Sunday, 19 February 2012

e a r l g r e y + m a c a r o n w e d d i n g b l i s s

We are doing it. We are totally jumping on the macaron band wagon when it comes to including amazing treats for guests at weddings. Whether it is a designer cake of towering macaron french goodness or a delicate gesture of tiny boxed earl grey macarons, your guests are sure to find your sentiment delightful. Perhaps you do not have patiseries near yet, may be slightly savvy in the kitchen? Why not try your hand at making them yourself? You'll be pleasantly surprised. Trust me.

{photo cortesy of Robert and Kathleen Photographers]

I'd always read about macarons in Enid Blyton's books but it wasn't until until my first encounter at Ladurée at Harrods in London that I fell in love with them. Since, I've been to various shops (there are many near me here in London) that sell these sublime delicacies. I'm not sure whether it's the beautiful crisp shell that bursts into the light chewy centre or the stunning display of macarons in full range of colours. I have a slight addiction to all things earl grey. From perfumes to sweet treats. My next tasting adventure will be to taste the delicate Earl Grey tea chocolate from Pierre Marcolini which I totally missed on my last trip to Belgium.

I came across this macaron receipe from Ottolenghi’s cookbook. They always have these amazing giant meringues in their window and I figure they can’t go too wrong with their macarons. This recipe is definately worth a try.

Base recipe for macarons

110g icing super
60g ground almonds (or almond meal)
2 free range egg whites (60 g)
40g caster sugar
2 tablespoons of ground earl grey tea leaves

Chocolate ganache

250g double cream
250g Greenbecks chocolate 66% cocoa (dark chocolate) chopped roughly
50g unsalted cold butter
4 tablespoons earl grey tea leaves

Heat up the oven until 170 degrees Celsius. (If your oven tends to overheat a bit, I would take it down a notch to 150 or 160 degrees Celsius because you don’t want your macarons to burn without the inside cooking.)
Sift the icing sugar and almond meal together. You can either use the almond meal, or grind it down finer so that it gives the macarons a finer texture.

Place the egg whites and caster sugar in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer (that is, not a handheld one) and start whisking at full speed until the whites have formed a thick, aerated meringue. Don’t overbeat the egg whites, you want soft peaks rather than stiff peaks.

Take a third of the meringue and fold it gently into the sift almond and icing sugar mix. Once incorporated, add another third of the meringue and continue similarly until all the meringue has been added and the mix appears smooth and glossy. Don’t worry if you have knocked some of the air out of the batter, that’s the way it should be, it should be deflated by this point.

Take a sheet of baking parchment and “glue” it onto a baking tray by dotting the tray in a few places with a tiny amount of macaron mix. Using a piping bag and a nozzle around 1 cm, pipe small rounds of macarons mixture onto the tray spaced apart.

The macaron mixture will spread a little, and then rise as well. You can make them as little or as big as you like. Mini ones are actually pretty cute! Ottolenghi has a good tip which is to draw circles onto paper to help keep the sizes consistent.

Now hold the tray firmly and tap the underside vigorously. This step is quite important - it should help to spread and smooth out the biscuits.

Leave the macarons out and uncovered at least 15 mins before baking. This is apparently to give it a nice “skin” on the macaron which will be the nice glossy shell.

To bake, place the macarons in the pre-heated oven and leave for about 12 minutes. They may take a bit longer, depending on your oven. The macarons are ready when they come freely off the paper when lifted with a palette knife. Remove from the oven as soon as they reach this stage, so you don’t overbake them and leave aside to cool completely. Don’t remove the macarons from the paper until it has fully cooled, otherwise it will break easily.

While the macarons are cooling, you can make the Earl Grey tea chocolate ganache.

Place the chocolate in a metal bowl which is large enough to sit comfortably over a saucepan of simmering water without the base touching the water. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring steadily.

In another saucepan (preferably at the same time) heat up the double cream with the Earl Grey tea leaves over medium heat.

Let the tea leaves infuse into the cream until the cream is a lovely milky tea colour. The cream will taste quite bitter but it will be balanced by the chocolate and the macaron.

Strain the double cream and slowly mix into the melted chocolate. Stir until the cream has been mixed into the chocolate.

Add in the butter and stir, you can either use a hand blender or mix by hand. Apparently using a hand blender you end up with a more glossy ganache!

Pop it into the fridge to cool until it firms up a little so that it is easier to pipe into your macarons.

To assemble the macarons, pipe the ganache onto the flat side of half the biscuits. Sandwich them with the other half, squeezing them together. Leave at room tempeture to set within a couple of hours.

Macarons are best served at room temperature.

No comments:

Post a Comment