Well. Hello. Can you believe it's February already? And soon it will be March.
We moved into our new home just before Christmas. We were left stranded without internet for more than 2 months thanks to our very "competent" Australian service provider (ahem... Telstra). We could only shrug, keep calm and carry on. Internet troubles aside, I'm in love with my new house.
I'm getting used to working in my new kitchen. The bench space is smaller than in my old kitchen. However in exchange, there is plenty of storage space and a pantry the size of a small walk-in wardrobe. So I can’t complain. With the additional storage space, I can now buy more kitchen gadgets that I don’t need, such as an ice cream machine and a pasta machine. Ha!
With the new year, means new resolutions, of course. I have a massive list of things-to-accomplish this year. One of which is to attempt several challenging bake projects which I have been putting off because they are too time consuming and I’m lazy.
So here’s the first for the year, a creation by Adrian Zumbo- Chouxmaca. What is Chouxmaca, I hear you ask. It's a combination of choux pastry and macaron. Genius, I thought. One of those things that I wish I have thought of first. And as pointed out by Adrian Zumbo, the name Chouxmaca sounds like the famous formula one driver Shumaker. How cool is that?
I think I should probably clarify at this stage that this is not the exact recipe from Adrian Zumbo in case you thought otherwise. This is more of an inspired and simplified version. The recipes for the choux pastry and macarons are my go-to recipes from the “Secrets of Éclairs” and “Secrets of Macarons” which have always work for me.
The chouxmaca consists of five components- choux pastry, sable a choux, lemon curd cream, italian meringue and macaron.
Apparently, you can make the whole thing in half a day. Well, maybe, if you are Adrian Zumbo. But I’m no Adrian Zumbo, and I would also like to keep my stress level down and kitchen bench clean between each component. So I have spread out the prep work over a week.
I started with the lemon curd first so that I can reserve the egg whites to be aged for a couple of days before I use it to make the macarons. The lemon curd can keep up to 2 weeks.
On the second day, I made the choux pastry and sable a choux. To get the perfect size and shape for the choux pastry, I used a silicone cake pop mould for the job. First I piped the choux pastry into the mould, even it out with a spatula, cover the mould with plastic wrap, and put it in the freezer until it’s completely frozen. Both the unbaked choux pastry and sable a choux can keep up to 3 months in the freezer. Bake the choux pastry, from frozen, on the day when you are ready to assemble and serve the chouxmaca.
On the third day, I made the macaron shells with the aged egg whites. I recommend making the macarons at least 2 day before serving as the resting time will improve the texture of the macarons. The macaron shells can keep up to 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge.
On the day of serving, I baked the choux pastry and sable a choux, whipped the cream and lemon curd, and made the Italian meringue.
I think all the components really work well together. The sable a choux, which is like a thin layer of shortbread cookie, gives a nice crispiness to the choux pastry. The macaron on top adds crunch and slight chewiness to the whole thing. The lemon curd cream is creamy, sweet and tangy. And of course, you can never go wrong pairing the lemon curd cream with meringue.
There is no pretty way of eating chouxmaca. You just have to get in it. What I did was to squash everything down, lick off the meringue and lemon curd cream that oozes off the side, and then take a big bite into it.
(Inspired by Adrian Zumbo via Taste Magazine November 2013. Choux Pastry adapted from Secrets of Eclairs. Macaron Shells adapted from Secrets of Macarons.)
Makes about 20 chouxmaca
Lemon Curd Cream
4 egg yolks (Note: reserve egg whites for the macarons)
75 grams caster sugar
80ml lemon juice
40 grams butter
300 grams heavy cream
To make Lemon Curd Cream:
Combine ingredients in a small heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stir constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Cover surface with plastic wrap, refrigerate until cold.
During day of serving, weigh out 150g lemon curd. Whip heavy cream and lemon curd together until medium peaks form. Be careful not to overwhip.
