Tag Archives: macaron recipe

What I Have Been Up To and…My First Guest Post!

I miss you guys, I really do. So here I am, clearing the cobwebs to say……I’m STILL alive and that I hope you haven’t forgotten about me. It’s been a while since I wrote anything here. I’ve got tonnes of comments and emails to reply to (I’m sorry, please give me some time). I have not baked or cooked anything recently. The last thing I made was tau yew bak  (braised pork belly), which took me 4 hours on Chinese New Year’s Eve and that was it. So it must have been a week? And that’s a ridiculous record in my books because it means that I’ve been feeling pent up from the lack of my favourite activities. Nothing remotely interesting happened over the last week. I’ve just been holed up in the study, poring over mountains of journals and books, with a pencil and my laptop fired up to get me to the finishing line. I shan’t say too much here, all shall be revealed by the end of this week. And yes, hopefully, you’ll see me resurrecting my annoying self on Facebook, Twitter and the blog when ‘things are revealed’.

It sounds like I had a sucky week, eh? That was pretty much the case, except for the one thing that I’ve been looking forward to for a month now. You see, I started putting my heart, soul and food (but of course..) out for the world to see on 14 February 2010. As the first birthday of my blog approaches (I’m thinking of making something to celebrate this, any ideas?), I marvel at the journey that I’ve been on for the past year, especially with regards to all the cooking and baking I’ve done. Personal growth as a humble home cook aside, I’ve also had the great fortune of meeting quite a few bloggers through all that writing. One of them is none other than Notabilia, who has invited me to pen my very first guest post. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the birthday celebrations for my blog, so thank you for this party, Notabilia.

For this month’s ‘Cooking With…’ instalment over at Notabilia’s, I created a fusion pastry of sorts, something that is inspired by my home country, Singapore, and my current time in London. Over the years in Europe, I’ve become acquainted with beautifully crafted pastries that have not seen the light of day in Singapore.

One of the pastries that has me eating out of its hand (or feet, you’ll see why) is the French macaron. I became enamoured with these delicate babies when my friend took me for birthday tea at Ladurée in Harrods slightly more than a year ago, and it is an understatement to say that my life was changed after that. A few months later, I took the first bite of Pierre Hermé’s ingenious creations, and I became obsessed, in the most psychotic of ways, with these almond cookies. I endeavoured to make them in my kitchen, the first time without incorporating almonds, and without using the proper method. They were delicious but were without feet. Then I tried making them again, this time using the proper method, and lo and behold, I got lucky. One macaron flavour then paved way for another in my kitchen. I was making them regularly in 2010, constantly thinking of new flavours to try out, and I am always excited to get my hands dirty.

So what are these feet that we’re talking about? You know the ruffle-y bit underneath that smooth surface, the bits that are getting cosy with the filling? That’s the feet. Getting them to appear is a bit of a terrifying, stressful venture that drives bakers nuts, and yes, all macaron aficionados should inspect these cookies for proper anatomy. So we’ve got the appearance sorted. How about the taste? Well, a macaron should have a crispy exterior that yields to a slightly chewy centre, and then the shell should cave to the most luscious cores, such as creams, ganache etc. The difficulties are apparent in making a macaron. We need to master the perfect balance between crisp and chewy textures, and we need a good filling. We also need feet. Such a massive amount of effort goes into making these babies that it’s no wonder bakeries hold these ransom for exorbitant amounts of cash. It is also for this reason, that I have gotten round to making macarons at home.

I’m happy to say that feet are aplenty since my first proper attempt, and I hope they continue to pitter-patter their way through my life or at the very least, take The Pleasure Monger to its second birthday (you see, the business of getting feet or no feet seems to be jinxed and I hope that I didn’t just do my luck in). Enough about macarons and getting all nostalgic on my side, let’s bring you over to my first guest post at Notabilia’s to have a look at the recipe! In the meantime, wait for my return!

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.

 

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Happy Chinese New Year

As Chinese New Year approaches, you’ll see a flurry of activities in every Chinese household. We spring clean to rid of ill-fortune and welcome good luck. We deck our homes in red and gold, both auspicious colours for the Chinese, to celebrate the most important traditional Chinese festival. We cook, we bake, we feast and we grow fat with our dear family and friends, all in the name of the new year. It is a time to gather with loved ones, particularly so on the eve of the Chinese New Year when we have reunion dinners with our families. It is a time when we say, out with the old, in with the new. This spring festival lasts for fifteen days, and is so important that even those away from home will endeavour to keep to the traditions of preparing ourselves for a blessed year ahead. Like us.

