but I ended up making a solid, rock-hard ‘caramel’ out of just butter, sugar and salt. A web search led me to realise that I needed cream in the equation to make it pliable and yielding, so off to Tesco for some cream, and thank goodness, I managed to turn what was teeth-breaking candy to a velvety smooth, sexy copper-coloured salted butter caramel. Phew.

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Salted Butter Caramel Buttercream

I cooled the caramel sauce down, mixed it up with butter and icing sugar, and spread the filling lovingly on my babies (have I told you they have feet?!) before attempting to take pictures that would do them justice.

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Salted Butter Caramel Buttercream

So there, my very exciting experience in making real macarons for the first time. Very frustrating, brought out the worst in me, full of mistakes I call lessons, but very very enriching and completely worth it! Because of that, I’ve gone on to make more macarons with improved recipes thanks to another fab food blogger, so stay tuned!

The recipe for the vanilla bean macaron shells is found on Cannelle et Vanille site (follow the link above), I haven’t changed anything except for the baking times. I would suggest using the different batches to test this out because it would differ with ovens.

Here’s my rogue recipe for salted butter caramel buttercream. As I made lots of mistakes while trying to correct my self-made recipe, I tried my best to record what I did to rescue it in the mayhem, and erm, I hope I did it as accurately as I should have and I sure hope it works for you too! I also made this the caramel sauce a little saltier as I wanted to add it to butter and icing sugar for a well-balanced buttercream.

For the salted butter caramel sauce:

150g granulated sugar
100g unsalted butter, cubed
2 teaspoons sea salt (lower the amount of salt if you aren’t intending to make a buttercream out of it)
200ml whipping cream

1. On medium-low heat, add sugar, butter and salt to deep saucepan and stir continuously while sugar melts. Caramelise this mixture to a copper colour. Note that caramel burns extremely easily, so keep an eye on it the whole time.

2. Meanwhile, heat whipping cream until it just comes to boil and take it off the heat.

3. Remove saucepan from heat, add the hot whipping cream. The caramel will splatter (very vigorously, I burnt myself in the process!), so you might want to wear oven mitts and definitely lean as far away as you can from all the action. Stir the mixture continuously until well-combined to a smooth sauce.

4. Cool caramel sauce at room temperature, and at this point, you can store the sauce in the fridge. I kept the leftover sauce in the fridge for two weeks (cling wrapped the bowl), and it was fine. Whenever I wanted to drizzle it over ice cream, or use it for baking, I take a portion out to room temperature and let it soften to a more workable state.

For the salted butter caramel buttercream:

150g unsalted butter, softened
25g icing sugar
2-4 tablespoons of salted butter caramel sauce, room temperature

1. Cream butter and icing sugar together.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of salted butter caramel sauce at a time, until you get the desired taste without making the buttercream too runny. I recall that I used about 3 tablespoons, but again this would depend on the temperature and humidity of your location. So add the sauce slowly and taste it as you go, stop when you’re happy or before the buttercream gets runnier than it should be.

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my Photograzing profile to see my other featured posts!

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid To Make Macarons

It was the point of no return after I was introduced to the fairyland of macarons (read how macarons changed my life in my Ladurée and Pierre Hermé posts). I decided that it was time to ditch cakes, cupcakes, cookies and brownies for some serious macaron adventures in my kitchen.

Some of you might have seen some pictures of macarons that I’ve made on my personal and The Pleasure Monger Facebook profiles. I have improved over the four attempts on making them taste and look right. But these journeys were not without perils.

Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Buttercream

Everytime I make macarons, some things are bound to happen.

1. I make a huge mess in the kitchen, and oh it’s a real pain to clean up after making macarons because the paste leaves a crusty residue everywhere, and whisking icing sugar is not fun because most of it gets air-borne when you start, and then you have to wipe every single surface it hits, which is pretty much everywhere. Have I mentioned that cleaning piping bags are so not a hoot?

2. I get covered in macaron paste, only to realise it hours later when I find suspicious crusty pieces on my leg, arm, whatever. Note to self: Always wear an apron, but for some strange reason, I am always too eager to start and I forget.

