My technique is getting closer and closer to perfection! My friend wanted to order 4 dozens so he can give them out as Christmas gifts, and that is a perfectly good reason for me to get into the kitchen again. I've been at a constant battle with my parents regarding this baking thing. Long story short, my mom doesn't want me baking at all and never wants to hear the word "cake" around the house. Putting my negotiation skills to work, I've gotten it to baking once a week, and a full day's worth. At least with a good 10 hours, I can create something cool.
It is totally one of those "What Asian Mom Says" as much as I don't want to admit. My parents usually don't care about what I do so I don't know what it is that they have against baking. Anyways, so a few weeks ago I made these macarons and I had to attempt it twice before getting the colours perfect. The texture was perfect on the first try but since I used liquid food colouring, the batter was pale and too runny. The "retry" looked great with bright colours and a perfectly "puffed-up" cookie, but texture was off cause I didn't give the trays a good tap before leaving it to dry out.
I feel like no matter how hard I try to explain, it will never be good enough. One of these days I promise to make a how-to-video. For the time being, here is another set of instructions. Refer to the first Macaron post for ingredients and measurements.
First combine icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor and blend until super fine and powdery. Sift through a fine strainer and re-process any crumbs that wouldn't go through the strainer. I know it's annoying and time consuming but just do it... it makes a huge difference in the cookie.
Weigh out your egg whites and almond mixture and divide them into equal portions, by weight, depending on the different flavours you want to make. I made 4 different ones : Apple Spice, Cranberry, Pumpkin, and lime.
Make a paste with your first set of egg whites and almond mixture. It should be thick and just barely stir-able with a spatula. Add your GEL food colouring and flavourings at this point before you add the Italian meringue. Add way more food colouring than you think you need because once you add the meringue, the colour will lighten up quite a bit.
Apple Spice: Freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon stick, cloves (to taste), no food colouring
Cranberry: No flavouring, pink food colouring
Pumpkin: Freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon stick, ground ginger, cloves, all spice(to taste), orange food colouring
Lime: Lime zest (to taste), green food colouring
I really hate putting a measurement to these recipes cause I didn't actually measure mine. If I have to, then I'd just say about 1-2 tsp of each ingredient.
Making the meringue:
Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring it to 121 degrees Celsius or 244 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it reach 119 C/240 C then turn of the heat and let it reach temperature with the remaining heat from the burner. Start whipping your egg whites with a tsp of lemon juice. Once the egg whites reach medium peaks, pour the syrup in a thin stream with the mixer on medium speed. Once all the syrup has gone in, turn the mixer on high and let it go for 15 minutes to cool. Divide into equal portions and add to the almond paste mixtures.
Combining the paste and the meringue will be difficult at first because they have such different textures. At Thierry we use our hands, wearing gloves of course, to scoop the paste from the bottom and mush it with the meringue on top. Switch to a spatula when it gets to a work-able consistency.
The difficult part is getting it to the perfect consistency for piping. You wanna smear the mixture on the side of the bowl then scrape it to the centre over and over until it reaches a ribbon stage. If you scoop up some batter in your spatula and let it fall back into the bowl, it should fall in a thick strip and make ribbon patterns in the bowl for a few seconds before disappearing into the rest of the batter. (I'm so sorry if that doesn't make any sense at all).
Put the batter into a piping bag and pipe equal sized rounds onto parchment. Once you get a full tray, pick up the tray and tap/bang on the bottom of the trap to get the rounds to flatten completely. Every time I skip this process, there will be air gaps in the cookies, making them extremely susceptible to breaking.
Leave them to dry out at room temperature for an hour then bake for 12 minutes in a 325 F oven.
Let cool and stack all the parchment paper on top of each other in one tray, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 days before filling with buttercream.
Butter cream recipe:
1 cup of unsalted butter
4 cups icing sugar
Poached apples for the centre: 2 peeled and cored and cubed apples, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water, 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, grated nutmeg, juice of 1 lemon. Bring it up to a boil until the sugar dissolves the let it cool and soak in the syrup over night or for up to a week. When you are ready to use, pat apples dry with paper towel.
Buttercream: same spices used in the macaron shell.
Roasted Cranberries: Combine 1 pkg fresh cranberries with 1 cup sugar and cook until they start poping. Add some water to it so you can strain out the juices separate it from the whole cranberries. Add some cranberry juice to the butter cream and save the whole cranberries for the centre.
Buttercream: Cook canned pumpkin purée over medium heat to concentrate the flavours and evaporate the liquid. Add the purée to the buttercream along with the standard pumpkin pie spices.
Lemon curd: 2 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 3 tbsp flour. Cook over low heat until mixutre has thickened. Add in cubed, unsalted butter to the mixture, about 3 tbsp, stir until completely dissolved then refrigerate.
Add lemon curd to buttercream.