Macaron Madness: Pistachio, fig and rose

Making ice cream and creme patissiere means one has a tonne of egg whites left over. Those lonely egg whites, sitting in my fridge were begging to be made into something amazing. I tried to resist the macaron lure, but it was futile. There were pistachios in my cupboard, and over 1 kg of figs so I decided to take a risk and sub half of the almond meal for pistachio meal. I was prepared for failure, and was more than pleasantly surprised with the results. Sure I got a few cracked shells but no more than usual, so the substitution held up well. But more than that, the intensity of the pistachio flavour was incredible. and paired with caramel fig compote ringed with either cream cheese icing or rosewater icing, they have become one of my favourites yet!

IMG_2412Prop find: new cute little cake plates with landmarks from around the world. They match beautifully with my mini teacup set. And teacup= tea. Midmorning tea must be T2’s strawberries and cream. This morning has been quite heavenly so far. Anyway, go make these and brew a cup of your favourite tea. It’s Friday aIMG_2416fter all!

Pistachio Macarons

60g ground pistachios

60g almond meal

120g icing sugar

120g sugar

34g water

100g egg whites

dash of green colouring

Sift the pistachio, almond meal and icing sugar into a large bowl. Put 50g egg white onto of this. Set aside.

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to 118˚C (softball) on a stove.

When the sugar syrup reaches 105˚C start whisking the remaining egg white in a stand mixer, until foaming.

Once the sugar syrup is at 118˚C slowly stream it into the egg whites down the side of the bowl while the mixer is on low/medium. Increase speed and whisk until cool.

Fold the meringue into your dry ingredients in 2 batches, adding the colouring as you do. When combined and the mixtures falls like a ribbon from your spoon, it is ready to be piped.

Pipe circles onto baking sheets lined with baking paper. Bang the sheets down a couple of times to remove air bubbles.

Allow to rest for 45 minutes

Bake for 15-18 minutes at 150˚C.

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Fig Compote

10 figs, chopped into quarters

200g sugar

2 tbs water

1 tbsp butter

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a light caramel colour.

Add the butter and the figs and stir until completely combined.

Icing

250g sifted icing sugar

50g butter

75g cream cheese

1 tsp rosewater

pink colouring

Beat butter until pale and fluffy (2 minutes).

Add 125g icing sugar and the cream cheese and beat on low until combined.

Add the remaining icing sugar and beat on high until fluffy

Remove half to icing and place in a piping bag.

Add the rosewater and colouring to the remaining icing and mix until combined. Place in a piping bag.

Pipe on the edge of the macron like the picture below and place a little compote in the centre before sandwiching with another shell

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Mastering Macarons

Macarons have become a fashion item, the new fad, much like the cupcake before them. And really, its easy to see why: with their sleek shiny shells and contrasting feet, filled with enticing glossy ganache, their versatility and chicness makes them akin to a well proportioned dome atop a cathedral or as simple as a smooth pebble on a beach. Deceptively simple in appearance, these devil cookies have thrown my kitchen into hell and tormented my family to the point that ‘macaron’ is a swear word in my house and I have taken to my experiments only when everyone else is out, giving me time to compose my self after any particularly trying batches.

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Now, I have perfected italian meringue buttercream,become a connoisseur of caramel and even piped a Valentine box out of royal icing, therefore when I first decided to tackle macaroons, I expected a batch of the most marvellous macarons i have ever seen. Not the case; failure, time and time again. too runny, too flat, no feet, cracked shell, too brown, too high or too dull. I tried recipe after recipe, read troubleshooting, aged egg whites, shifted almonds, Youtubed macaronage and babied my oven. Again and again, i was not satisfied. Macarons were my downfall it seemed.

I could not and would not let a cookie, a little blob of egg whites and almond, defeat me. So this morning i took to the kitchen again. I had a bowl of egg white that had been in the fridge for 2 days, so sufficiently aged. With a silent prayer to the macaron gods, I dived in, for what i swore would be the final time. Unless i failed….

Recipe
100g egg whites (aged for 2 days)
60g caster sugar
110g almond meal
200g icing sugar

Combine icing sugar and almond meal in a food processor, then sift into a bowl. Beat the egg whites, starting to add the sugar when they are foaming into soft peaks. Beat until stiff (I always used the trusty bowl over the head trick). add half the dry mix to the meringue and fold and ‘macaronage’ until combined. Add the other half and repeat. Be gentle but make sure everything is incorporated and shiny without bubbles. Pipe the mix onto doubled baking sheets lined with greased baking paper. allow to sit for 20-40 minutes. Bake in the oven at 140˚ for 13 minutes or until they come off the paper cleanly. allow to cool and sandwich with your choice of ganache or buttercream. I used a dark chocolate coffee ganache and a white chocolate orange ganache.IMG_7525

If they turn out well, enjoy the food porn, because really, a macaron that doesn’t look like a masterpiece of baking, is not really doing its job.

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