June 2009


My macarons

{ Images :: some of my recent macaron creations }
Top row:  Lavender macarons, Champagne macarons, Liquorice macarons
Middle row: Blueberry macarons, Lemon macarons, Passionfruit macarons
Bottom row:  Pistachio macarons, Rose macarons with raspberry cream, Caramel macarons

GT July 2009There it was.  I felt legitimised.  For close to two years I have been obsessing about these petit French treats.  And finally there they were.  Boldly emblazoning the front cover of arguably the country’s finest food magazine, Gourmet Traveller.  I am talking about, of course, French macarons.

My family, friends and work colleagues have been subjected to a barrage of commentary relating to my trials and tribulations with the French macaron.  I have only come across a handful people in Australia who share a similar passion (read: obsession).  But the masses?  Many people (well, in Brisbane anyway), are unfamiliar with the French macaron.  Most connect the word macaron to the equally delicious, but considerably less tricky to make, coconut macaroon.

Does this front cover exposure mean French macarons could swiftly gain popularity here in Australia?  Could the French macaron rapidly become the new cupcake?  The cupcake is undeniably popular and continues to reign in many circles.  The surge in cupcake celebrity, however, has brought with it the inescapable poor, cheap imitation.

Is it inevitable that sub-standard macarons may start appearing across the country?  There is a risk.  But I am happy for the attention to be elevated on these little treats.  It would be a dream to have just fraction of the range and quality of macaron available here in Brisbane that equals Ladurée, Pierre Hermé and Gérald Mulot.  Could it happen?  We will see.

For now, I will continue to make my own.  Given my recent focus on macarons as favors for my upcoming wedding (and my obsession in general), I have been getting considerable more practice on my macaron recipe.  I thought I would put together some tips and hints for budding macaron aficionados who want to tackle these delicate little sweets for the first time.

{ French macarons :: My ‘how to’ }

Mini macsThe first time I made French macarons, I simply picked up a recipe and followed the instructions line by line. When the shells I produced did not mirror the accompanying photo in the cookbook, I was a little miffed. Since then I have made countless batches of macarons, I have fiddled with seemingly minor details to ‘perfect’ the recipe for me.  Looking back on that first recipe, I realise how much is not often explicitly explained.

{ Methods }

There are three methods of making macarons.

French :: Beaten egg whites (French meringue) added to almond mixture.
Spanish :: Beaten egg whites (with higher sugar content), added to almond mixture.
Italian ::  Cooked sugar added to egg whites (Italian meringue) added to almond mixture.

The most successful macarons I have made have been with the Italian method.  This is the most stable macaron recipe.  The focus of my tips and hints is around this version, though many of the techniques apply across all three versions.  (NB: all the images of my macarons featured above have been made using the Italian method.)

{ Standard macaron recipe }
Italian meringue method

* Ingredients *

100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g icing sugar
Food colour (optional)
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

* Directions *

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, add half the egg whites with the egg white powder.  Whip to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  At the final changes of whipping the meringue, add the food colouring (if using).  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes (depending on size).  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.  Refrigerate to set.

Depending on your size, the standard macaron recipe should make between 20-25 finished macarons – around 40-50 unfilled shells.

{ Tips on the ingredients }

1. The egg whites must be aged.  That means separating your eggs and leaving the egg whites uncovered at room temperature for 24-72 hours (preferable 72 hours) before using.  This provides an element of evaporation while still maintaining the protein level.
2. Egg white powder.  For extra insurance, I always use additional egg white powder to provide further stability. 
3. The almond meal ideally is allowed to dry at room temperature for up to one week prior to using.
4. The icing sugar must be pure 100% sugar.  No added starch.

