Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

17 Mar

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!

In celebration of St. Patty’s Day, I baked up a batch of green macarons! I was trying to steer away from making green tea ones since I’d made them many times before. Spontaneously I was trying to come up with another green flavor as fast as I can (in 30 seconds) and oh my goodness…I came up with a weird one. Then I spent another 30 seconds trying to think about what buttercream or ganarche I should make with it. It was not after I started mixing everything that I realized I should have made something more safe like mint or peppermint.

Anyhow, half way through baking, my oven turned off…and I had no idea why. So I waited forever for these to bake as I wonder if that eight minutes of decrease in oven temperature will change anything. Indeed it did a little, it created a little dent on the roof of these cookies. The decrease in heat sunk the partially harden crust a bit. Boo, but at least it was not as noticeable and as bad as it looked.

So what exactly did I make??

Ladies and gentleman, I give you wasabi macaron with ginger buttercream! So exactly how I came up with this? Well, I was trying to think of what green ingredients I have at home, and first thing that came into mine was wasabi powder, and then I figure I have ginger in the fridge. Since I mean if wasabi and ginger go so well together in Japanese cuisine, it should be good in a macaron too right?…Sweet and spicy, just a little kick.

The flavor was quite unique, and it was not bad at all. At first bite, you get that sweetness from the macaron ingredient itself, and then I can taste the ginger hitting my taste buds and lastly, the wasabi as I keep chewing. Oh and did I mention these smells exactly what it is? The wasabi smell was strong and the ginger aroma was divine.

I wore my green jacket day and night today, and I got pinched once after I took the jacket off. I hope you didn’t get pinched like I did!

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Let the Countdown Begins!

17 Mar

Thanks to pastry chef extradionaire Pierre Hermes, a National Macaron Day was established for March 20th a few years ago (except for Australia, which is on November 6th, we shall celebrate that later too)!

To celebrate, I am going to think of all the macaron activity I can do in counting down for this special day!

3 MORE DAYS UNTIL MACARON DAY!

In addition to purchasing the Laduree Sucre book recently, I just added his macaron book, Macarons, to my macarons and cookbook collection in honor of Pierre Herme!

Can’t wait until it comes!

Macaron Tip: Preventing Sloppy and Burnt Macaron

5 Mar

Since macaron is a very delicate cookie, it is very sensitive to humidity and heat in the oven. Since egg whites contain mainly of water, it would be neccesary to decrease the water content in the batter and while baking. Aging the egg whites dehydrates some of the water content (as mention in this previous tip), but during baking, some of the water will evaporate, thus leaving very humid environment in the oven. To solve that problem, simply prop your oven door open and leave a gap during the last one or two minutes of baking time.

Since macaron is also very sensitive to heat, the top and bottom of the cookie can easily get burnt. Bake the cookie on the middle rack of the oven and use two baking sheets instead of one. Simply stack one baking sheet on top of the other. Another great way to prevent the bottom of the cookies from burning is invest in a Silpat! You can get it at kitchenware shops like Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and Macy’s, or you can get it on Amazon (it’s a little cheaper). Silpat helps evenly distribute the heat during baking, BUT remember, baking macaron with a Silpat still requires two baking sheets! Silpat is also good for keeping the macaron round. When using parchment paper, the paper tends to crinkle in the oven, thus the paper creases cause the macaron to slide and mis-shape. But if you want equal size macaron, using parchment paper with traced circle would be a good start. Simply move onto using Silpat after you had lots of practice.

Summary: Silpat vs. Parchment Paper

Silpat Pro or Parchment Paper Con:
1. Distribute heat evenly
2. Keep macaron round since silpat will stay flat with heat

Silpat Con or Parchment Paper Pro:
1. Cannot draw tracing circle on it thus harder to pipe equal size circle if want practice

Green Tea Macaron

3 Mar

I realize I choose my method of making the meringue base on the time I have. Today, I had a little more time, so I decided to do it with Italian meringue.

As mentioned in my French vs Italian post, Italian meringue involves melted sugar. Sugar works can be complicated since the chemistry of sugar changes very rapidly under heat and also, it’s very dangerous as hot sugar can burns through skin.

