Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Vanilla macarons with speculoos filling

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Dora of BoBo Macarons had given a master class on macaron making at the Bloggers' Buzz event, and that really pushed my confidence levels. I got down to business a few days after the class with a free mind and casual approach and voila, the perfect macarons at my disposal. I had tried espresso macarons a while back (when the macaron rage was full on) and although they weren't perfect, at that time I thought it was an accomplishment. After that I would have had at least 4 to 5 disasters and had almost given up on making macarons when Dora showed us how easy it was. Really, you need to see an expert do it all with ease to actually learn the art of macaron making. 

So after the success with vanilla macarons, I was over confident that I had tackled the macaron monster. and happily agreed to make some chai spiced macarons for a shoot (as per request of course). Little did I know the macarons had a mind of their own. The day before the shoot, I shortlisted Meeta's recipe for the same (spiced chai macarons) and got down to business- confident to the core and a bit nervous at the thought of ending up with no feet at all. Well, feet were the least of my problems. The first batch had feet but came out cracked on top, like crazy cracked. Of course, what do I do first, panic. Panicked like crazy for about 1/2 an hour, read up on troubleshooting macarons, thought it was the temperature that caused it to crack and decided to make another batch. Followed the same recipe, reduced temperature a bit and nope, no difference, cracked tops on some, and those which didn't crack came out with crinkled tops. Chucked out that lot as well. 
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By this time, I was almost in tears. I immediately called up Shab (an expert at this) who calmed me down and I decided to do the recipe I was used to, with just the addition of the spiced chai powder. Piped them out onto two trays and this time, one tray came out sort of perfect, but the other again crinkled and cracked tops. The problem here was... I had no clue what the hell I was doing wrong, to actually rectify it. If one tray of the same batch came out right and the other didn't, it couldn't have been the macronage or the setting time or the temperature. The only reason I could come up with was the tray lining used. One was a silicone mat and the other just baking paper. The macs on silicone mat came out good whereas the other was rubbish. I got around 6 to 8 decent macs from that lot, but it still wasn't enough for the shoot.

My mum called at the exact minute I was fretting over the macs and managed to freak her out as well. Her solution, just buy them from the store. If only chai spiced macs were readily available..and that too not filled, because that I had to do on the day of the shoot since they wanted to capture the piping technique. I had other dishes to prep for the shoot, plus a prop consultation by the stylist and I was a mess by then. I decided to give the macs a break and started tackling my other dishes. And then at around 9 at night I decided to give macs one last try. Yup, you guessed it right..disaster again. I mean I just didn't know what to do. Sorted out around 10 decent macs from the 4 batches I made, which means just 5 sandwiches. I knew I was in deep shit and had to figure out a way to make the macs work at the shoot. Lesson learnt..never ever agree to do macs for anyone. Like Dora said, your mood clearly reflects on the macs you make, I completely believe that now!
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In the pic above you can see the disastrous macs (see the cracks?). Even after sandwiching them, they looked ugly. The flavour however was brilliant and I hope to try them out again when my macaron phobia is over. Comparing the vanilla macs to the chai ones, I'm in awe of how great they turned out. The biscoff / speculoos spread is a current fav and Nutella has been happily replaced. Keeping the macs simple with vanilla worked because the speculoos filling is fab and that was the only way to bring out its flavour. I loved the combo and some of our friends who tried it, loved it as well.

Recipe adapted from here, makes around 18 to 20 sandwiched macs (originally from Ottolenghi)
Ground almonds/ almond meal- 60 gms
Powdered sugar- 100 gms
Caster sugar- 40 gms
Vanilla paste- 1/2 tsp (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
Egg whites- 60 gms (I used eggs whites from a carton Two Chicks)

For the filling
Double cream- 1/4 cup
Speculoos spread- 4 tbsp (Lotus spread)
Granulated sugar- 2 tbsp (optional)
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If you are trying macs for the first time, do read Demystifying Macarons by the ever talented Helen Dujardin and you will be fine (except if the macs just decide they will not make us happy).
Before you start, get the baking trays lined with baking paper and the piping bag with round tip nozzle ready.
Sift the icing sugar and almond meal together once or twice to make sure there are no lumps. Its ok if they are not too fine. 
In a free standing mixer with whisk attachment whisk the egg whites till frothy.
Add the caster sugar bit by bit, while continuously beating, till soft peaks form.
It should hold its peak shape when you lift the whisk, but shouldn't be too dry and stiff.
Add two spoons of almond powder mix into the meringue and fold it all in using a spatula. You can be a bit vigorous here.
Add the remaining almond powder mix and slowly fold it in till you get a smooth mix.
To check if the consistency is right the batter should fall back in ribbons when you lift the spatula.
Also put a spoon full of the batter on a plate and if it spreads out on its own (not too fast) then you are good to go. If it doesn't, give a couple more folds and loosen it out. This is very tricky, if too loose  you are ruined.

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Fill the piping bag with batter and pipe small rounds on to the trays. leave around 2 inches gap between the shells.
Gently tap the trays on the kitchen counter to rid of the air bubbles and keep aside to dry. This can range from 15 minutes to about an hour, depending on the humidity of the place. 
They are ready to bake when a film forms on the shells and when you lightly touch them, they no longer stick to your fingers.
Pre-heat oven to 140C and bake the macarons on the middle rack for 12 to 14 minutes. And do pray that nothing goes wrong in the oven. 
Once time is up, take the trays out of the oven and leave aside to cool completely after which you can carefully remove the shells from the paper and store in an air tight container till ready to pipe.

