Giveaway Extended! I lost track of time this past weekend and I have no one to blame but myself. What this means is that the entry deadline for the #pfhtblog Blogiversary Giveaway is now Sunday, 21 February at 11.59 PST! Scroll below for entry details. (PS: those of you who entered by yesterday’s original deadline get 1 bonus entry!
Passion fruit! Delightfully sweet and tangy, full of flavor and vibrant in color. It makes for a great February flavor for the A Year in Macarons series–igniting that passion I have for food and all things related!
I borrowed a few tricks from previous macaron batches, including the festive gel coloring swirl from December’s Chocolate Peppermint and the silky smooth and delicious Swiss meringue buttercream technique from January’s Rosewater Vanilla. What that resulted in is one of my favorite macaron batches yet! It seems like I say it every time, but it’s true that have better and better flavors and textures with each batch?
One thing’s for certain, however. It’s time that I start playing around with my standard macaron shell recipe. Recently, I’ve been consistently getting an unpleasant uneven shell; they look perfect coming out of the oven, but then start to sink and discolor as they cool. My guess is that there’s too much air from either under-folding (I don’t think that this is the case) or having a too-low ratio of almond flour-to-confectioners’ sugar (I think this might be the culprit). So for March’s flavor… I’ll be trying something a little different. Wish me luck!
I hope that everyone had/is having a wonderful Valentine’s Day weekend! I’m not a fan of mass-marketing-imposed romance, but it’s always nice to spend time with the people you love, be it friends, family, or significant other.
- 100 g egg white, aged 3-5 days
- 40 g caster sugar
- 125 g almond flour
- 200 g confectioner sugar
- 1 drop of pink gel food coloring
- 1 pinch salt (optional)
- 2 egg white, large
- 2/3 c sugar
- 1/2 c butter unsalted, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbs passionfruit puree
- Measure out dry ingredients using the food scale. Let egg whites sit until room temperature.
- Meanwhile, pulse together powdered sugar and almond powder in food processor until well blended.
- Meringue--In a very large bowl, whisk the room temperature egg whites, caster sugar, and salt (optional) into a meringue. I’ve found that it takes me about 7-9 minutes to completion, and I break it down into three basic steps:  Starting on a low-speed setting, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until frothy, adding ⅓ of the caster sugar and a pinch of salt along the way.  Move mixer to med-speed setting; continue whipping egg whites another 2-3 minutes until soft peaks form, and add half of the remaining caster sugar along the way.  Move mixer to high-speed setting; whip egg whites 1-2 minutes and add the remaining caster sugar along the way. Move mixer to highest speed for last minute until firm peaks form.
- Be careful not to over beat the egg whites! You will know when your meringue is ready by checking to see if (a) nothing falls out of the bowl when you turn it upside down, and (b) the meringue remains in the whisk/beater when you stop the mixer.
- Fold in the mixed and sifted dry ingredients into the meringue; this is the actual macaronage step. I find that it takes me anywhere from 40-50 folds (and I actually do keep count) to achieve the right consistency. Folding doesn’t require gentleness; the macaronage process requires one to “beat” out the air from the eggwhites. When a shine develops and the consistency resembles lava or thick pancake batter, macaronage is complete. I’m careful to count the folds in order to not overmix!
- Transfer macaron batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (I use the Ateco #11 round). Using a food brush, paint 2-3 stripes inside the pastry bag with the food coloring.Pipe even circles on prepped baking sheets lined with Silpat-like mats. For even circles, I count out 1-2-3-4 while piping to help ensure more even batter distribution for each circle. It’s not a foolproof solution, but it works surprisingly well! Alternatively, there are templates that can be used and placed under the Silpat-like mats for additional assurance.
- Knock the air bubbles out! To prevent cracking and empty shells, the extra air bubbles have got to go! In parallel, drop the fully-piped baking sheet from a 4-6 inch range onto a counter or table that can withstand an impact. Do this three times, rotate the sheet 180-deg and do so three times again. It’s loud and might seem excessive, but seeing those tiny bubbles rise to the surface and pop make it all worth it.
- Let the shells try in a dry place. The top coat of the shell should be dry to the touch; no batter should stick. This may take anywhere from 30-120 minutes. I tend to wait at least an hour to ensure a hardened shell. Drying the shell is required for a smooth shell and macaron feet to form without cracking. Bake too soon before the shells are dried and the shells will crack—I’ve had this experience once or twice before and it’s the last thing you want to happen after having invested so much work into preparing the shells leading up to the baking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 320º F. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the sheet a touch more than halfway through the baking process after feet have formed. While I prefer to bake each sheet individually to exercise greater control over each, but in the interest of time, I have tried baking both together (on middle/bottom rack and switching them halfway through) and have found success.
- Remove shells from oven and let it cool completely before removing/peeling from the mat. Be sure to let them cool completely, as premature removal will result in decapitation—the “cap” of the macaron shell will literally come off, leaving the base/crinkly feet on the mat. No bueno :(
- As shells bake/cool, prepare the buttercream frosting.
- Bring a pot of water to a simmer on the stove.
- In a stand mixer bowl, whisk together egg whites and sugar over the simmering water, being careful to not place the bowl directly on the water--we don't want to cook the egg white! As you mix, the sugar will dissolve in the egg white, resulting in a gel-like mixture; it should not feel gritty between your fingers. This step requires ~10 minutes of mixing over the water; you should aim to hit a temperature 140º F to pasteurize the egg white.
- Fit the mixing bowl back into the stand mixer or use a hand mixer to beat the egg white-sugar mixture starting on med-low and progressing up to high until it forms stiff peaks and it has cooled to room temperature (as you beat and incorporate air, the mixture will cool).
- Add in butter in 1 tablespoon chunks at a time on medium speed. Add in salt as well as vanilla extract. Continue beating until blended together and smooth. If it looks like it's separating, don't freak out! Be patient as it will come together, I promise! And if you're not convinced, beat it on high and you'll see it start to take it's fluffy, creamy shape!
- Beat in passionfruit puree, 1 tablespoon at a time on med-high to high until well incorporated.
- Fill the buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip (#11 Ateco, I use the same one for the macarons) in preparation for assembly.
- Sort and match macaron shells into pairs of roughly equal size.
- For each cookie pair, pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto the flat side of one cookie. I pipe a border around the perimeter of the cookie, before spiraling in and filling the center.
- Place the accompanying cookie on top and optionally twist the cookies in opposite directions to help distribute the buttercream throughout the macaron. Repeat for remaining cookies.
- You can now enjoy your the fruits of your labor immediately! Or... store assembled cookies in an air-tight container in the fridge for 12-24 hours. This allows the flavors to penetrate through the entirety of the macaron, enhancing both the texture and flavor of the eventual tasting experience!
- To serve, remove from refrigerator and let the macarons warm to room temperature prior to enjoying. (Hint: if it's crunchy when you bite into it, it's probably still too cold)
#pfhtblog Blogiversary Giveaway Details
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