Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Black Sesame Macarons
There is always love involved in a box of homemade macarons. How can it not be? All ingredient needs to be measured exactly, each step of making the macarons is as important as the next, and each fold of the batter needs to proceed with care and caution. And let's not forget about the waiting time. It takes 1 week, 1 day and 2 hours of waiting; 1 week for the egg whites to age, minimum 2 hours for the macarons to dry before baking, and 1 day of standing time in the fridge before the macarons are finally ready for consumption. And all these doesn’t even include the making and baking time.
I made these macarons on a beautiful sunny Perth winter day of 25 degrees Celsius and 40% humidity. I consider these macarons a success. These babies have pretty feet, smooth thin shell and a slightly soft chewy inside. Could the success be related to the temperature and humidity of the day as claimed by so some? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Regardless, I thought I should post the temperature and humidity for the baker nerds out there who might find the information important.
I am really excited to share this recipe which I adapted from the book, Secrets of Macarons by Jose Marechal. This is a really good book that provides all the tips, techniques and a little scientific explanation required to make macarons. The macarons in this book uses the italian meringue which, in comparison to the french meringue, involves an additional step of adding sugar syrup at 110-115 degree Celsius to the beaten egg whites.
The italian meringue works well for me. And believe me, I have tried many recipes using the french meringue and failed almost everytime. I did have some success with the macaron recipe from Tartelette which uses the french meringue. My success rate with Tartelett's recipe is about 50/50. I don't always get the pretty feet or sometimes there would be a huge air gap between the shell and cookie interior.
Now, back to these black sesame macarons. I was recently inspired to use black sesame in my baking. The black sesame has a distinctive nutty fragrance but when used in large quantity can be overpowering. So I decided to replace only 25% of the almond meal with ground black sesame. I was quite happy with the favour of the macaron shell. The aroma of the black sesame came through nicely without overpowering.
For the filling, I wanted something that doesn't conflict or overpower the black sesame favour in the macaron. I decided to go safe with the basic vanilla white chocolate ganache. This ganache will be very runny at first. Once cooled to room temperature, the ganache needs to go into the fridge for a couple of hours to set (note: It took 3 hours for my ganache to set). It is ready when it's firm and holds it's shape when piped.
Egg whites need to be prepared several days in advance, preferably a week, so that they lose their elasticity. Weigh out the egg whites and cover the bowl with clingfilm. Set the bowl aside in the fridge. Bring egg whites to room temperature prior to making macarons.
Black Sesame Macarons
(Recipe adapted from Secrets of Macarons)
For the black sesame macaron shells
150 gram ground almonds (almond meal)
50 gram ground black sesame
200 gram icing sugar
75 ml water
200 gram caster sugar
2 x 80 gram egg whites
For the vanilla white chocolate ganache
200 gram whipping cream (do not use low fat cream)
220 gram white chocolate
2 vanilla pods
To make black sesame macaron shells:
Process then carefully sift the ground black sesame, ground almonds and icing sugar. Set aside.
In a saucepan, bring the water and caster sugar to boil. Without stirring, make sure the temperature of the resulting syrup doesn't go above 115 degree Celsius.
Gently beat 80g egg whites to soft peaks, then increasing the speed of the beater when the temperature of the syrup passes 105 degree Celsius. When the syrup reaches 115 degree Celsius, remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the syrup in a thin stream into the beaten egg whites. Continue to beat the meringue for about 10 minutes, so that it cools.
Combine the ground black sesame, ground almonds, icing sugar and the remaining unbeaten egg whites, making a smooth almond paste.
Using a spatula, incorporate about a third of the meringue into the almond paste to loosen the mixture a little, then add the rest of the meringue, working the batter carefully.
Fill a piping bag fitted with an 8mm nozzle with batter. Pipe rounds of batter about 3.5mm in diameter, spacing them 2cm apart on the baking trays lined with baking paper. Lightly tap the bottom of the trays and allow the macarons to form a crust at room temperature for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 150 degree Celsius.
Bake in the oven for 14 minutes. My macarons took about 20 minutes. The macarons are cook when they come off from the baking paper easily.
To make vanilla white chocolate ganache:
Split the vanilla pods in two and scrape out the seeds with the blade of a knife. Stir vanilla pods and seeds into the whipping cream. Bring the cream to the boil. Take off the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
Chopped out the chocolates and melt it in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove the vanilla pods from the cream and pour the cream over the melted chocolate a third at a time. Transfer it to a shallow dish to cool at room temperature. Then set aside in the fridge until ganache is firm (about 3 hours).
Ganache can be make the day before.
Using a piping bag fitted with an 8mm nozzle, full half the macaron shells with ganache then assemble the macarons with the remaining shells. Store the macarons for 24 hours in the fridge.