Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Saffron Macarons with Cardamom Infused White Chocolate Ganache

I know! It’s macarons again. But before going to the recipe, I need to tell you something that you would want to know. It’s just that, the feed on my blog is not working, which in simple words means that whoever is subscribed to my blog will not be getting any updates, and for bloggers, my updates doesn’t even show up on the google reader or dashboard! I have been trying to sort this issue for the past few days and nothing works! It started getting worse and I thought I will leave it alone for a while to see if it gets fixed by its own, which in case I would be lucky. Else I would have to set up the subscription form again and you would have to subscribe to my blog yet again to receive any updates from my blog. I play around with the template coding quite a bit, and I don’t know if that’s me who screwed up the code and jumbled the feed up or if it is the feedburner that is to blame! I am sorry for the inconvenience caused, I hope this issue gets sorted soon. And if anyone could help me fix the issue, please let me know. I would be very grateful.

 Coming to today’s recipe, Saffron is one among many flavours that I wanted to try. I love saffron, and I am sure I would love it in macaron as well. After a whirlwind of macaron flavours that I had in mind and lot of thinking, I stuck to saffron as I know people here love saffron, and that too they love it quite strong. This was one among few other things that I made for our lovely neighbour Kate who was celebrating her 70th Birthday. The shell is made of a mixture almonds and cashewnuts and is infused with crushed saffron. They are wonderfully aromatic and pairs well with cardamom infused white chocolate Ganache. The whole house smelt of saffron while these were baking, and I should say, it is a must try if you love saffron.

 I bake my macarons both at 140 ºC and 150 ºC, but lately I have been baking them at 140ºC. I then started noticing that most of the macarons in the same batch comes out little shrivelled with less perfect shells after it sits outside for a while! I have been facing this issue for a while now, not being able to figure out why that was happening. I just found out the culprit during my last bake. I thought it was something to do with the mixing, but no, it is the oven! My oven has hot spots, it is hotter around the sides than in the middle. So, when I bake them at 140 ºC, macarons that goes around the side of the tray comes out perfect, but that goes in the centre get a bit wrinkled after they sit outside, which was very annoying. It is not nice to see a wrinkled cookie in the gift box especially when you have to present it to somebody! It’s just the look that wasn’t great, but taste and texture remains the same, divine.

 Recently, while I was making another batch of them, accidently I baked them at 150 degrees and to my surprise, I got shells that has smooth, shiny top with no wrinkles, but it got done in 12 minutes and then the shells started taking brown colour. So when you bake your macarons for the first time, try piping them in 2-3 sheets. Pipe just 2 macarons each in 1-2 baking trays to see what temperature is best for your macaron and the remaining in another tray for final baking. Try baking the trays containing 2 macarons at different temperature and then bake the one that has many at the temperature that is best. Doing it this way, you don’t have to ruin the whole batch just because your temperature is not right.

Regarding the pictures of this post, if you notice, the pictures are grainy in here, as I shot them by setting ISO to 800. It was not intended, but a mistake that I realized once I saw the pictures on the PC. By then, it was too late and I couldn’t bother re-shooting the whole thing again! I have been playing around with my camera the previous night, setting ISO to 800, trying to shoot the moon at night and I forgot to set it back!

Saffron Macarons with Cardamom Infused White Chocolate Ganache

Makes 16-17 Medium sandwiched macarons


For shells: 
32g almonds, whole, ground or slivers
33g raw cashew nuts
100g Icing sugar
15g caster sugar
45g aged egg whites
½ tsp saffron
few drops of orange or yellow colour


Cardamom infused White Chocolate Ganache:

70g white chocolate
70mls double cream
¼ tsp cardamom powder

Preparation (shells):
**For an elaborate macaron post with my tips and links to other helpful sources, check out my first macaron post here

1.For ageing egg whites: Place egg whites in a clean bowl. Cover it with a cling cover and poke few holes in the film. Keep it in your kitchen counter for 24-48 hours or in fridge for up to 5 days. This ageing of egg whites helps to reduce the moisture content in the egg whites and make firmer shells. Fresh egg whites make fragile cookies which may break off as you try to lift them off the baking paper.

2. Powder the nuts, saffron strands and icing sugar together in a food processor or a grinder into very flour-like fine powder. Transfer them to a large bowl and sieve 1-2 times to break up the lumps. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl and keep aside while you work with meringue and prepare your baking sheet and piping bag.

3. Line your baking sheets with baking paper or silpat. Fit your piping bag with a plain round tip and place it in a tall glass or a jar to make the job easier while scooping the batter in.

4. For making meringue, using an electric blender, whisk egg whites in a squeaky clean bowl (preferably metallic bowl as it is difficult to maintain a plastic/glass bowl grease free) on high until it starts to form soft peaks. Add in caster sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. It should be like a smooth, glossy shaving cream like form. If adding any colour, add once stiff peaks are formed and then beat again to stiff peaks incorporating the food colour. Make sure it is not over beaten and dry, which would result in dry shells.

5. Add the dry mixture to meringue in 2-3 portions and start folding it until everything is just combined and no more of dry mixture could be seen. Use a flexible spatula for this and mix until you get a smooth, shiny batter that ruggedly drips down the spoon once you lift it. DO NOT over mix once you have reached that thick batter stage. For testing, place a teaspoon of batter in a plate and you see it spreading flat slowly, then the batter should be ready. If it has a peak on top, give couple more folds and check again. Keep checking the batter at each stage by placing a spoon of batter in the plate to judge the consistency.

6. Pour the macaron batter into the piping bag. Once the batter is all poured in, twist the ends of piping bag tight to seal the batter in. Pipe out small rounds of about 2 cm diameter on your baking paper leaving about 2 inches in between. The macaron batter will spread and then join hands with the next one if they are piped too close, so make sure leave at least 2 inches between them. Rap the baking sheet few times on a table to remove any bubbles trapped in the batter. (To help you with the round shape, you can use this template).

7. Let the macarons sit to dry for as long as it forms a thin skin on top or is dry and leaves no indentation once touched or the batter doesn’t stick to hands once touched. It depends from place to place depending on the weather and humidity. In a humid place it will take as long as 2-3 hours whereas here it takes under 30 minutes, but I leave for a bit more.

8. Preheat the oven to 150 degress Celcius. Bake the macaron for 11-13 minutes. Do not open the oven until they are completely done. Take them out and let them cool down for
30 minutes. Peel them out gently and sort them out with same size shells. Fill them with Ganache and leave it in fridge to mature for a 2-3 days two to get maximum flavour out of it.
It is very important to mature the cookies as that filling will steep into the shells and the flavours blend well. Unfilled shells can be frozen.

For the filling:

Bring double cream to simmering point in a heavy base pan or in microwave. Once you start seeing small bubbles appearing along the sides, turn the heat off and add chopped chocolates and cardamom powder into it. Leave it for couple of minutes and then stir well until combined. Leave it in fridge until it firms up enough to pipe or spoon. It should not be runny and should be stiff and easy to spread. If it gets too stiff, place in the microwave and warm for few seconds until spreadable.
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