This is my most ambitious macaron attempt to date – 3 batches of macarons in a day! I prepared the fillings in advance. But baking 3 batches of macaron shells in a day is still quite a challenge, especially considering my little oven, which required me to separate each batch into 5 different batches for baking. That’s 15 bakes in total! I was requested to bake for an office event where I was part of the French team (don’t ask me why). So, in the spirit of the bake, it took me a while to come up with the flavours to match the “French colours”. I admit I am a total prude when it comes to macaron colours – I just cannot stand colours that do not match flavours. So, finding 3 flavours that complemented one another was also a challenge. Finally I went with blueberry chocolate ganache for the blue shells, salted hazelnut praline buttercream for the white shells and strawberry cheesecake for the red shells.
Makes 45 macarons per batch
For the macaron shells (per batch)
150g ground almonds
150g icing sugar
55g egg whites
Colour paste (for red and blue shells)
150g caster sugar
38g mineral water
55g egg whites
1) Grind the icing sugar and ground almonds together in a food processor for approximately 5 minutes, scrapping the mixture halfway through to ensure they are finely ground. Sift the mixture into a large bowl.
2) Add coloring to the first potion of egg whites then pour it over the icing sugar-almond mixture but do not stir.
3) Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C. When the syrup reaches 115C, simultaneously start whisking the second portion of egg whites to soft peak. When the sugar reaches 118C, turn the mixer speed to low and pour the syrup in a thin stream down the side of the mixing bowl, without letting it hit the whisk. Turn the mixer speed back on high and continue to whisk and allow to cool down to body temperature.
4) Scrap the meringue into the almond-sugar mixture and fold the mixture until it is glossy and flows like lava.
5) Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe rounds of batter about 3.5 cm in diameter, spacing them 2 cm apart on baking trays lined with baking parchment. Rap the trays on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth.
6) Leave the shells to stand for at least 60 minutes until they form a skin and do not stick to the finger.
7) Preheat oven to 180C, then put the trays into the oven. Bake for 4 minutes, then, without opening, turn down the heat to 150C. Bake for another 4 minutes. Then, turn it down to 120C. (For the white shells, start at 150C for 6 minutes, then 120C for 9 minutes.)
For the blueberry chocolate ganache
170g fresh blueberries
50g caster guar
200g heavy cream
150g dark chocolate couverture (>70% cocoa butter)
50g milk chocolate couverture (>40% cocoa butter)
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) Add the blueberries and caster sugar to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cooked on medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking until the blueberries started to release their juice.
2) Remove from heat, then puree with blueberries until fine.
3) Heat the heavy cream until it started to bubble around the edge.
4) Pour the hot cream over the chocolate couverture a third at a time, stirring to melt.
5) When the ganache has cooled to 50C, add the unsalted butter and stir until dissolved.
6) Add the blueberry puree and fold to incorporate.
For the salted hazelnut praline buttercream
45g egg whites
45g caster sugar
90g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60g whole hazelnuts (blanched)
1/4 tsp fine salt
10g hazelnut praline paste
1) Heat the egg whites and caster sugar over a bain-marie, whisking continually until sugar has fully dissolved.
2) Transfer sugar and egg white mixture to a mixer and whisk on high speed for about 10 minutes, until mixture is cool to touch.
3) Add unsalted butter and continue whisking. The buttercream will curdle, but will become smooth as whisking continues.
4) Meanwhile, lightly toast the hazelnuts in a pan until it starts to brown and nut oil is released.
5) Transfer the nuts and the salt to a grinder and grind to the desired granularity.
6) Add the ground nuts and hazelnut praline to the buttercream and fold to incorporate.
For the strawberry cheesecake
28g unsalted butter, melted
70g Digestive biscuits
10g caster sugar
226g cream cheese, at room temperature
70g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
70g caster sugar
40g strawberry curd
1) Add the Digestive biscuits and 10g caster sugar to a food processor and process until finely ground. Pour in the melted butter and mix well.
2) Pour the mixture into a baking tray and compact it so it forms a layer of about 1 cm thickness. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 175C for 10 minutes or until slightly browned. Leave to cool to room temperature.
3) Add cream cheese, remaining butter, pure vanilla extract and caster sugar into a mixing bowl and mix using the paddle attachment until mixture is light and fluffy.
4) Add the ground biscuit mixture and strawberry curd to the cream cheese mixture and fold roughly by hand.
The hazelnut and strawberry cheesecake filling were just enough to generously fill a batch of macarons each. However, I was left with quite a lot of blueberry ganache, so I reckon you can get away with making about 2/3 of the quantity above. Then again, who can ever have too much ganache on hand anyway? The strawberry cheesecake flavour was the most popular amongst the three. But personally, I loved the blueberry ganache. Initially I was worried that the blueberry flavour will not come through the heavy chocolate mixture. But it does. Not that strongly, but, just enough to add a layer of “mystic” to the otherwise “boring ol’ chocolate”.