{ Tips on the directions }

1. Pay careful attention to processing the almond meal and icing sugar (tant pour tant) together.  Do not over mix.  With the fat content of the almonds, too much processing can make the mixture oily.  Tip – add vanilla in tant pour tant to reduce oil leakage.
2. I begin to mix my egg whites (and egg white powder) in a stand mixer on medium speed just before I bring my water and sugar to the boil.  They need to come together at the same time.  The coordination is critical.  Do not stop mixing your egg whites if your sugar is not ready.  Turn the mixer down to the lowest speed until your sugar reaches temperature.
3. The temperature of your sugar and water is key.  Too low and the meringue will not be stable enough.  Too high and the meringue will be too stiff.  When the thermometer reaches 115C I turn it off.  By the time the saucepan reaches the stand mixer, it has continued cooking and reached 117C.  This is my magic number.
4. Incorporating all the final ingredients together is the trickiest part I have found.  Severely under mix and you get stiff, ugly, bumpy macaron shells.  Slightly under mix and you get dull but flat macarons.  Over mix and you get ill-shaped, cracked macarons with no feet.  Mix perfectly and you get a shiny shell with perfect little feet.  (Can you see how it is easy to become obsessed?)  It is sometimes hard to gauge, but practise does help.
5. I usually mix the first quarter of my Italian meringue in the almond mixture quite roughly.  This is mostly to break up the mixture.  The next additions are a little more careful.  The technique that works best for me is one that I learned at Savour.  Apparently you can tell if someone is mixing their macaron mixture correctly by the angle of their elbow!  Your elbow should be close to your body and moving back behind you as you work the mixture.  You need to lift the mixture away from you starting from the centre / middle of the bowl.  You need to make quarter turns each time.  Basically you are pulling up and dropping down the mixture each time.  You often hear that the mixture is ready when it ‘flows like magma’.  I do not know what that really means.  I look for a shine to the mixture.  I also test by lifting up a spoonful and seeing how it flattens out.  You want the mixture to flatten but still hold its shape a little.
6. Piping can be tricky.  I now pipe my macarons by eye.  They are not all 100% completely uniform, but they are close now.  When I first started, I needed a little guide.  I drew up a ‘circle template’ with a dark pen and put under the parchment paper I was using.  Believe me, when you are making 100 of these at a time, you do not want to draw 100 circles!  Once you are more confident, you will pipe with more ease.  I usually hold a piping bag directly over the baking tray and pipe out for a few seconds.  I pull the bag away quickly once I am done to diminish the likelihood of a peak.
7. The ideal way to pipe your macarons is to alternate the rows.  This helps airflow in the oven.  For example, pipe six macarons on the first row and then five macarons between the six on the second row etc.
8. You know when your macaron mixture is at the right consistency once you have piped.  When you pipe them out, they should have a slight peak.  However, this peak should slowly disappear to a smooth finish.  By the time you have finished piping one complete tray, the first few rows should be sitting perfectly.
9. I always tap the tray when I have finished piping.  This helps eliminate potential air bubbles.
10. Rest time can vary.  I usually leave my macarons about 30 minutes before baking.  But with a few batches, some are baked sooner, some are baker later.  The main thing is that there is a bit of a skin formed on the macaron before you put it in the oven.  Delicately touch the macaron.  If your finger does not leave a mark, then they are ready.
11. Always, always, always use double baking trays if you do not have professional grade.  If you do not double up, your macarons will burn too quickly.

{ Tips on experimentation }

1. You need to check your oven temperature.  If you do not have one already, buy an oven thermometer.  You may be surprised how different that temperature reads to the dial on the front.
2. Watch out for hot spots.  I have some in the back of my oven where it is extra hot.  You will need to test for your own.
3. Experiment baking macarons between 140-160C.  I have the best success at 140C but others equally so at a slightly higher temperature.  Each oven can be different.
4. Experiment with resting time.  I sometimes have success popping in a batch of macarons just after piping but also let others rest for 1-2 hours.
5. If you are using colour, note that this will fade ever so slightly in the oven. So if in doubt, add a little extra.
6. Humidity can cause havoc with macaron making.  Ideally make these tricky little treats on a dry day.  Well, your first time anyway!

I will endeavour to keep this updated as I test new recipes and techniques.  I have a new recipe that I am about to tackle.  Not sure if I should tempt fate, but I am too excited by the prospect of experimenting further.

To everyone that has left me comment in the past on one of my macaron posts saying they have never tried to make macarons, please give them a try.  I would love to see how you go.  Though be warned.  Once you start, it is hard to stop.  It is infectious.  Bonne chance!

{ Acknowledgements }

I need to acknowledge the following outstanding and accomplished chefs who have shared some of their secrets of macaron making with me.

Chef Patrick Leclercq :: Head Patisserie Chef @ Gérald Mulot, Paris
This man is responsible for creating many of the macaron flavours at Gérald Mulot.  Gérald Mulot is an institution in Paris.  I was fortunate to experience macaron making first hand in the 13th arrondissement boutique.  And with the aid of a translator (!) was able to glean considerable tips.

Chef Andreas Stossel :: Head Patisserie Teacher @ Southbank Institute of Technology, Brisbane
This Swiss trained Chef not only has given me valuable tips on pastry making, but also many tips and tricks to fuel my macaron obsession.

Chef Paul Kennedy :: Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School, Melbourne
A complete fountain of knowledge, Paul has explained, in depth, macaron making including the three key methods that are typically used.  My full day macaron class in Melbourne earlier this year truly solidified my obsession (yes, I would fly interstate to attend a macaron class!), and some outstanding questions.

I would also like to acknowledge some great web-based macaron references that I have also used in my macaron endeavours.  These references have been invaluable for me to gain understanding the real science behind the macaron.

Mercotte
This is a tremendously comprehensive reference to macaron making.  This English version provides a great overview of how to tackle these tricky little petit fours.

