Friday, July 31, 2009

Le Haricot Rouge avec Litchi

Red bean, my favorite beans over all the asian-beans, green beans, black beans and soy bean. Originating from China with a Japanese-inspired name of Azuki bean paste, this particular bean is delicious as a sweet soup or as fillings in mochi cakes and breads. My mom makes a good red bean soup just like below which you can find the recipe here. After getting rave reviews from my black sesame macarons, I thought perhaps I should try all the beans out there. Of course in a perfect world I would boil raw red beans and mashed them so they become a paste or I could get a packet of red bean powder from my local Asian supermarket and mix it with hot water. I'll let you decide...

Now...lychee? Why Lychee? well as you know red bean soup with lychee fruits mix together is pretty delicious, and I was afraid of my macarons turning into a mochi-cake with pure red bean paste so I think it's a good pairing having some lychees in the ganache. My brother could not taste the lychee though so perhaps I should make two different flavours next time. I've experimenting with pink colours for awhile and after seeing the red bean sandwiched between my macarons, they kinda looked too candy-candy.

Well I'm off to a birthday party tonight and is bringing a few boxes of macarons for after-dessert-dessert. Okay I might be off for a couple of days, going to Sydney til Wednesday for some catching up with families there, and in between I have to go to Lindt to check out their macarons! have a great weekend ahead!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

L'amour de Pêche Macaron

Yes it's been a few days since my last macaron post, but I've come back with a big bang! let me introduce to you my latest macaron, the peach love or in seductive french...l'amour de pêche macaron. Peachy, sweet & sour with a citrus after-taste and just beautiful montage. I am so proud of these, and I must thank Lilo from cuisine-campagne for this great great recipe. The recipe calls for a french method macaron, and I substitute that with my Italian method that I have been using since I started. Some macarons in the website has Italian method macaron, but I think if any of you are using home ovens, Italian (sucre cuit) method makes more stable macs. I did follow the peach jelly recipe and it turned out great.

Macaron with a peachy montage*
70g almond flour
67g powdered sugar

50g egg whites
67g caster sugar
16g water

For the peach montage, I brushed a light pink-peach powder dust over the macaron using a small thin brush. Only brushed at the edges and don't overdo it. Ta-da...a peach-looking macaron!

The step-by-step instruction is from Syrup & Tang's. By adding 3g more of almond flour (70g) my macarons turned out shinier, more chewy and has better feet. Again I think it all comes down to your oven at home, the temperature correction (my oven is way hotter than others I think) and I also reduced the heat to 135-140c and increasing the baking to 14-15minutes.

I am over the moon with cuisine-campagne website, it has great macaron recipes and the photos will blow your imagination! especially the one with the green apple montage. It is in french but it is easily translated in google translation service. Find macaron recipes in french google and the results are pretty original. My brother thinks that the peach jelly is slightly too pureed, but my mom loves it because she loves anything fruity. I am still sticking to Italian method even though I found a LOT of macaron bloggers using french method, I'm still intimidated since failing each time. I am still thinking about taking another macaron course at Savour School for three hourse instead of the full-day I took a few months ago, cos I need to ask more questions and find out why I kept failing at french method. We'll see...

Life in Melbourne is still good, we are moving house next month and everyone is pretty excited. It's a lovely house, has a homey ambiance like a small cottage. Has a bigger lawn so dog can run around, he loves sleeping though and sunbathing definitely.

oh Max, Max come and look! Max...Max...MAXXXX!!! he loves curling up and napping. And eating 24/7. But he's a good dog.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Le Pistache

The is definitely a hit or miss with this one. I've made two different fillings so far, one pistachio buttercream and the latest one, pistachio paste with a higher pistachio percentage and melted white chocolate. Aesthetically, I loved the idea of a pistachio jelly, but has not found a great recipe just yet, when I meant pistachio jelly, I meant biting into a salted caramel filling but with a pistachio taste. See if I mix pistachio with a caramelised sugar then it would be too sweet and strange of a flavour. What I like with this latest filling recipe is that the white chocolate has tiny pieces of nuts so when I melt it, the nuts are left behind and has a crunchy texture to it however the only slight problem is that it doesn't look that nice with white brown bits sticking out of the macaron.

This is Ladurée pistachio macaron from here. As you can see, their macarons are pretty dense and a lot thinner than Pierre Herme's macarons in general.

PH pistachio macaron with preserved cherry stuck inside. Wow, what a combination. You can see the full post of his macarons here.

My quest for le pistache is not over yet. Perhaps I should be more daring and stuck a chestnut inside? or lychee? Time to ponder away.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

L'équivoque, the ambiguous

(the ambiguous café macaron w caramel date ganache)

Morning macaron fans, lovers and followers like moi!

