Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chocolate Macarons with Sea Salted Butter Caramel

It just gets better - Chocolate Macarons with Sea Salted Butter Caramel ^^

Salted butter caramel
Recipe from Call me Cupcake!

100 grams granulated sugar
150 ml heavy cream
85 grams salted butter
A pinch of seasalt(optional)

1. Carefully heat the sugar in a saucepan withput stirring. Once the sugar starts melting and becomes a lovely amber brown color, swirl a few times. Remove from heat and swirl until all the sugar has melted. Heat the cream in another saucepan.

2. Add the diced butter to the sugar. Be very careful so you don't get caramel on yourself, it is HOT! Once the butter is added, it will start to curdle a bit, but just keep stirring and it will come together. Put the saucepan back on the heat.

3. Add the cream, a little at a time. Be careful, it will spit and spatter like crazy! Let the caramel boil for a few minutes and then remove the pan from the heat. Let cool and then pour your lovely caramel into clean jars. Don't worry if the caramel seems to runny, it will harden in the fridge (hopefully not too much..). Store in the fridge. If you feel that your caramel is to stiff, leave it in roomtemperature before using.

*again i suggest refrigerating before use. easier to control the texture. in this case i used a butter spatula to spread the caramel on the shells.
*i added more sea-salt (to taste) as i wanted the saltiness to contrast with the sweet shell, and to hopefully, offset or downplay the sweetness of the macaron shells. in my opinion it's still pretty sweet without the sea salt so i added quite abit. but it's up to you really.
Sea Salted Butter Caramel

One solid bite. <3 pardon the cui nails. *v*

Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling

this time round, i was REALLY pleased at how my cookies turned out. in my mom's words, the shells were literally good enough to be eaten on their own because they were dry and crunchy when they came out. and... i'm honestly quite happy to have them dry. i know, you must be thinking, but macarons are supposed to be chewy inside. AHA. this is when the filling and refrigeration comes in, and then leaving them for 24 hours to infuse and develop. after that, remove from the fridge and wait 5-10 minutes before consumption and they turn give an awesome shell disintegration bite with a chewy center. YUMZ. and to think i hated macarons.

i guess the only macarons i may start to eat would be the ones i make on my own because i can adjust the sweetness.

as before, i thought this chocolate macaron recipe was really awesome because they relatively used less sugar and because it used cocoa powder, the majority of the sugar goes to offsetting the bitterness of the cocoa powder.

the recipe from call me cupcake (link below) paired it with salted caramel butter (which i will post in abit) i paired half the batch with salted butter caramel and the other half with chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Macarons
Recipe from Call me Cupcake! (her macarons had such inspiring feet!!!)Makes about 35 whole

•100 grams blanched, ground almonds (make sure to grind more than 100 grams)
•100-110 grams egg whites (about 3 egg whites), aged 1 day at room temperature
•15 grams cocoa powder
•185 grams powdered sugar
•4 tablespoons sugar

1. Grind the almonds in a mixer or a food processor. Push the almond flour through a sieve to get rid of any large pieces or lumps.
2. Mix the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together with the ground almonds in a food processor.
3. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with a hand- or stand mixer. As the egg whites start foaming, add the sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue whipping until the mixture is glossy and stiff. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the meringue sliding out.
4. Fold the dry mix carefully and slowly into the meringue, use a spatula. Add food coloring if desired until fully mixed. Don't overmix!
5.. Fill your piping bag and pipe the macarons onto a baking sheet. Let them set for 60 minutes to form a dry skin.
6. Preheat the oven to 150° C. Bake for about 14 minutes. Let cool completely, then spread caramel on them and sandwich them together.

i still faced some problems with cracking shells and insufficiently developed feet. i will try banging the tray harder the next time to get rid of trapped air bubbles that may have caused it to rise during baking leading to huge cracks on the shells. i also suspect the positions of the trays in the oven affect how the shells rise. the ones at the bottom seemed to have cracked more.

also, i froze all the shells after baking (macaron shells freeze rather well), and took them out for filling the next day. they condense rather quickly and may feel rather sticky at the smooth sides while filling but slide them in the fridge for a day and they'll be dry and nice (and yummy) the next day.

Rowenta: i used the fan mode for this. i will also try fan with bottom heat mode when i'm more adventurous but i will first figure out if my macarons will turn out better baking one/two trays a time. i currently fit as many as 4 trays (two big trays on two racks and two small trays one one rack). will update when i find a way to get 100% no cracked shells.

completely cooked, dry chocolate shell. i am so pleased with them :D even the timing for the recipe was so accurate that i didn't have to bake them longer then stated.

Chocolate Ganache
Recipe from Food is my Life

115 grams chocolate, finely chopped - Note [1]
125 ml heavy cream
15 grams unsalted butter, diced
Stove method: 
1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. 
2. Place the heavy cream in a small pot and heat over medium heat until the heavy cream comes to a simmer (small bubbles appear on the sides of the pot). 
3. Pour the hot cream onto the chocolate and let it stand for 1 minute. Stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. 
4. Add in the butter and stir until all the butter has melted. Let the mixture cool at room temperature until the ganache has thickened. 
5. You can place it in the fridge to speed up the process.
*I recommend refrigerating the ganache before usage. if you observe in the pictures below, the ganache even after cooling at room temperature was really runny for piping. i refrigerated it and took it out for piping the next day. it will come to a nice consistency in about 5-6 minutes. too runny you will have trouble storing them without it being messy. (see below pictures. i tried to snap a shot but the cookies were sliding off each other. lol)
Microwave method: 
1. Place the heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl (glass or ceramic). 
2. Microwave the cream on medium for 30 seconds until the cream is hot. 
3. Add in the chopped chocolate and stir – the chocolate will start to melt. Place the bowl back into the microwave and microwave for 10 seconds. 
4. Stir the mixture and if there’s any remaining un-melted chocolate, repeat the process (do not microwave for too long at one go unless you want to burn your ganache). 
5. Once all the chocolate has melted, add in the butter and let the mixture cool.
6. If making the ganache a day in advance, cover and refrigerate it. Take it out of the fridge 15 – 30 minutes to let it soften before filling the macarons.

