So glad to be baking and posting again. The past few weeks has been Craaaazily busy for me and so will this coming week. Rushing from place to place, hardly had time for a real good rest. Finally, I slept to my heart's content today. It was a good loooong rest which I really enjoyed - a much needed one too.
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of life, I NEEDED to do some baking to preserve my sanity. Haha, yes, bake to preserve my sanity. I feel baking takes my mind off the other things in life and makes me focus all my attention on the task before me. What better way to do this than to make macarons? These finicky cookies demanded my FULL attention, not allowing me to rest on my laurels. Plus, I decided to attempt my baking nemesis - the French Meringue Macaron - once again despite my previous two massive failures.
I made sure I did my research and read as many tips and troubleshooting posts I can find. Of all the posts, I read this and this the most times as I found them really detailed and helpful. Thank God for all these bloggers who took their time and energy to help people like me who, for the life of me, can't figure out the personality and behaviour of these little French cookies.
I used Tartlette's recipe for this batch, one that I failed with twice, convinced that the crucial factor that needed change was ME rather than the recipe itself. The batter looked alot more convincing this time, and it took me less than 50 strokes of macaronnage to get everything to come together nicely. However, I felt the batter was a little runny and prayed for the best when I sent the piped shells into the oven. The piped shells are so FLAT! I waited, and waited, and finally saw them rose to their feet. I was ecstatic! However, the feet continued to spread and resulted in FLAT macarons. Sob...well, at least they looked like macarons this time! French meringue isn't that bad after all...
See...my flat macarons!
In some ways, I like the French meringue macarons for its simplicity. Whip the egg whites to a stiff meringue, add the powdered sugar and ground almonds, a few quick turns and you're good to go. However, I do find this method more temperamental and less forgiving than the Italian meringue method.
There are many tweaks I still need to make. For one, I need to lower the oven temperature and cut the baking time. I baked these at 150 degrees C for 15 minutes on my centre rack. They ended up like crisp cookies with browned tops and the bottoms were still a little sticky. I'll be sure to place them in the lower rack of my oven next time to dry the bottoms.
Next is the filling. I've long wanted to try the passionfruit milk chocolate combination myself and I happened to buy a pack of passionfruits from the supermart the other day. I strained the puree, boil it together with the cream and poured over milk chocolate before stirring to incorporate the mixture. I also added some butter and mix to emulsify it. You know what, this combination tastes great! I'm torn between my lemon chocolate macarons and this. Perhaps because I love the tanginess of these fruits complementing my favourite chocolate. These are really good!
I'm still on my quest to improve these French meringue macarons. Still aren't quite happy about how they looked. One thing I really liked about these are their flat, less rounded tops compared to my Italian meringue macarons. I can hardly stack my Italian meringue macarons like these! Hmmm...now I feel like reaching for another macaron again...greedy me!
Passionfruit Milk Chocolate Macarons
60 grams egg whites (aged for 48 hours)
20 grams granulated sugar
140 grams powdered sugar
80 grams ground almonds
cocoa powder, for sprinkling
[Passionfruit Milk Chocolate Ganache]
100 grams milk chocolate
40 grams passionfruit pulp
20 grams heavy cream
15 grams butter
1. Sift the powdered sugar and ground almonds mixture.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue that looks like shaving cream. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.
3. Add the dry mixture to the meringue in three separate additions. Give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
4. Fill a piping bag with the batter and pipe small rounds (1 inch in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 to 45 minutes to harden their shells a bit.
5. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 140C. When ready, bake for 13 minutes. Let cool. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store the shells in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks
[Passionfruit Milk Chocolate Ganache]
1. Chop the milk chocolate into small pieces. Boil the strained passionfruit pulp and heavy cream together and pour over chocolate. Stir until incorporated and the ganache forms.
2. Wait a couple of minutes for the ganache to cool a bit and add the softened butter. Stir to create and emulsion. Let it harden a bit until it is pipeable and fill the macarons.
Yields 16 filled macarons.