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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

white chocolate mocha cupcakes with lemon macarons {macaron recipe only}.

This summer vacation I flew back to the land of eternal summer. You know, Singapore's cityscape morphs so rapidly that a year away felt like five, but the humidity will always be an unchanging element.

I never thought that I would be able to execute a batch of successful macarons - in fact I didn't think at all - since the last time I made some was probably two years back or thereabouts, but the image of macarons on cupcakes, such a decadent dessert hybrid, was so compelling that all thoughts of feasibility were almost unconsciously forbidden to exist. Well it appears that positive thinking is also a crucial ingredient for getting those tricky little shells to behave. That, plus keeping an eagle eye on them; your oven is your computer screen for 12 minutes.

Before I knew I wanted a macaron to be the literal and figurative representation of a cherry on top of the cupcake, I was adamant that I would get the flavours of lemon and coffee to coexist in a dessert. Truthfully, I felt that having the lemon component of the dessert supported solely by the macarons would be insufficient; I wanted to pipe some lemon curd into the cupcakes as well but the baking powder I used was nearing its expiry date and did not provide enough height to the cupcakes. It was a disappointment but now I know to not trust the efficacy of baking powder with only a month to expiration. I didn't get to taste the cupcakes at their full potential, which is why I'll be leaving just the macaron recipe here today.

As much as I'm taken with richer flavours like nutella and caramel, I'm inclined to agree that macarons match best with fruity fillings. I would say that raspberry is my favourite, but lemon is quite all right too.

Lemon Macarons
makes around 24 macarons
recipe from Pierre Hermé Macarons

For the lemon cream:
75g whole fresh eggs
80g sugar
2 to 3g lemon zest
53g fresh lemon juice
117g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
33g ground almonds

Make the lemon cream the day before you bake the macaron shells.

Rub the zest and sugar together between your fingers. In a heatproof bowl, mix together the lemon juice, the lemon zest and sugar mixture and the eggs. Place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and allow the temperature of the mixture to reach 83 to 84C while whisking constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool to 60C. Add the butter cubes and whisk until the cream is smooth then use a hand blender to blend for 10 minutes. (I transferred my lemon cream to a blender since I didn't have a hand blender and I just blended it until it was completely smooth. It definitely took less time than the duration stated in the book, especially since I was making a smaller quantity than the original recipe. I would advise you to use your own judgement as to how long you should keep blending.)

Pour the cream into a shallow dish. Press clingfilm over the surface of the cream. Set aside in the fridge until next day.

For the macaron shells:
100g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
37g "liquefied" egg whites
approximately 1/2g golden yellow food colouring
3g lemon yellow food colouring
100g sugar
25g water
37 "liquefied" egg whites

Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds together. Stir the food colouring into the first portion of egg whites. Pour them over the mixture of icing sugar and ground almonds but do not stir.

Bring the water and sugar to a boil and let it continue boiling until it reaches 118C. When the syrup reaches 115C, simultaneously start whisking the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks. When the sugar reaches 118C, pour it over the egg whites. Whisk and allow the meringue to cool down to 50C, then fold it into the almond-sugar mixture.

Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a round piping tip and pipe rounds of batter about 3.5 cm in diameter onto baking trays lined with parchment, spacing them 2 cm apart. Rap the trays on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes until a skin forms on the surface.

Preheat the fan oven to 180C. Bake for 12 minutes, quickly opening and shutting the oven door twice during cooking time. Let the shells cool on the baking trays.

Assemble: Stir together the lemon cream and ground almonds. Transfer the cream into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe a generous mound of cream onto half the shells and top with the remaining shells.

Store the macarons in the fridge for 24 hours and bring them back to room temperature before serving.

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