Photo Taken by Mei C.

Green Tea Macaron

[Ingredients]

For Tant Pour Tant:
150g almond meal
150g powder sugar
55g egg white
2tbsp match powder

For Italian Meringue:
150g granulated sugar
37g water
55g egg white (aged)

[Instruction]

For Tant Pour Tant:
1. Sift all dry ingredients.
2. Mix the egg whites in with the dry ingredients until it forms a thick paste.
3. Cover with saran wrap and set aside. Make sure the saran wrap touches the top of the mixture to prevent formation of a crust.

For Italian Meringue:
1. Bring sugar, water (and green food coloring, optional) to boil in a sauce pan.
2. Meanwhile, using the whisk attachment in a stand mixer on medium speed, beat meringue until soft peak stage.
3. When syrup reach 118C, slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg white in a thin stream.


4. Beat the egg whites until it reach stiff peak stage.

Putting Both Together:
1. Scoop 1/3 of the Italian meringue into the Tant Pour Tant mixture and mix roughly.


2. Scoop the rest of the Italian meringue into the Tant Pour Tant, and fold gently.
3. Mix and fold until the mixture reach a lava-liked consistency. You can test but gently scoop some mixture 3 inches high with a spatula and bang it against the edge of the mixing bowl, the flow should be smooth and slowly drip in a ribbon fashion like lava.


4. Pour batter in a piping bag.
5. Pipe mixture onto a Silpat or a parchment paper on a baking sheet about 1 1/2 inch diameter circle, and 1 inch apart.


6. Gently tap the bottom of the baking sheets to rid air bubbles.
7. Let them dry for 20 minutes until crusts form or until the macaron batters are dry to touch.
8. Bake macarons at 325F for 15 minutes. If the oven interior looks steamy, prop open the oven door a bit.
9. Remove baking sheets, and let macarons cool on Silpat or parchment paper on a wire rack.
10. When cool, aseemble macaron by piping filling onto one macaron shell, and turn secure with another by twisting them together gently.


11. If you have time, store macaron in the refridgerator for 24 hours and let flavor develop. Bring to room temperature before consumption.

Green Tea Buttercream

[Ingredients]
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups powder sugar
2 tbsp matcha powder
1 tbsp milk

[Instruction]
1. Sift powder sugar, and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat butter until soft and fluffy.
3. Add in powder sugar a cup at a time.
4. Mix matcha powder into milk until a paste form.
5. Add matcha powder paste into the butter and powder sugar.
6. Beat until soft and fluffy. Use spatula to scrape down the side of bowl occasionally.
7. Ready to use.

Macaron Tips: Age Your Egg White

28 Feb

I wanted to title this post “Age Your Egg” until I realize that sounds like I could be telling women to age their eggs for infertility purpose. Anyways, that wasn’t what I meant.

Usually cake or cookie recipes that call for meringues don’t required aged egg whites, but macarons do because of its delicacy. Macaron is very sensitive to humidity during baking, so less water in its batter help create a better texture. By aging the egg whites, water content decreases.

Egg whites can be aged by either one of the following method (whether you plan to make it ahead of time or last minute):

  • If you plan ahead, you can separate the egg whites from the yolk, and place in air tight container in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
  •  If you plan to make macaron last minute, separate the egg whites from the yolk, and place in air tight container in room temperature for several hours or in a microwave-safe container, microwave your egg white for 10 seconds.

Aged egg white should have some air bubbles in it, since it’s exposed to air compared to when it’s in the shell.  It’s a good indication that some of the water content is gone since there’s air to dry the water out.

Fourth Time A Charm Too?

27 Feb

I’m not sure, but even though the raspberry ones I’d made last time was good. I really like the poofier Nutella & Irish cream macaron I’d made this time. It also looks rounder, thus cuter.