Tartelette
Helen not only provides easy to understand direction around her macaron making, but she always produces such imaginative creations.  Her enthusiasm for macaron making shines through.  A pleasure to read.

Syrup and Tang
Duncan’s detail on the different macaron methods is so inclusive and clear.  I found his step-by-step guides vastly helpful in understanding the technicalities of macaron making.

Lemonpi
And a special thank you to Y, at Lemonpi who has given me countless tips and encouragement throughout my macaron endeavours!

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Blueberry macarons

Blueberry was thrown into the suggestion box as a macaron flavour to trial for my upcoming wedding.  I am not sure if I have ever seen a blueberry macaron before.

Thinking about it now, a blueberry macaron would have been perfect to include during my recent Finnish baking month.  Berries feature strongly in Finnish baking – particularly blueberries.  I am still happy with my ‘Finnish inspired’ cardamom and coffee macarons, but a blueberry and cardamom macaron would have been a lovely complement, too.

This blueberry macaron is sans cardamom.  It consists of an almond macaron shell sandwiched together with a simple blueberry cream.  I am fond of the colour of these macarons.  Though I must admit, I think I need to purchase food colour powder as I sometimes find it difficult to reach the exact colour I want with liquids.

I will be shortly testing a new macaron recipe, but for now, the last few macaron trials have been with my ongoing tried and tested version.

{ Blueberry macarons }

* Ingredients *

100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g icing sugar
Red and blue food colouring
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

* Directions *

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, whip half the egg whites to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  At the final changes of whipping the meringue, add the food colouring to make a purple colour.  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.
Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes.  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.  Refrigerate to set.

{ Blueberry cream }

* Ingredients *

120g white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
½ cup blueberries

* Directions *

Heat cream and blueberries until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Let cool and rest for about an hour.  Gently puree the berry and cream mixture.  Reheat the cream gently and pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir.  Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken.

Raspberry Cream

Sometimes I get the urge to bake something simple.  Mostly because I really want to bake but do not have the time for something overly elaborate.  I think these homemade cookies fall into that category.  They are lovely and simple, but not too complicated.

I have been thinking about different creams, ganaches and fillings for the array of macarons I am currently making.  I was then reminded of this recipe that I have wanted to make for a while.  The filling is very similar to the Rose Macarons with Raspberry Cream that I made a few months back.

It is nice to have a break from macaron making.  Well, while the egg whites are aging, anyway!

{ Raspberry Cream Cookies }
Adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies

* Ingredients *

1 3/4 cups all-purpose / plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks or 150g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
6 ounces or 180g fresh raspberries
7 1/2 ounces or 225g best-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
 
* Directions *

Preheat oven to 180F or 350F. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Mix butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg, extract, and vanilla seeds; mix until smooth. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture.
Scoop batter using an ice cream scoop; space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake cookies 4 minutes. Remove from oven; gently tap baking sheets on counter to flatten cookies. Return to oven, switching positions of sheets; bake until cookies are just set, 4 to 6 minutes more. Let cool on parchment on wire racks.
Puree raspberries and remaining 2 teaspoons sugar in a food processor. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a small bowl, pressing to extract juice; discard seeds. Set mixture aside.
Melt white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat; whisk in cream in a slow stream. Whisk in reserved raspberry mixture. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Spread 1 heaping teaspoon raspberry cream on the undersides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies. Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Makes 3 dozen

Bakewell Tart

I was quite pleased when I saw the Daring Bakers challenge this month.  I have very British parents and, despite also having lived in London myself  for a few years, am quite familiar with the Bakewell Tart.  I knew one taste would bring with it some happy memories and a warm sense of nostalgia.

On a practical note, I was also delighted to be making short crust pastry (after quite an absence, I must say).  Every time I make pastry, I vow never to wait so long next time.   So here was my chance.

The tart is very easy to make.  It is essentially a very simple sweet short crust pastry, topped with jam and then a deliciously rich frangipane (almond paste).  I made this tart with blackberry jam, but would love to experiment further.  Perhaps create little individual tarts next time that showcase a variety of flavours.

I will definitely make this again.  It is so simple, and for me, full of lovely memories.

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

{ Bakewell Tart }

Place the chilled dough disc (recipe below) on a lightly floured surface. If it is overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.  Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane (recipe below), spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.  The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.  When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

{ Sweet shortcrust pastry }

* Ingredients *

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

* Directions *

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.  Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.  Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

{ Frangipane }

* Ingredients *

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

* Directions *

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)

Liquorice macarons

You know those flavours that you either love or hate?  Well, I think liquorice is one of them.  I fall in the former camp.  I am a liquorice fan through and through.

