Friday, February 25, 2011

more flavors.

So I've been busy working on new flavours. I wish my macarons look better as they taste! You can't really see it from here but they are slightly deformed on the top. I don't know why when I bake them, some of them depress very slightly in the centre, almost like a tyre going out of air. Could I be I didn't age my egg whites enough? (I use 24 hour aged ones). Anyway deformed or not, they still taste great.
Green - White Chocolate ganache infused with screwpine leaf (pandan). We are lucky we have pandan leaves growing wild in our backyard. everytime I need some, I just go out and cut some.
Yellow - hazelnut shell with dark chocolate and nutella ganache. I can eat dozen of this flavour combination. I simply adore hazelnuts!
Pink - It's hard to find passionfruit in Brunei but luckily, I saw some in the supermarket a few months ago. I immediately juiced and froze it. I've been meaning to try the popular milk chocolate-passionfruit combo I'd seen in blogosphere. I'm lucky to have tasted pierre herme's mogador macaron before but it was the only combo that didn't work for me. I found passionfruit goes really weird with milk chocolate, maybe white chocolate would be better? I know of others who love it though so maybe it's just me..
Brown - Chocolate Macarons with Milk Chocolate and Chilli Ganache.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The accidental macaron and thoughts.

Salted Butter Caramel Macarons

Macarons with Rose Buttercream

It was all an accident. While making some macarons one day, I couldn't find the low, circular metal stand I use to place the baking sheet on in the oven. So I used a higher stand and guess what? The hollow problem was gone!
All this while, I'd been wondering what the air pocket in my macarons were due to. How could it be after whipping up hundreds of batches, I've never once got a perfect batch? I had sifted, measured and folded everything correctly - surely the mistake couldn't be on my part. It all came down to this: The position of the tray in the oven. Using a higher or lower rack to bake your macarons will definitely have an effect on the macarons. Here are a couple of other tips that helped (for me). I can't comment on every factor out there but if anyone had the same problems like I did, I hope what I'd experienced will be of some help.

(1) I bake my macarons at 150 C for 18 min. Every oven has its own idiosyncracies so you have to find what temperature works for you. A friend of mine used 170 C but for my oven, it burns the macarons after just a few minutes. I cover the above rack with aluminium foil to prevent the colour of the macarons from fading. This is a must for me.

(2) I always do my macarons in an air-conditioned room (living in a tropical clime). I've found that without it, the macarons do not dry and form skins even when placed under a fan. I've had macarons 'drying' for one entire day under a fan and yet they still cracked when placed in the oven, because the humidity in the air affected with the ability to form skins. The drying time is again, individual, but in my case it takes 45 min to an hour before I pop them into the oven with confidence they will not crack. For me, resting for the macarons to dry out is very important - it will ensure crack free macarons.

(3) Lopsided macarons (when they decide to put on sun hats) are due to leaving them to dry out for far too long. I get lopsided macarons when I leave them to crust over for more than 4 hours.

(4) When the feet of your macaron splay out, it is not aesthetically ideal. You have to lower your oven temperature.

(5) If you have any problems with hollows, you may (1) rap the pan sharply on the table a few times after piping the shells to remove air bubbles, then prick them with a pick (2) adjust your temperature or (3) adjust position of pan in the oven. Also, an undercooked macaron will definitely be hollow. I find there is a very fine line between being slightly undercooked and just done.

(5) After being filled, macarons must be rested in the fridge for at least 24 to 48 hours, and then brought to room temperature 2 hours before eating. This is extremely important. Newly filled macarons taste dreadful because they are too crisp. Once the shell absorbs the moisture from the filling - the transformation will make the macaron snap delicately like an egg shell upon bitin,g into a moist and tender interior.

(6) I'm using French meringue because I find it yields a more tender and melt-in-your-mouth macaron. I have not much success with italian meringue (my shells always end up crunchy even after maturation) but I will keep practicing the technique more in future.

Review: The salted butter caramel is incredibly rich and to die for. I much prefer this over say a caramel buttercream because I feel the former has a more decadent flavour and as for the rose, - as I've mentioned before I'm not a big fan of buttercream but somehow this seems to work - the sensous feel of the rose perfumed buttercream absolutely melts in the mouth :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

on croissant making.

Brushing egg wash on the shaped croissants.

Layers of laminated dough in the pain au chocolat.

This is my third attempt on making croissants and it seems I shaped the dough better this time. I remember my 1st attempt on croissant making was a complete disaster. Making the croissant pastry is akin to making puff pastry and involves rolling a slab of butter into a yeasted dough, folding it in thirds, rolling out, rotate, do another turn and in between you chill the mixture 4 times. It was a disaster because I was working in a warm environment and the butter kept oozing out of the dough until the whole thing disintegrated in a gloppy mess. Moral of the story: Work in an cir-conditioned room and keep on dusting your workplace and your hands generously with flour. If you do get leaks, simply patch it up with a bit of flour.
Anyway, after 3 times - I quite enjoy making them now. They are not too difficult to make but making it is a fairly intensive process - you need at least a full day. The positive thing is that the end product tastes so much better than the ones in the freezer section of the supermarket. Flaky, buttery and moist insides - what's not to love?

Friday, February 4, 2011

in the mood for pecan pie.

A pecan pie is the quintessential American classic. However, the first time I tried the recipe, my teeth almost fell out. I like sweet things but this was wayyyyyyyy so sweet that my pulp cavities were tingling. A few adjustments later, I've reduced the sweetness level to acceptable for me. And not being a fan of deep dish monster pies, I did individual tartelettes. The following recipe does enough to fill six 8 cm tart rings or a shallow 9 inch tart pan. The crisp shortcrust, the buttery pecans, the gooey caramel filling - can you say heaven?

6 pre-baked tart shells (use your favorite shortcrust pastry)
2/3 cup golden or corn syrup.
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs.
1 and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.
2 tbsp melted butter.

1. Melt the butter and let cool.
2. Whisk the sugar lightly with the eggs, add in the syrup and whisk.
3. Whisk in the melted butter.
4. Toss in the pecans and stir.
5. Spoon mixture into the tart shells.
6. Bake at 160 C for 18 minutes till filling has puffed up and set.