I wanted to make some macaron for my friend’s dinner party, but I was super pressed for time. So I wanted to make one with a simple flavor but complicated when combined with others. The first thing that came into mind was nutella since it comes in a jar. After thinking about it for a few minute, I’d decided to make a chocolate shelled macaron since I just need cocoa powder. Lastly, I want to mix the nutella with some cream cheese Irish cream filling. Each ingredient is simple and can stand on its own, but also tastes great when combined with each other.

[Ingredients]

Shell:

85g almond flour

150g powdered sugar

3 tbsp cocoa powder

3 egg whites (aged, optional*)

5 tbsp granulated sugar

Filling:

8oz cream cheese

3/4 cup butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup Bailey Irish Cream

[Instruction]

Macaron Shell/Cookie:

1. Prepare baking sheets by stacking two together and top it with parchment paper or silpat.  Preheat oven 375 degree.

2. With a stand mixer or a hand mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy.

3. Add granulated a little at time, and whisk egg whites until stiff peak stage.

4. In another bowl, sift all the dry ingredients for the shell.

5. Add them to the egg whites by batches and mix by folding.

6. Mix all the ingredients together until a lava-liked smooth consistency is reached.

7. Pour the mixture into a piping bag and pipe 1 1/2 inch circle worth of batter about one inche apart.

8. Air dry the macaron until when you touch the top of the shell, it does not stick to your finger. Should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

9. Bake for 10 minutes and rotate the baking sheet 180 degree half way through baking.

10. After 10 minutes, open the oven door a little bit to let air out, and keep it open a bit and bake for another 2 minutes.

11. Let macaron cool before adding the filling.

Filling:

1. In a stand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until soft.

2. Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar. Add it to the creamed mixture a little at a time.

3. When sugar is combined. Add the Irish cream.

4. Pour filling into a piping bag.

Assemble:

1. Spread nutell on one of the cookie shell.

2. Pipe a bit of Irish cream cheese filling, just enough at the center. It will spread once you put the second cookie on.

3. Place another cookie onto the filling.

Viola! Chocolate shelled macaron with nutella and Irish cream cheese filling!

*Tips for Making Macarons:

  • Aging the egg whites decreases some of the moisture content. I tried both aging and non-aging, both yield a little different but still good macaron.
  • Sifting the dry ingredients helps with light and chewy texture.
  • Air drying the macaron before baking allows a crust to form for that crunchy outer layer.
  • Using silpat or two baking sheets help even out temperature, so the bottom of the cookie won’t burn as easily.
  • Letting oven door open at the last two minutes helps let out the steam and also decreases the temperature by a little so won’t overbake or brown the top.

Good Luck!

Macaron 101: French vs Italian Style

25 Feb

There are so many things I can discuss about French vs. Italian, like SHOES (my guilty pleasure), purses, cuisine, tourist attraction, men, women and the list go on. But for this blog’s purpose, lets talk about macaron!

What do bakers mean when they refer to macaron style (particulary French vs. Italian)?

The method of making the meringue for the macaron are refer as the style of the macaron, and not where the macaron originates. The two common meringue-making methods are the French and Italian. They both yield delicious results but vary in the way of incorporating the sugar into the egg whites. This variation, of course, gives different texture and consistency, but rarely noticed by the consumer. Most bakers and macaron classes prefer making Italian style macaron because it’s more stable and consistent, and at most times, promise perfect macaron. But it really doesn’t matter which way as long as it fits you since most consumers cannot tell the difference between the macarons made with either method.

The Two Comparison:

French Style:

  • Involves adding granulated sugar into egg whites while mixing (less work)
  • More sensitive to humidity (harder to control batter & cookie)
  • Yields melting mouth-feel cookie (richer and more velvety cookie)
  • Used in cookbooks by Miette and Bouchon

Italian Style:

  • Involves melting the granulated sugar and pouring hot melted sugar into egg white while mixing (more work and harder technique esp with sugar)
  • Less sensitive to humidity (more consistent with texture & easier to control batter)
  • Yields more stable cookies (less melt-in-the-mouth feel)
  • Used in cookbooks by Laduree

So far I have only tried the French style. I can’t wait to try the Italian style, which I am quite confident about since I have work with sugar and caramel before, but I shouldn’t jinx myself! Stay tune!!