Earl Grey Macarons with Lemon Curd Filling

clearly, after my last encounter with bolo's macarons coupled with the 34 frozen egg whites in my freezer, i finally succumbed to the macaron-making journey. i did my research and read many different experiences, and was quite intimidated by all the failed recounts. it sounded simple enough. but i didn't want to take any risk. so i did thorough research, watched youtube videos and read various recipes. 

as i mentioned before, i'm not crazy about sweets. so i was careful in picking the recipe, comparing recipes and picking the ones with relatively lesser sugar. 

my very first attempt was a disaster. i had followed a recipe i chanced upon on youtube (Earl Grey Macarons with Honey Butter Filling) which looked mad pretty!! but the recipe stated 300º and i assumed it to be Celsius BUT IT WAS FAHRENHEIT. *faints* and i had confidently popped the trays into the oven and went to shower after adjusting the temperature in my oven (max at 240ºc), only to discover a whole batch of burnt macarons. :'( all my effort </3 and i think i was quite dumb because i came up with a theory that since it had to be round, why not pipe them into cupcake pans? REGRET. i completely forgot they would rise in the oven and they got stuck to the sides and because they burnt i almost had to throw the whole cupcake pan away because it was stuck so bad. i ended up soaking them with water and soap and they managed to slip out much better after that. phew. i was so discouraged. ._.

but no i refuse to give up, especially not with over 30egg whites still in the fridge. so i tried another recipe this time. less sugar (because i managed to try a couple of less burnt ones the previous time and found them SUPER SWEET). second round i ended up undercooking them. they looked cooked but refused to get off the baking paper. they tasted really good though, from the caps that i could remove.. so again, another batch down the chute. all that expensive TWG earl grey tea sachets and ground almonds.... sigh. 

this, is my third attempt. and after the first two attempts, i developed a couple of rules for myself.

1. Better to underfold than overfold.
2. Better to bake longer and let them brown a little than risking them undercook (because you won't be able to remove them at all) - i've heard that it's possible to pop them back into the oven but i didn't do so at that time.
3. Don't squeeze the whole batch of batter into a piping bag. split them into halves. you get better control of the batter that way.
4. After baking, cool macarons with baking paper on a cooling rack for 5 minutes then transfer to the top of a damp cloth to stop cooking. Remove macarons and they should come off really easily. 

i filled them with homemade lemon curd using Rei's recipe which i halved (they are amazing by the way)

Earl Grey Macarons 
- Recipe from What The Fruitcake! (she has absolutely gorgeous pictures hop over to view!)

90g Egg Whites
145g Confectioners/Icing Sugar
70g Granulated Sugar
115g Almond Meal/Ground Almonds
3 Earl Grey Tea Bags
Black, purple or blue paste colouring (Optional) -  (i didn't use)

  • Grind the contents of the tea bags until mostly fine (skipped this step as i used tea leaves from TWG which were already very fine.)
  • Process the confectioners sugar, almond meal & tea until the almond meal is fine then sift into a medium bowl to remove any large bits of tea or nuts.
  • Tip: If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
  • Whisk the egg whites with the granulated sugar in a clean dry bowl until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks.
  • If colouring, whisk in small amounts of paste colouring until desired shade is reached
  • Tip: If you turn the bowl upside down they should make no move to fall out
  • Tip: Don't worry about your meringue being a bit dry or over beaten, against popular belief that macarons are a pain to make, they're actually fairly forgiving
  • Fold half of the almond flour mixture into the meringue, starting quite vigorously then folding more carefully.
  • Add the remaining almond meal mixture and fold in carefully.
  • Tip: The macronage process is probably the only part of making macarons that determines if they'll be a fail or success. A good way to tell if the batter is ready is when you fold it onto itself, it should blend back into itself in about 30seconds. Rather under mix than over mix!
  • Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip. You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off.
  • Tip: It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
  • Pipe 1 1/2 inch mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  • Tip: I don't recommend using a silicon mat, I had trouble taking the macarons off each time I used it.
  • Once piped, bang the sheet down on a counter top a couple times to flatten any mounds and bring up air bubbles, also to settle the almond meal to the bottom giving smooth tops. (this is important to prevent cracking due to trapped air bubbles as well)
  • (Optional) Sprinkle the shells with a bit of Earl Grey tea
  • Leave the unbaked macarons out to dry, between 30min - 1 1/2 hours.
  • Tip: If you have a fan assisted oven you can dry them in less time by just having the fan turned on with the macarons in the oven.
  • While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 140°C (120°C Fan Assisted)
  • Once dry, bake for 15-22mins depending on their size (don't hesitate to bake longer if it's not ready)
  • Tip: They're ready when you push them and they move very slightly on their feet or if you can easily peel one off the baking tray 
  • Cool on a rack before removing from the parchment, 15-30mins
  • (Optional) If not sprinkled with Earl Grey tea earlier, paint each shell with a brushstroke of edible silver lustre paint
  • Tip: You can buy little pots of already made edible silver paint, or simply mix silver lustre dust with a bit of vodka, the alcohol will evaporate leaving the lustre dust behind
  • Pipe or spoon with filling and sandwich

as you can see, they did form some feet. not as pretty as store bought ones of course but i was pretty happy with them, considering my past two failed attempts. :)
very yummy i must say. :D