3. I swear, bang and throw things around, and make my anger and frustration noticed whenever I  make mistakes, which is VERY often. My only audience is my husband and my soft-toy, Pig pig.

4. I end up really happy if they turn out well, or upset if they go kaput.

5. Mostly, I feel a little empty because there’s no one else around to appreciate them, however good or bad they turn out, other than my husband and myself. Pig-pig doesn’t count because he (or she?) doesn’t eat. You know the lost feeling you get after a good party disperses from your place? That’s the feeling I get after putting hours of effort and concentration into making what, 60 shells for 30 macarons, and when I’m done, I sit there covered in sticky paste and think, ‘So what if I made these?’.

For all the things that I’ve been through whilst making macarons, I’ve learnt loads, and since I don’t get the satisfaction of feeding these macarons to friends and family, please humour me and let me share my journey with you.

There was The Beginning. Of course, there was. No one is gifted with the talent of making macarons from the first time they learn how to grasp a whisk. Through my adventures, whenever I made mistakes, I felt stupid and silly and incompetent and everything else negative in between. Macarons are the hardest things I’ve learnt to make, because there is so much more than a recipe, and I thought that those fantastic food bloggers have innate talents in making macarons, like they were born to do it, and I just wasn’t. This can’t be further from the truth. You can learn how to make macarons, it just takes a lot of time, a number of attempts, unlimited patience, lots of care, and you need to be a climate-sensor of some sort (temperature, humidity of where you are located plays a huge role in making your macaron recipe work for you). It takes a lot, but it can be done. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you.

So I ventured into this macaroon thingy I call business, with a recipe from Nigella Lawson. I was feeling inspired one weekend, without all the ingredients I needed, but was determined to make them anyway with whatever I could rummage from my pantry. I was missing a key ingredient, almond flour, but being the novice I was, I didn’t realise that it was crucial, and I made my first macarons with plain flour instead. I don’t regret making them, they tasted great and chewy, though they didn’t keep very well beyond a day. It was easy peasy, and even though these macarons were fake, they got me excited enough to make proper macarons later. You can try making them with the recipe I’ve tweaked as it’s a great recipe for beginners. They don’t look polished, but they look home-made and nut-allergy sufferers benefit from the lack of almonds in them. These happened to be made on a day when two friends came over to watch a football match with M, so they were my taste-testers and they seemed to like the macarons (note: I didn’t have more taste-testers after this attempt, except for my third, boooooohoooooo.) I’m posting up the nut-free recipe for my first attempt here, but stay tuned for my other attempts, I will be blogging about them soon! You can hop over to my Facebook page (follow link on the right column of my blog) for a sneak peak at my 4th attempt in the photo album! Welcome to my journey of learning how to make macarons!

*Updated: Hop over here to read about my next attempt at proper macarons (vanilla bean macarons with salted butter caramel buttercream!).

Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Buttercream
(adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Pistachio Macarons in How To Be A Domestic Goddess)

For Chocolate Macaron shells:

75 grams plain flour
25 grams cocoa powder
125 grams icing sugar
2 large egg whites
15 grams caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line baking tray with baking parchment.

2. Sift flour, cocoa powder and icing sugar together.

3. Whisk egg whites until fairly stiff.

4. Add caster sugar slowly as you whisk the egg whites further till they form very stiff peaks.

5. Fold the whites into sifted dry ingredients, and combine gently until well-incorporated.

6. Pipe small rounds onto lined baking tray with 1cm plain nozzle, let them sit for 10 minutes to form a skin, then bake in oven for 10-12 minutes. At this point, they should be set but not dried out.

7. Remove macaron shells from oven and let cool on a rack while they are still on the baking tray. Make the buttercream filling while the macaron shells are cooling.

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

55 grams cocoa powder, sifted
250 grams icing sugar, sifted
125 grams unsalted butter, softened

1. Cream butter and icing sugar.

2. Add sifted cocoa powder and mix until you get a smooth buttercream.

3. Fill a cooled macaron shell with the buttercream and sandwich it with another shell.

Done! These were great on the day I made them, but got too sticky-chewy beyond that. The shelf-life will differ with different climates.

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my Photograzing profile to see my other featured posts!