Today is I present to you...L'équivoque, the ambiguous macaron with slightly ash-violet colour, all natural, with a mix of hazelnut and almond flour (17g and 50g), flavoured with a dust of vanilla bean and a nutty dark filling of coffee and date. Can't seem to make up your mind, well choose the ambiguous, let your senses guide you to the next flavour...

L'équivoque, sitting pretty next to pink vanilla macaron.

What a lovely day to start a Saturday morning, don't want to have them straight for breakfast right? No, I would not think so.

A good friend and a great baker messaged me yesterday and gave me this quote:

"A moment of bliss in the mouth, forever on the hips"

So everything in moderation and enjoy them in every moment.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pink Vanilla Macaron

Le Pastel with caramel buttercream

So tomorrow there is this church gathering at my pastor's place and I promised the organizer that I would bring my macaron as an-after dessert 'dessert'. It's only been three weeks since I started baking them, and I think it's time for my little babies to be introduced to the world. I know 21 days is a very short time but it has taken me about 15 batches and so I can confidently say that I know how to bake a beginner...Ok I have been saying that for quite awhile now...I am still following step by step recipes in how to make fillings from creams, egg whites... butter..sugar...well coming from someone who hardly every cooks let along bake pretty little things...Gosh what a difference it makes when I skip a step or thinks I know better...NOT...

I followed the recipe for the caramel buttercream from Julia@Melanger but I also added about 100g of white chocolate into the hot cream mixture. Let it sit for a minute and they just easily stir away. I thought the pink colour is not too strong, quite a nice one don't you think? I made a dark chocolate ganache before and had it filled between my macarons and they looked horrible! pink and dark brown does not go matter how good they taste.

With the second batch, I made the caramel buttercream again and when it has slightly cooled, I added about five teaspoon of dark bitter coffee. I notice the texture is creamier and you get spicy tang in the air. The macaron baking is slightly better, their feet is still getting burnt too fast, I've lowered the temperature at the last six minutes and found out it was too early so some of the tops flattened out. I've added more baking trays under it but still didn't improve. So next time, off they go to the middle rack and stacked with heaps more of trays... :)

Oh brother is arriving shortly at the airport now...I'm such a lazy sister, I slept...while my parents go and pick him up. Well blame it on the macaron, I was baking til 10...and did a macaron facebook group til 1ish. Come check it out at

happy macaron day!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

La Cerise Macaron

Cherry Macaron with Dark Chocolate ganache (with cherry bits)

I call it
La Cerise

*Macaron Shell
67g almond meal (ground to fine powder in food processor)
67g icing sugar (pure sugar, no starch) mix with the almond meal

50g egg whites (cleared and at least 24hr old)
67g caster sugar
16g water

Mix almond powder and icing sugar (called Tant Pour Tant) and sift into a big bowl. Halved the egg white, pour in 25g egg white into the TPT and mix to make a shiny goey paste (I used a wooden spatula). You can add the colouring now and flavours like vanilla bean. Takes about 4 minutes to make into a paste. Put aside.

Start whisking the egg whites in medium speed, after about 20 seconds boil the water and sugar. When the egg whites turned foamy and has bits of peaks, the sugar syrup should be around 110c, when the temp reached 116c, stop the heat and slowly pour the hot syrup into the sides of the bowl (use glass Pyrex bowl!) with the egg whites. Whisked in high speed until all the syrup is inside and whisked until it turned stiff and shiny (this mixture is called an Italian meringue (hence the Italian Method). When you lift the electric whisker, the ends of the meringue should fold down. Takes me about four more minutes to create a stiff meringue after all the syrup is in the bowl.

In two additions (if you are using less quantity of ingredients) fold the meringue into the almond paste. I use a wooden spatula and I move my bowl around so I create a circular motion while folding the mixture. Do a quick folding when you first pour in the meringue, once they are starting to blend together with the almond paste and create ribbons, fold slowly. The mixture should flow like a magma like everyone has been telling me, it should retain its shape but at the same time it should flow when you lift the mixture over the spatula. At the end of folding, I use a plastic spatula and fold one last time.

When you piped to a test first, count how long you pipe, mine is three seconds then I stop, see how it expand, if they size is good then keep going. It's trial and error and practice makes perfect...

*Cherry Dark Choc ganache
50 g heavy cream
100 g pitted cherries (blend in a blender til they become almost paste-like)
100 g black chocolate
20 g unsalted butter

Boil the heavy cream, pour to the black chocolate and butter. When they are blended smoothly, add the cherries and chill.

