Jasmine Tea Macarons
Macarons are sweet biscuits sandwiched with a flavoured cream or ganache. Not to be confused with a macaroon which is made from coconuts, a macaron (mac-ah-ron) has an almond meal base. The biscuit is light and airy in texture and should easily melt in the heat of the eater's mouth.
Ideally, macarons should have a smooth, glossy domed top, a thin crunchy shell and a soft chewy centre which yields to a delicious filling.
These are perfect for fancy occasions. I most recently made them when I catered my best friend's wedding morning tea.
Macarons are often touted as one of the hardest pastries to make but I've simplified my recipe to be beginner-friendly and won't require absolutely precise measurements. I've separated this recipe into three parts: the shells, the filling and assembly. They're a little time consuming so either break up the baking of the shells and the filling on separate days or be prepared to set aside a few hours.
Part 1: Macaron Shells
2 large egg whites (room temperature)
5 tbs caster sugar
1 cup icing sugar (loosely packed)
1/2 cup almond meal (loosely packed)
2 jasmine tea bags
1. Remove the tea from the tea bags and sift together with the icing sugar and almond meal into a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients to mix thoroughly and put aside. Prepare two large baking trays and lining them with baking paper or use a silicone baking mat. Prepare a large piping bag with a large round tip and place aside.
2. In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, then slowly rain in the caster sugar while continuing to beat using electric beaters. Whisk until all the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are at stiff peaks. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down and the egg whites will stay as they are.
3. Pour the dry ingredients into the egg whites and fold the mixture with a spatula until combined. Usually folding is a gentle movement in order to keep the mixture aerated, however you need to be a tiny bit more heavy handed with macarons. Keep folding it until it doesn't feel as tough while gently "scratching" the surface of the mixture and pushing the mixture on the sides of the bowls to get rid of some of the air. Use the spatula and gently scrape it along the top of the surface in the same motion you would use an ice cream scoop from the top edge of the bowl to the bottom edge or a paddle of a boat in water. The more you fold, the more runny the mix becomes. When the mixture falls from the spatula with a steady but slow magma-like flow it is at the right consistency to be piped.
4. Fill your piping bag with the macaron mixture and pipe approximately 3-3.5cm rounds onto the baking trays, leaving a little space between each one to expand. If you have a little tail on the surface of the piped circle left by the piping bag, dip your finger into a bowl of water and with the damp tip of your finger gently tap down the peak. Tap the tray on a hard surface to clear out any air bubbles and then leave trays in a non-humid area to dry. This may take between 15 to 30 minutes depending on your house. This is the most important step! You will know when the macarons are ready when a skin has formed over the top so when you touch them you will not get any of the mixture on your finger.
5. Bake them on the middle rack of the oven at 155°C for 12-13 minutes. You will know when it is done when you touch them on the top and the sides and bottom do not wiggle. Remove from oven and leave it to cool for 30 minutes while you make the filling.
Now for the filling. As these had a subtle jasmine tea flavour, I wanted to use a light filling, so I opted for a white chocolate swiss meringue buttercream over a heavy traditional chocolate ganache.
White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
200g unsalted butter (softened room temperature)
180g white chocolate (I use Cadbury melts)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1. Melt the chocolate either in a bowl over simmering water or in the microwave using 30 second bursts and stirring inbetween until it is smooth and all melted. Put it aside to cool.
2. Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Place the egg whites in a heat proof bowl, add salt and whisk until just foamy. Add the sugar in and whisk again until combined.
3. Put the bowl over the simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk vigorously and non-stop until the sugar has melted. Dip your fingers into the mix, rubbing them together until you can't feel any grains of sugar. It should feel smooth and not too hot to the touch. This process both melts the sugar while pasteurising the eggs. Don't stop whisking and remove the bowl from the heat as soon as the sugar dissolves otherwise you could end up with scrambled eggs.
4. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer the mixture into your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk the egg white/sugar mixture until you get stiff peaks and the bowl feels cool to the touch. This takes about 5 minutes.
5. With the mixer on medium-low speed add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time until all combined. There will be a stage where the buttercream looks like it's curdled but don't worry, keep mixing and it will eventually come together again as a smooth mixture.
6. When the buttercream is smooth, add the melted white chocolate and mix again until incorporated. Let the mixture sit so that the chocolate solidifies a little. It will make the filling process easier.
Assembling the macarons
1. Fill a piping bag with the buttercream using a large round tip. I use a Wilton 2A tip.
2. Pair up your macaron shells with those of the same size, although if you piped them correctly, this should not be a real issue. Pipe some filling onto the middle of the shell and then put the other one on top, gently pressing it together to sandwich the filling and push the buttercream to the edge.
Note: If you're going to pack and store your finished macarons, put them on their sides and refridgerate them.