Sable a Choux
80 grams butter, cut into small cubes, softened, at room temperature
80 grams brown sugar
80 grams plain flour
To make Sable a Choux:
Mash butter into the brown sugar with a spatula or the back of a spoon, until there are no more lumps of butter and the mixture has form a paste. (The butter will need to be soft for this to work.) Add flour and stir until just combine. Wrap the mixture with a plastic wrap, pat the mixture down to form a disk and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour). Roll dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to 2mm thick. Use a 4cm round cutter to cut into rounds. If the mixture is too soft to cut, place dough onto baking tray and refrigerate until firm.
Freeze the rounds of sable a choux until firm or ready to use.
70 grams unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
large pinch of salt
10 grams caster sugar
100 grams plain flour
120 grams (about 2 eggs) eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten (Note: You will need an additional egg if the pastry is too dry. See method below.)
To make Choux Pastry:
Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius fan-forced.
Place milk, water, butter, salt and sugar into a saucepan. Place pan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon until the butter has melted, and liquid has come to a boil. Allow liquid to boil for 2 seconds. Remove from heat and add the flour all at once. Start mixing until the mixture comes together and no more dry flour is visible.
Return saucepan over medium heat, stirring vigorously until the dough pull away from the side of the pan and bottom of the pan is clean.
Immediately transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric stand mixer with paddle attachment. Mix on medium for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Begin gradually incorporate the eggs into the mixture, about a tablespoon at a time, beating until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next. Once you have incorporate all the eggs, stop the mixer to check the consistency of the dough. Take some of the mixture with a spatula and lift it up. If the mixture adheres well to the spatula then drops off with a clean break after 5-10 seconds from the mixture still attached to the spatula, it's ready. If the mixture doesn't stick to the spatula and falls off without leaving any traces behind or doesn't fall off at all, gradually add more eggs, checking the consistency every 2 tablespoons. If the mixture immediately break off from the mixture still attached to the spatula without any pause, too much eggs has been added. If that is the case, nothing more can be done at this point except to start again.
Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round nozzle. Pipe twenty 4cm diameter rounds onto a tray lined with baking paper, leaving enough space between each round for the dough to expand without touching.
Place a round of sable a choux on top of each choux puff and bake until puffed and deep golden brown, about 45-60 minutes. Note: I hardly follow the recommended time, but just "eye ball" it through the oven glass door, checking on the choux pastry after 30 minutes and then every 10 minutes after until the choux pastry is deep golden brown. Resist opening the oven door before the choux pastry has time to puff up and become golden as this will cause the choux pastry to collapse.
Immediately once the choux pastry is out of the oven, gently slit a small hole on top of the choux pastry to allow steam to escape. Allow the choux pastry to cool completely before filling it with lemon curd cream.
200 grams almond meal
200 grams icing sugar
75 ml water
200 grams caster sugar
2 x 80 grams egg whites
Yellow food colouring
To make Macaron Shells:
200 grams caster sugar
80 grams egg whites
To make Italian Meringue:
In a small saucepan, bring water and caster sugar to boil without stirring. When the temperature of the syrup reaches 105 degrees celsius, start beating egg whites in an electric stand mixer on medium speed to soft peaks.
When the syrup reaches 115 degree celsius, remove the saucepan from heat. (Note: Make sure the temperature of the syrup doesn’t go above 115 degrees celcius. I usually remove the saucepan from the heat at 113-114 degrees celsius.). Increase the speed of the mixer, and pour the syrup in a thin stream, down the side of the bowl, into the egg whites. Decrease the speed of the mixer to medium, and continue to beat the meringue until it cools. It will take about 8-10 minutes. The meringue should be glossy and stiff peak form, and bottom of mixing bowl should be cool enough to touch.
Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
Cut a small 2cm hole off the top of the choux pastry. Run your finger inside to remove any bits of soft choux in the middle. Fill the choux pastry with lemon curd cream. Pipe italian meringue on top. Place a macaron shell on top.