Archive for the ‘Macarons’ Category

Mad about New Macaron Flavours

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

               Jasmine and Olive Oil Vanilla Macs

With less than a month before I go back to work full-time (this was back in Oct, so this post is really late), it was time to get all the baking in that I could.

WL and C came over to bake macarons (what else?) from the PH book. WL wanted to make the jasmine and olive oil with vanilla flavoured ones. These are two flavours that I’d probably never have tried, but I was happy to give them a shot, especially since I knew that WL had been wanting to make the olive oil flavoured ones for a long time now.

               Olive Oil Vanilla Macarons

I was worried that the olive oil ganache would break since the recipe called for a large amount of olive oil to be emulsified into the ganache, but nothing really exciting happened. We did have to re-emulsify the ganache after we placed it into the fridge to cool to a pipeable consistency, but it wasn’t difficult.

The only thing I would have changed was the olive oil that we used. WL had brought a strong, flavourful oilve oil, which turned out to be more grassy than fruity, resulting in a ganache that tasted very strongly of olive oil with no vanilla flavour at all.

Interestingly, most people who tried the olive oil macarons actually LIKED them A LOT, despite the distinctly grassy flavour. I’ve since come across an Australian olive oil in the supermarket that sounds like a potential candidate based on the description on the bottle, but can’t bring myself to make this flavour again so soon.

               Jasmine and Olive Oil Vanilla Macs

The jasmine flavoured macarons were not particularly exciting. WL felt that compared to the one she had tried in Paris the macacrons we made weren’t as strongly flavoured and that the flavour would fade really quickly.

She also thought that the addition of a jasmine essence (which we didn’t have and is mentioned in the book, but not included in the recipe) would make a huge difference. I actually thought that the flavour wasn’t particularly weak and I could still make out the jasmine even after 2 days, although it was admittedly less obvious than on the day that we had made the macarons.

               Montebello Macarons

Still driven by the fact that it wouldn’t be long before I would literally have no time to bake, I flipped through the book for more non-chocolate flavors to try. I was immediately drawn to the vibrantly colored shells of the Montebello macarons, which is a flavor with pistachio ganache filling and a raspberry jelly center.

               Montebello Macarons

The batter for the Montebello was more fluid than the other macarons that I’d made from the book and I could make out a very faint salty aftertaste due to the amount of coloring I had to add to make the brightly colored shells. The flavor was otherwise fantastic. Who would have thought that pistachio and raspberries would make such a great combination? I was also pleasantly surprised that the small amount of pistachios I used could impart such great flavour. I’ll definitely be making these again.

               Hazelnut Praline Macarons

The other flavour I chose to make was the Pietra macarons. I didn’t have Piedmont hazelnuts (I don’t know if they are available here) and used regular supermarket ones.

The brittle was easy enough to make (ok, so I did end up with a small sugar burn, but mainly because I used too small a pot for the hazelnuts and sugar), but the crushing part wasn’t. The instructions in the book said to finely crush the hazelnut brittle, but didn’t say how. I did consider using a blender, but thought that the brittle would just turn into paste. I ended up putting the brittle in Ziploc bags and smashing them with a rolling pin. Not the best method, since the hard brittle made many small holes in the bags, leaving bits of caramelised hazelnut all over my kitchen counter.

Hazelnut Praline Macarons

The buttercream was pretty standard, only redeemed by the crunchy bits of praline. Sadly, the crunchiness didn’t last beyond 3 days in the fridge. I also felt that the overall flavour was pretty one dimensional unlike the Montebello ones. I’m unlikely to make these again, except maybe for someone who LOVES hazelnuts.

Mad about Plaisir Sucré Macarons

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

              Plaisir Sucré Macarons

The PH Macaron book has finally been published in ENGLISH last month after years of speculation about when it’d actually hit the shelves. This gave me the push I needed to try another recipe from my French copy of the book.

When I told H that I’d finally be baking macarons again, he immediately said, “I only like the chocolate ones!” So I decided to go with the Plasir Sucré macaron. Okay, so he doesn’t really like milk chocolate, but hey, at least it’s chocolate and there’s coffee (which H loves) in the shells!

Plaisir Sucré Macarons

I honestly thought that this particular recipe would be fairly simple to follow. But the fillings turned out to be really annoying to make.

First up, the hazelnut praline centre. The recipe said to “pour” the mixture into a gratin dish and leave to set in the fridge/freezer, but there was nothing pourable about the chocolate-nut mass I ended up with. I had to press the mixture into the dish and when I tried to unmold it from the dish, it wouldn’t budge a millimetre. To make a long story short, I ended up with many broken bits of praline and a very messy, chocolatey counter top.