As we bid farewell to the Year of the Tiger and give a warm welcome to the Rabbit, we find ourselves somewhat wedged in no man’s land for Chinese New Year. This is the 4th year that we’re spending the festival overseas without our families. Nobody kicks up a big fuss over Chinese New Year in London, you don’t feel the excitement in the air, in fact, you wouldn’t even realise that the Chinese are celebrating it unless you set foot into Chinatown. That is where you will see families huddled into crowded supermarkets, peering into baskets and baskets of goodies, filling their trolleys up with groceries and cartons of mandarin oranges, and yes, you might even catch the occasional Chinese New Year song. But once outside of Chinatown, everyone is oblivious to the festival. The only way you’ll experience it is if you step into a Chinese home, such as ours.

Although our home severely lacks decorations, we are on our way to putting up three miserable couplets that we bought years ago. I haven’t managed to get a bunch of pussy willow, and doubt I will have the time to do it. I even contemplated putting up red packets (known as ang baos) on my Christmas tree, which I’ve only taken down last week. We haven’t bought any groceries appropriate for the new year. The only things that hint at the festival are a couple of red packets that we received from our parents, and a heap of oranges and clementines in our fruit basket. Traditionally, tangerines are a symbol of good luck and oranges are that of wealth. You will find that many food items we consume or exchange with family and friends are a symbol of either, or that of good health, happiness etc. These items are chosen as such because their names sound like the respective blesssings in Chinese. We couldn’t get tangerines, but all the same, clementines are a type of mandarin oranges, so that’s good enough for us.

During Chinese New Year, we visit our family and friends to wish them a blessed new year, and to catch up on our lives. No one shows up empty-handed and it’s important to bear gifts as a show of goodwill. These gifts are typically returned in other forms, depending on what the host family has purchased, really. Of these, the most important ones are oranges or tangerines. These are given in pairs, and for the more superstitious host families, never show up four oranges as four sounds like death in the Chinese language. The host families will return the oranges from their own stash to you, and this means that they give their blessings to you too. As you can see, oranges are a staple during the new year, and this, my dears, is the source of my inspiration for the Year of the Rabbit.

With this in mind, I thought it might be interesting to put a twist in the traditional Chinese New Year snacks. Instead of pineapple tarts, kueh bangkit, love letters and what-not, I decided to make some clementine macarons to welcome the new year. In a way, it is a perfect {fusion} representation of our circumstance as we are celebrating Chinese New Year in London. I put a dash of grated clementine zest in the macaron shells and made them a beautiful sunset shade of orange with the wonderful bottle of food colouring that Dad gave me in December last year. I also filled the shells with an orange buttercream that has been infused with orange zest and orange and lemon juice for the citrusy fragrance and tartness. The flavours worked beautifully (although they turned out a little sweet because my oranges were unusually sweet) and I think they make rather pretty gifts. So if you would like to present something different to your loved ones this year, why don’t you make a box of these clementine macarons instead? The possibilities are endless, really. You can make the buttercream however sweet or tart you want, and you could even make pineapple macarons in place of pineapple tarts.

I’m really happy with these macarons and wish I could box them up and give them to our families. But everyone’s 6000 miles away and besides, M and I might just finish the whole stash before our friends come over tomorrow night…..Oh well, there’s always next year, and the year after…..

For now, the plateful of clementine macarons do well to brighten up our currently un-festive home. That, and a bunch of oranges and a couple of red packets. Oh, and the couplets too. Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! I wish you prosperity, good health and happiness for years to come. Have a good one, and eat loads on our behalf!

Here’s the recipe:

Clementine Macarons with Orange Buttercream

For the macaron shells:
(adapted from heavenwildfleur)
Makes 34 shells

66g egg white, aged
2g egg white powder
60g caster sugar
90g almond flour
110g icing sugar
1/3 teaspoon grated clementine zest
A few drops of orange food colouring

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius.

2. Blitz almond flour, icing sugar and grated orange zest to combine and make the meal as fine as possible. Sift blitzed ingredients 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 colouring, then 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 and leave them to rest for 25 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 Orange Buttercream:

100g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice (adjust levels according depending on personal taste)
3 teaspoons orange juice (adjust levels according depending on personal taste)
2/3 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange-infused milk (leave 1 tablespoon orange zest in 2 tablespoons of milk in fridge, overnight)

1. Beat butter and icing sugar together till creamy.

2. Add juices and zest and beat till smooth.

3. Add milk and beat till combined. If this is too runny, chill buttercream before piping onto shells.

4. Fill cooled macaron shells with buttercream and sandwich.

Enjoy!

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.

 

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!

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!