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For the filling, whip the double cream till soft peaks form.
Fold in the sugar and speculoos spread and mix till they all come together.
I have eye balled the measurements here, if you need more spread flavour coming through, then add more.

Either fill a piping bag with the filling and pipe on to the macaron shells or if you are lazy like me, use a small tea spoon and spread on to the shells.
Sandwich them and store in the refrigerator in an air tight container over night for the flavours to set in.

30 comments:

Hari Chandana P said...

Looks absolutely fantastic.. awesome clicks as always :D

Manju said...

Making macarons has always been on my mind...I recently won a book as part of a giveaway which is full of macaron recipes and still haven't tried making a batch yet.

Love the pics and that blue board *sigh* I want one like that :-)

Sumi said...

absolutely lovely..you inspire me to try this..:)

Premalatha Aravindhan said...

wow delicous macrons,luks so perfect...

divya said...

this looks absolutely gorgeous... beautiful clicks...

Vineetha said...

They look beautiful Nish..and about disasters what can I say..it's like getting a u.k driving licence I think...lot to do with our luck as well =D

Priya R said...

Looks so picture perfect Nisha, and you are really pushing me to try again ;) love all your clicks

Akila said...

All macrons look perfect... Didn't see any cracks on macaroons... Love ur clicks
Event: Dish name starts with R till April 15th and a giveaway

Priya Suresh said...

My normal prefect macs looks like ur cracked ones, so guess how i get them.;Yours looks fantabulous Nisha, wish i get as like urs..

Hamaree Rasoi said...

Pics of macrons look simply tempting. Would love to try them out soon.
Deepa

Sireesha Puppala said...

Fantastic job they look perfect n yumm

Ms.Chitchat said...

Picture perfect macarons, love those white angels, honest write-up too.

Suja Manoj said...

You made it perfectly..gorgeous and love the filling

Rumana Ambrin said...

Fantastic and perfectly looking macs...

Nupur said...

Well done Nisha !! That Macaron class did pay off well for you, all pieces so even and glossy... :)

Love that shattered look plate..

Amina said...

wow... your macaroons look fantastic.. simply superb... amazing clicks...

Shabs.. said...

Very beautiful pics nisha... I remeber how tensed you were that day, and i think that also effected ur macs:)... The pics are fab!

lifescoops said...

Dear Nisha - You have done a really good job here and the i love how you have styled the macarons ...I remember reading your espresso macaron post and I was intimidated to try making my own...maybe I will try it when i have some confidence and ample of time to redo things if anything goes wrong preferably a long weekend :) - I am sure you will be a pro the next time yo make them (like Shabs whom i call the macaron queen) :)) BTW - forgot to mention - LOVE your props !!!
~Shema

Sunshine And Smile said...

LOVELY! Every time I see a post on macaroons I get tempted to try and then I get intimated. God knows why! I really should crack some eggs and get over this phobia.

Shibi Thomas said...

I haved walked in the same shoes just like you, when my cake decorations go wrong...oh I can imagine those frustration and panic. You macs are lovely and I wish I could grab one from the screen. They look like they are weightless and floating. Loved the pictures.

Jeannie Tay said...

I am so through with the macarons craze, thank goodness! Failures can be very expensive! Glad to see your macs turned out great finally!

Turmeric n Spice said...

I can imagine your situation - I almost bit of all my nails ...who said cooking was relaxing ... And imagine if u r working with deadlines!!! I think they look gorgeous but am sure u were not happy with the results - know the feeling !! I love your honesty !! :))

Hamaree Rasoi said...

The spirit matters dear...They look very light and love your photography...

Reshmi Mahesh said...

Macarons look awesome...I had wanted to visit here from the day u posted it..anyways doesn't matter..:). After all the flops hope you were good for the shoot..Love the clicks and props...Beautiful....

Radhika@foodfor7stages said...

That is a beautiful baby feet. Am loving it.

Ananda Rajashekar said...

God, this almost like a horror story...more tough than some of my experiments! I don't even dream of making them...well i have been telling Finland that i'm going to come to your place to learn Macarons, hope i can do a post like your's in the future...gorgeous picture Nisa loved way you styled them and blue board lifts up the whole mood!

Rose /Magpie said...

These are so perfect Nisha! too bad you had bad luck for the shoot. Can I just say how much admiration I have that you have consultations with food stylists? WOW!
Oh and I always follow Helene's recipe and I have so far never fiddled with it. I add whatever flavourings I want into the filling, that's it! Almost always keep the shell plain, at the most some dry flavouring like spices, espresso powder etc. Definitely flghty creatures they are!

Puja Thomas-Patel said...

Yum! These look great! Thanks for submitting to this month's DMBLGiT contest!

Meena Kumar said...

Hi Nisha,
Congrats on being the Originality Winner of dmblgit. Those macaroons look so inviting and delicious,they do deserve all the attention.

Bharathy said...

I knew you would hit a prize, Nisha :) too lovely!You deserve it!! Congrats! :) and happy for you..