Next, the milk chocolate ganache. This took more than 3 hours in the freezer to take on a even remotely “scoop-able” consistency. It was close to midnight and I had no idea if the ganache would firm up further, so I added more melted milk chocolate and the ganache quickly thickened up to a pipeable consistency. I’d definitely recommend making the milk ganache a day ahead.

Plaisir Sucré Macarons

The shells still turned out crispier compared to my usual macaron recipe. I was a little surprised by this since I’d already reduced the baking time and baking temperature, given my previous experience with his Macaron au Chocolate Amer recipe.

The crispy shells meant that the 24 hour maturing and 2 hour thawing time recommended in the book could not be ignored. This is the one thing that I dislike about the PH macaron recipes. I mean, who wants to wait an entire day and then some more to sink their teeth into something that already took more than half a day to make?

Macaron

So were the macarons worth the wait? Absolutely! I prefer the Chocolat Amer ones, but these were wonderful too. I especially liked the crunch of the hazelnut praline centre and the distinct taste of the hazelnuts. I was slightly disappointed that the Gavottes on the shells weren’t crispy anymore, but I’d already expected that given the humidity and the thawing time.

If you’re looking to purchase the English version of the book, I’m afraid that it’s already entirely sold out on Amazon and being offered at ridiculously high prices by resellers. You probably have a much better chance tracking the book down at your local book store, which is exactly what I did.

I’m ending this post with photographs of some other things I’d baked in the past 6 months and didn’t have time to blog about. Fingers crossed that my next post will be much sooner!

Strawberry Cheesecake

              Strawberry Cheesecake

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

              Triple chocolate mousse cake

Roasted Bell Peppers Pizza with Sheep’s Milk Feta Cheese

              Homemade Pizza

Mad about Macaron au Chocolate Amer

Monday, February 14th, 2011

              Macarons Au Chocolat Amer

It’s Valentine’s Day and I should really be posting something that has to do with roses or something pink, but this post is one about really dark chocolate, which I guess is still in line with the theme of the day.

When I learned about Pierre Hermé’s Macaron book near the end of 2009, it had long been sold out and no copies of the book could be found online for purchase. The other thing that held me back from going on an all out search for the book was that it was written in French. My french is really only limited to food ingredients and a few basic phrases, so I dropped the idea of getting the book.

Macarons Au Chocolat Amer

It was only recently, having sampled PH’s macarons from Paris and Tokyo (thanks to the generosity of family and a good friend), that I began to wonder if I could accurately reproduce the same flavours at home. The book immediately came to mind and I went on a hunt for the book, which I have to say is a most fantastic read. Each flavour combination sounds like a dream, except maybe the ketchup one. I feel compelled to bake my way through the book, Julie & Julia style!

Long before I’d received the book, I already knew that the first recipe I’d try from the book would be the chocolate shells which incorporate 100% cacao chocolate, reportedly one of the more difficult shells to master. There are several flavours in the book that use chocolate shells and I went with the Macaron au Chocolat Amer.

              Macarons Au Chocolat Amer

The next task was to find 100% cacao chocolate in Singapore. Following some leads from friends and a little googling, I finally located 100% cacao chocolate at Jones the Grocer. (I’ve been told that Cold Storage carries 100% cacao baking chocolate from Hershey’s).

I followed the recipe and instructions with some hesitation for 2 reasons. First, the batter was really thick and my hands ached from the macaronage, even though I’d made only 1/2 the recipe. Second, the instructions called for baking with the convection fan setting and opening the oven twice during the baking process. Really?? Wouldn’t the macarons end up overbaked and wouldn’t the feet sink if I opened the oven? I forged on.

Chomped

To my amazement, the shells were perfect in form (even with a power trip during the baking of the second batch!) Texture-wise, the shells were thin without a single dreaded air pocket in sight. The only thing was that the shells were a little crisp compared to what I usually get with my regular recipe. I filled them, keeping my fingers crossed that the shells would soften after 24 hours in the fridge, something I’ve not had to do normally.

Happily, the macarons came out perfect after the maturing process. The best part is that it’s been a week and the macarons are still good in the fridge, if not better. I’m hoping that this successful attempt was not a matter of beginner’s luck and am looking forward to trying out the next flavour!

Note: I have an extra copy of Pierre Hermé’s Macaron (brand new, in French only) for sale. Please email me if you’re interested. I will not publish any comments related to enquiries about the book. *SOLD*