I have to be honest though, my macarons still come out slightly different to every batch, I made four batches today, two were waaaaaayy too stiff...the last two were better but somehow I kinda lost my magic....and patience. I guess being a full-time chef de macaron takes more than three weeks to master ey?

On another tangent, that reminds me,
Chéri the movie and the story by celebrated french writer Colette is out in cinemas. I watched it in Paris last time, it was very...well I think it is suited for someone with an acquired taste. Definitely recommended for someone who gets excited with all things french (and I'm proud of it), loves macaron (a MUST) , loveees Michelle Pfeiffer (in an awe-inspiring way) and is into movies set in classical period...well it might be just for you this weekend! and Rupert is so-darn-macaron hot!

a demain!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Black Sesame Macaron

Tuesday macaron is black sesame flavour. I followed this recipe from a macaron enthusiast/blogger like me and she is definitely a pro in her field! As you all know I am a beginner so I think it's important to follow the rules first before I start inventing my own recipes and flavours. I actually made three batches of black sesame macaron today, since I was getting furious their feet kept getting burnt too fast and even after I reduce the temperature in my oven. I started at 150c then reduced to 130c, but did not show any improvement. The third batch was better though because I actually sifted my top rack (that I normally used) to a lower level and stacked another baking tray over my macaron silpat. The fourth batch I brave myself to try the french method (after failing each time last week) and this time I succeeded but the large amount of sugar in contrast to the almond powder made the macarons too soft and fragile. If I have a convection professional oven, I probably used the french method often but I'll stick to italian method for now...

Yes everyone has been telling me to sell these and start making $$$ but I gotta perfect my baking skills first and really stick to the rules and guides before I truly say, yes I can make macarons. Right now, I am still learning and you can tell that as each macaron batch still turned out slightly different and I still have to match my macaron halves before I fill them because my piping skills aren't up to scratch yet. Lovely day though today, dog didn't bark at all and I was listening to a really good french soundtrack from this blog with great macaron recipes.

Next...I'll tackle chocolate/peppermint macaron (since I got a natural peppermint concentrate already from a cake specialist shop at Flinders St.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pistachio & Pink Cinnamon Macaron

Pistachion macaron with creamy pistachio ganache and pink cinnamon macaron with caramel date filling.

Saturday is suppose to be a great day to make some macarons, after all it's the weekend and I am all alone with Max, my Jack Russel Terrier, who behaves wonderfully on Saturdays as the postman is having his day off. But guess what! my macarons didn't turn out so wonderful! The first batch I made were too small and the colour of green monster, and the rest, well they had burnt feet. I mean from the photo they look pretty good but the feet were uneven and I think their tops were too stiff. I like the way the colours turn out though, I would def use both colours if I have a macaron cafe one day. I'm not sure where I'd gone wrong, I know for sure that the oven had some major issues since I emptied all the racks last night and somehow I rearrange it the wrong way. Also I bought a different batch of almond meal, these are from South Melbourne market, not the ones from supermarkets. I would think they would be better, or perhaps I grind them in my Cuisinart too long? I hope I can work all those issues on Monday.
Wish me luck!

I like this image of this jack russel, it so describe my dog perfectly if he was confined like that. He would be jumping non-stop until someone gives him the right attention! I love him so much.

I'm not particularly into those macarons with sprinkly tops, tops that are sprinkled with nuts and tid bits. I love my macarons smooth. So I grind the almond meal, pistachio and icing sugar alltogether until they're smooth.

I used the Italian Method for all my macaron, for the pistachio ganache I kinda made one today combining half a cup of thickened cream that's been whipped at max speed, half a cup of icing sugar and 1/4 cup of pistachio meal. Then I just refrigerate til they're firm enough for filling.

The caramel date is from previous post, I added ground cinnamon so that's it's not too sweet and for aroma as well.

Have a great weekend. See you all on Monday!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Caramel Date Macaron

I love dates, I love munching them, I love having a couple for desserts and when I get hungry at night, I take a few upstairs to my room. So I have not found a ganache with dates so I made my own... :)

*Caramel Date
120g caster sugar
90g thickened cream
30g unsalted butter
6-8 pieces of dates (pitted!)

Cut the dates in little tiny pieces first. Heat the sugar, let it melts into a caramelly liquid, not too brown or it'll harden! add the butter quickly, then add the thickened cream and then add the dates. Drop the heat to simmering and stir until the dates are almost melted but you can still feel their textures in the mix. Let it cool and refrigerate or freeze them until it becomes firm enough for filling.

With my second batch, I added more almond meal more than the icing sugar as most of the macarons I made using the Italian method has become a bit stiff, although the have a very smooth top. I notice adding more almond meal they are more fragile but they feel like how the should feel when I had macarons from Ladurée. However I could see tiny specks of almond dots, they look like they're still raw but I could a lot of bigger specks in Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Also my colouring is very subtle so that could be why. For next time, I'll try using slightly more almond meal and cooked them for a bit longer. We'll see.

