You can read about my previous macaron attempts here, here, and here. If you want to learn more about macarons, please consult Melbourne's own Macaron Master Markham's blog over at Syrup and Tang.
I have previously had mixed success with macarons and had given up making them for a while, such was the disappointment I had with my last attempt. But I regained my enthusiasm for them after tasting a violet macaron from Duncan at the second Melbourne food bloggers banquet. That violet macaron blew my mind and I had renewed interest. Duncan was generous enough to run a macaron masterclass that I was lucky enough to attend.
Hence, we have arrived at today. I went out today and bought a new digital scale to get more accuracy as well as a piping bag so that I could make nice round shapes. I gave myself all day so I wouldn't be stressed and took each step slowly.
I was using the Italian Meringue Method today for my macaron. So firstly, I weighed out all my ingredients. I decided to play it safe this time and make a small batch, so it was easier to control everything. I went with two egg whites. I weighed up the appropriate amounts of almond meal and icing sugar. I whizzed up the almond and icing to get a fine powder. Then I made my Italian Meringue. The small saucepan I bought from Oasis Bakery was really useful as the sugar syrup reached temperature really quickly this time. The meringue was beautifully shiny.
Next I mixed my wet and dry ingredients, sticking to a basic white shell with vanilla essence for flavouring. I then went to pipe my batter onto a baking tray, only to find that the piping bag tip didn't protrude through the piping bag. Hey, I've only ever piped once, and that was at Duncan's materclass. A panicked call to Duncan and it turns out that I need to cut the tip of the piping bag a bit to fit the nozzle. I did that and piped all my macarons.
Then the words of Master Markham rang in my head, "do a test batch first". Thank Go(r)d(on) I did that, or I would have fucking fucked up the whole fucking batch (hehe, I thought I would get in on the swearing that seems so hip for chefs lately). I had forgotten to let my macaron batter rest a bit so that a crust could form on it. So the test macarons turned out with badly cracked shells.
After letting my macarons rest for 20 minutes to form a crust, I put them into the oven at 160C. The macarons turned out pretty good. They were a bit too brown and two shells stuck to the tray, but otherwise it wasn't too bad. I couldn't stop the shells burning because when they were still white and I took them out, they weren't cooked through yet. I've emailed Duncan about this and we have both concluded its probably due to me having the tray at the very bottom of the oven rather than in the middle. I was thinking that having it at the bottom would stop it burning, but obviously it stops it cooking too hahaha.
Next it was time for the filling. I made up the buttercream that Duncan had taught me. It was very easy to do and turned out so beautifully smooth. I was really pleased with it.
Next, my secret (well not so secret as I've been saying I would do this for ages) ingredient, durian. I was going to fill the centre with durian, and create the macaron called "The Thanh". You aren't going to find "The Thanh" at Pierre Herme or Laduree any time soon. The smell alone would kill 99% of the customers I think. I used a half half ratio of the buttercream and durian puree to make a fairly smooth cream.
Then, it was just a matter of piping in the durian cream and sandwiching the macarons together. And voila, "The Thanh" has been created. Hooray! So how did it taste. It tasted quite good. It wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be, but nonetheless, it was still good. The sweetness of the macaron combined with the powerful sweetness of the durian makes it all a bit too rich. I need to find fillings that help to cut the sweetness of the macaron rather than making it sweeter. Maybe a slightly bitter chocolate shell with durian will work better. A flavour combo to try for next time.
As I said, you can find the macaron recipe over at Duncan's blog. For the buttercream, here is the recipe that Duncan gave me.
1 egg white
230g unsalted butter, softly whipped
10ml water flavouring (choose whatever flavours you want)
1) Over a double boiler, beat the eggs, white and sugar until it is thick and frothy.
2) Take egg and sugar mixture off heat. Let it cool until it's warm to touch. Then beat in the butter.
3) If the mixture is still a bit rough, put back over hot water and continue beating until it is smooth.
4) Add flavouring.