As a child, I remember my mother carefully guarding an occasional box of Bassett’s liquorice allsorts that she would buy from the (unfortunately now non-existent) food hall at David Jones here in Brisbane city.

I was not setting out to create a liquorice flavoured macaron.  My initial list for the wedding favor trials consists of champagne, blueberry, matcha and lime-basil.  But after a hiccup or two, an opportunity presented itself.  Yet another batch of macarons. 

Being a liquorice lover, I have some liquorice flavoured tea in the pantry.  I was staring at the tea and had a flashback to some Earl Grey truffles I made last Christmas.  With a batch of light blue coloured macaron shells just screaming for some filling, I knew what I had to make.

After gently warming some cream, I added a couple of tablespoons of the liquorice tea.  I left that infuse then strained well.  I then proceeded to make a dark chocolate ganache.  The resulting flavour is noticeably liquorice-y but subtle.  It has a refreshing finish that marries perfectly with the cool blue shell.

I am not sure if these will make it to the wedding (the Champagne macarons are currently top of the list!), but I have enjoyed making and tasting them nonetheless.

For the shells, I used my standard macaron recipe, but I hope to actually trial a new version very soon!

{ Liquorice macarons }

* Ingredients *

100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g icing sugar
Blue food colouring
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

* Directions *

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, whip half the egg whites to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  At the final changes of whipping the meringue, add the food colouring.  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes.  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.  Refrigerate to set.

{ Liquorice cream }

* Ingredients *

120g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons liquorice tea

* Directions *

Heat cream and tea until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Let cool and rest for about an hour.  Strain the tea from the cream.  Reheat the cream gently and pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir.  Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken.

Lemon glazed madeleines

The lovely Gine at i dolci fammo felici recently posted some adorable madeleines.  I was instantly reminded of the fluffy, buttery shell shaped cakes I tasted in Paris last year at Fauchon

A few months back I did bake some chocolate madeleines, but Gine’s post reminded me I still needed to tackle the more traditional lemon.  Madeleines are my favourite sweet petit French treat – behind macarons, of course!

The recipe is courtesy of David Lebovitz.  I followed it to the letter and was easily able to produce some tasty little shelly treats.  The simplicity and elegance of these little cakes is just so charming.  I will certainly be making more!

{ Lemon Glazed Madeleines }
Adapted from The Sweet Life In Paris by David Lebovitz

* Ingredients *

Batter:
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (175g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
zest of one small lemon
9 tablespoons (120g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds

Icing:
3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

* Directions *

1. Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer.
2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened.
3. Spoon the flour and baking powder, if using, into a sifter or mesh strainer and use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter. (Rest the bowl on a damp towel to help steady it for you.)
4. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter, then dribble the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.
5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours.)
6. To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
7. Plop enough batter in the center of each indentation with enough batter which you think will fill it by 3/4’s (you’ll have to eyeball it, but it’s not brain-surgery so don’t worry if you’re not exact.) Do not spread it.
8. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. While the cakes are baking, make a glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.
9. Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake in the glaze, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated and scrape off any excess with a dull knife. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.
Storage: Glazed madeleines are best left uncovered, or not tightly-wrapped; they’re best eaten the day they’re made. They can be kept in a container for up to three days after baking, if necessary. I don’t recommend freezing them since the glaze will melt.

Makes 24 cookies

Champagne macarons

About a month ago I mentioned I was getting married soon.  And for the wedding, I wanted to make some macaron favors.  I was so overwhelmed by the lovely suggestions, so much in fact I did not know where to begin my trials.

But given it is a wedding, there was one very obvious starting point.  Champagne macarons.

The lovely Kerrin at MyKugelhopf made this particular suggestion.

I was not quite sure how to inject the Champagne flavour into this macaron initially.  But I quickly decided the flavour needed to go into the filling.  I was not prepared to experiment with the basic macaron shell that I can almost bake without too many hiccups.

I had a little look around for ‘Champagne Cream’ recipes but only really came across the savoury variety.  I then remembered my impromptu filling for my lavender macarons – lavender infused cream mixed into white chocolate.  I essentially copied the same idea here.

Overall, the flavour is subtle.  The champagne is not too overbearing.  The colour is also lovely being so neutral.  Verdict?  They are definitely on the short-list for the big day!

{ Champagne macarons }

* Ingredients *

100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g icing sugar
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

* Directions *

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, whip half the egg whites to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Dust lightly with icing sugar.  Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes.  Fill with Champagne cream.  Refrigerate to set.

{ Champagne cream }

* Ingredients *

120g white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
¼ cup Champagne (sparkling wine)

* Directions *

Heat cream and Champagne until bubbles slowly form around the edge of the pan.  Let cool and rest for about an hour.  Reheat the cream gently and pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir.  Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken.

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