Friday, May 24, 2013

Macarons for Afternoon Tea

This is part of the "An Afternoon Tea Gathering" post.

Macarons always follow a certain formula.  Italian meringue method has its formula, or proportions; French meringue has its.  I've always used the Italian meringue method simply because it yields a consistent product.

For the Lavender-Violet and also the Salted Caramel macarons shells, I used the 1.35 factor for proportions:

80g of egg whites - evenly split into 2 portions.  One for the meringue, one for the almond flour paste
80g x 1.35 = 108g of almond flour and castor sugar paste
                = 108g of castor sugar for the syrup
80g x 0.33g = 26.4g of water for the syrup

Yield: approximately 30 sandwiched macarons

So, this formula always depends on the TOTAL amount of eggs whites you have and multiply each portion of the ingredients by a factor of 1.35, except for water, which is 0.33.  But to be honest, it really doesn't matter how much water goes into the syrup because the temperature of the syrup already indicates a specific level of sugar to water ratio.  In order for a syrup to reach a certain stage, e.g. soft ball or hard ball, it has to have a certain sugar to water ratio, and each particular ratio would yield a certain temperature.  The more water you add at the beginning, the longer it's going to take for it to reach the desired temperature.

So, on to making the shells.

1. Divide your egg whites into 2 equal portions, and place one portion into the mixer.

2. Measure out the amount of castor sugar needed for the syrup and add the appropriate amount of water.

3. Start whisking the egg whites in the mixer until firm peaks.

4. Bring the syrup to boil to 240F (soft ball stage).

5. Slowly pour the syrup into the the whipped egg whites and gradually increase the mixer speed afterwards.

6. Whisk the meringue until the bowl has cooled and is at firm peaks.

7. Measure out the amount of almond flour needed and add the other portion of egg whites in, mix thoroughly.

8. Add food colouring to the almond flour paste to desired shade.

9. Add almond flour paste to the cooled meringue and gently fold to thoroughly combine.

10. When the batter flows like magma, ribbons when dropped, and reincorporates back into the rest of the batter after a 30 second count, you are done folding.

11.  Preheat the oven to 320F

12. Pipe the batter using a pastry bag fitted with #8 or #9 tip onto a clean, grease free silicone mat about 1.25" diameter.

If you add the food colouring during macaronage stage, you may not have mixed it in
very well and get this effect.  Whatever you do, DO NOT squish the piping bag to try and

reincorporate the colours, this is flatten your batter and your shells will not turn out!

13. Let the piped shells rest for 15 minutes.  Use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles that may have come up.

14. Bake in the oven for about 12 to 14 minutes.

15. Once baked, let the shells sit on the tray to cool.  It is easier to peel cooled shells than warm shells, there is a smaller chance to breakage.

Lavender-Violet White Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Chocolates and Confections

250 g of Valhrona Ivoire white chocolates

2 tbsp of dried lavender flowers

2 tsp of lavender-violet extract

22 g corn syrup

100 mL heavy cream

Yield: ~285 g

1. Add the dried lavender flowers and corn syrup to the heavy cream and bring it just off boil.

All the way from Paris!
2. Let the lavender flowers steep in the hot cream for about 5 minutes.

3. Pour the lavender infused cream over the white chocolates through a strainer.

4. Add the lavender-violet extract

5. Gently, stir the cream and chocolate to incorporate.  Do not stir too vigorously or you will separate the chocolate!

6. Chill in the fridge until needed.

7. Whisk the ganache quickly and briefly after it's chilled, while still cold to fluff the ganache.

8. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a #8 or #9 tip and fill the macarons shells.

*At no point is this ganache supposed to be over 34C, otherwise your ganache will separate.
To repair a separated ganache, simply heat it in the microwave in short 10 second bursts to bring it to 34C, and reincorporate the fats and chocolate back together by using a small balloon whisk.  Chill thoroughly before whipping to fluff

Salted Caramel Filling

Making salted caramel is a pain.  For the less experienced or whose skills are rusty, it's difficult to gauge when the caramel is done so that it will neither be too hard nor soft when cooled.  So, for this, I cheated and bought a jar of this heavenly goodness from our local pastry shop, Duchess.

Generally, to make salted caramel, one would use sugar and water and cook until a coppery color while not disturbing the mixture in order to allow the sugar crystals to form, and stopping the cooking process with a fat, usually butter.

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