Entries tagged with “Bomboniere”.


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Earlier this year I shared the news of my impending nuptials – and the plan for my French macaron wedding favors.  Coordinating with the colours of the wedding (emerald green, aqua and lavender), a wave of flavour suggestions were made.

And quickly, my macaron trials were on!

1. Champagne Macarons
2. Liquorice Macarons
3. Blueberry Macarons
4. Matcha Tea Macarons

But the ultimate winner?  Champagne Macarons, bien sûr.

Now after all the planning, the big day has arrived.  This image is just a sneak peek of day.  Mr Mélanger and I are now enjoying our honeymoon.

I will return in October and share a few more images of the wedding preparation and the big day.

Plus, I will be raring to go with caramel.  With a 3-1 vote, it is the clear victor for my next monthly baking theme!  Thank you everyone for your choices.  Having a serious weakness for chocolate, I was totally surprised with the outcome – but I am really excited about the challenge.

A bientôt!

{ Image } ::  Mr Mélanger & Julia
Location @ Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm
Photography shot by Sarah Sculley of Sculley Design

Matcha Tea Macarons

Until recently, when I thought of green tea I would never have thought of macarons.  This flavour macaron was one of the suggestions for my upcoming wedding favors.

The tea flavour is mild.  You taste it but do not immediately put your finger on what it is.  Once you are told it is green tea, you instantly distinguish it.  The pairing with the dark chocolate ganache is spot on.  The bitterness of the tea harmonises impeccably with the bitterness of the chocolate.  The creamy ganache and sweet almond macaron shells round out the flavour.  The matcha tea powder produces an attractive coloured shell, and the sprinkling of tea powder on top of the shells before baking provides a lovely finish.

My friend E is not a tea or coffee drinker, yet enjoyed taste-testing these macarons – though admitedly, I did load up one or two with extra ganache as a compensatory measure, just in case.

So far I have trialed champagne, blueberry, liquorice and now matcha macarons for  my wedding favors.

The versatility of the macaron as a vehicle for practically any flavour and  colour combination is becoming more apparent with each new batch of macarons I make.  The ability to create your own macaron, to personalise something as your very own is extraordinary.  By the end, I hope to find my own signature petit four.  Until then, I will trial a few more macaron flavours before the big day. 

{ Matcha tea macarons }

* Ingredients *

100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g icing sugar
2 teaspoons of matcha tea powder
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, and add the matcha tea powder.  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.

{ Chocolate ganache }

* Ingredients *

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

* Directions *

Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir.  Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Talk about a global brainstorm.

From 4 continents in less than 3 days I have over 20 macaron flavour ideas for my wedding.  How amazing is that?  Thank you so much for all for your ideas (and keep them coming, please!).  To be honest, I was actually a little overwhelmed by all the options.  Where to start?  Where to start?

It will be difficult to choose only one or two flavours for the wedding.  But luckily, I am planning to continue my macaron adventures post-wedding.  With all these ideas, looks like I have no other choice!  What a shame…

{ Green }
1. Wasabi
2. Pandan and pandan/screw pine
3. Matcha tea
4. Lime
5. Kiwi
6. Mint macaron with chocolate cream and mint leaf
7. Mint macaron with vanilla cream and chocolate square
8. Basil
9. Lime-basil
10. Green tea and palm sugar
11. Apple and mint
12. Green cardamom (powder)
13. Pistachio with rose water

{ Purple }
14. Blackcurrant
15. Violet figs with honey cream filling
16. Black cherry

{ White }
17. Coconut
18. White shells filled with a white Russian butter cream
19. White rose
20. White chocolate
21. Salted caramel (well, close to white and given how delicious these macarons are, I could not help put them on the list!)

{ Blue / aqua }
22. Blueberry

Let the short listing commence…

Wedding inspiration board

First off, this post may seem to deviate away from baking, but I promise there is a (round-about!) connection.

I am getting married at the end of the year.  I am pretty excited as you can imagine.  And those that know me well, know that it also means one thing.  A highly researched, organised, considered event.  Do not get me wrong; there is absolutely nothing elaborate planned.  It will be a simple affair of 30-35 people, sans formalities.  No bridal party.  No speeches.  No first dance.  And dare I say it…no cake.

When first engaged, the prospect of eloping seemed very appealing.  Simple, minimal fuss, low key.  Problem was, we would miss out on sharing the day with family and close friends.  And really, at the end of the day, what is more important?  I was then reminded of the reason I bake.  It is really part of my fabric.  I love baking to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, birthdays.  I love to bake to give homemade gifts.  I love to learn and discover what families around the world incorporate as baking traditions into their lives.  For me, it is the people in your life that make you who you are and provide the joyous memories.  Baking helps me create those memories.

So you may be thinking, “if baking is so important in your life, why not have a cake at your own wedding?”

Good question.  There are two reasons why.

1. Because we do not want the formality of cake cutting, and
2. I am including something better!

Macarons.

Everyone knows I am obsessed with these little petit fours so what a better way to personalise my wedding day?  The search is now on for colours, flavours, fillings, packaging, labeling to give these little macarons the regard they deserve.

I have created my own ‘inspiration board’ (above) for the wedding.  I selected emerald green with hints of aqua and lavender as the theme colours.  (Long story!)  So far I have considered my macaron options to be pistachio, lavender and vanilla, to tie in with my colour palette.  But there are so many other choices. 

Any ideas for flavours, colours and filling?  Anyone made macarons for wedding favors?  Any tips or hints?

I am glad it did finally come back to baking – and my favourite kind at that.

{ Images }
1st Row: Champagne bottle photo by Jonathan Canlas, Green tie from Martha Stewart Weddings, Lavender field, Atonement movie scene, Long table photography from the Brides Cafe
2nd Row: Flowers from Martha Stewart Weddings, Invitation from Snippet and Ink, Table Number from Novak Photography, Champagne Truffles from Teuscher
3rd Row: Hanging Flowers from Apartment Therapy, Jewellery from Martha Stewart Weddings, ‘The Dress!’ – Wedding Dress, Oscar de la Renta, Martha Stewart Weddings Fall 2008
4th Row: Macarons from Paulette via Brooklyn Bride, Favor Boxes from Snippet and Ink