Genmai-Cha Green Tea Macaron

Genmai-Cha Green Tea Macaron with roasted-rice aroma.

Hellow everybody, so today I decided to make a green-tea infused macaron with Genmai-Cha green tea. I liked this particular brand because it has roasted rice in its tea bags, and the aroma is very rusty and reminds me of burned wood actually. Weird but I seem to relax whenever I drink this tea after a long hard day of work! Green tea flavoured macaron is not new in the macaron stratosphere, so I thought I should try it since I know there would be a lot of my girlfriends who would prefer eating these (perhaps they thought it's healthier??).

For the ganache I melt some white chocolate in the cream ganache because the green-tea is partly just for aroma. I tasted a bit of the ganache before I refrigerate it and although you can taste a slight white chocolate taste, the green-tea with roasted rice taste is stronger, which I find works wonderful.

The lightly brown macaron on the right is also green tea flavoured but it was my second batch and I was experimenting with the colours, no! They are not overcooked!

I use all natural-colouring in my macarons, hence I think the colour is very subdued. I haven't tried powdered ones yet but I think I need to if I want to get serious with all this macaronning.

*Genmai-Cha Green Tea ganache
150g of thickened cream
50g of white chocolate buttons
four *genmai-cha green tea bags (I would prefer green tea powder, so I have more research to do)

Stir the thickened cream over simmering heat, when it starts bubbling add the white chocolate buttons. When everything is mix, let it cool. Infused the green tea bags in four tablespoons of near-boiling water, drain the bags until the last drop and add to the cream mixture. Refrigerate for an hour or so, check twice and stir to get a smooth texture. Then I whipped it hard in max speed for 5 minutes to get a thick creamy ganache. Voila!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Le Premier Macaron

From Left to Right: first row- macaron with salted caramel, cinnamon macaron with white chocolate caramel cream; third row- filled with cream caramel.

Voila!! Mon premier macaron...!

I would not call it a perfection just yet but it is definitely a huge step forward to making the perfect heavenly shaped macaron with delicious ganache filling. Today is the third day of baking macaron since I started on Monday, the fourth batch with countless of washing, kilos of almond meal, a few kilos of sugar and about 15 egg yolks that will turn into a lemon custard tart tomorrow. Yes I am in love with macarons, you can read a quick history of it in here, in my other blog which I started when I ran away to Paris for three months, kidding! about the running away part, but I did spent three months in Paris earlier this year and it definitely changed me in a lot of ways! initially my parents disagreed letting their youngest daughter ventured away by herself to Paris, alone, single and without a care in the world, but I survived (phewwww, as my dad would say from time to time) and had the best experience ever! For the first month I interned with Collette Dinnigan for Paris Fashion Week and the last two months I studied intensively french language at Alliance Française. Fashion is my background but at the moment, I am sooooo over it, well not really over it but I am taking a break from all of that designing and living in my own little shoe box.

Setback: they have the unfortunate cruch* (macaron is suppose to be pretty goey, soft and fragile) these are pretty hard. However the cinnamon flavoured (yellow) did had a more supply texture as I added more almond and icing sugar mixture.

Now, back to my love-affair with macarons, funnily when I was in Paris, I wasn't obsessed with them, yes I passed Ladurée everyday on my way home from Rue Bonaparte and once when I lived further away in the 15eme arrondissement, I missed a bus home and had a stopover at Ladurée and scored a vanilla and caramel macarons. Yes we all know they are divine, but I was cool with them, perhaps because I see them everywhere. But when I went back to Melbourne, I felt something was missing around me, and to my surprise there were a few places selling macarons here but as Duncan from Syrup and Tang wrote, Melbourne macarons are pretty bad. So that got me thinking, mmhhh maybe I should make my own, haha and so the journey began, first I enrolled at Savour School for their full-day macaron class and it was worth every digits!

So since then I was hooked and been making them non-stop. Here is le premier macaron and I am pretty proud of them!

La Recette as adapted from the Italian method

macaron shell
Tant pour Tant (almond meal and icing sugar mix)
70g of fine almond meal (ground to a powdery texture)
67g of pure icing sugar

50g egg whites (divides into two equal amount in separate bowls)

67g caster sugar
16g water

Now, the step by step formula is adapted from Syrup and Tang's. There is limitless formula in the Internet world, and I find that the Italian method is best so far. I chose this one because it has the less grams quantity so that I can make more batches if I make errors.

Ok now I'm happy and thanks to Duncan I did a pretty good job. And welcome to my macaron blog!