Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cherry Blossom inspired Macarons

This month on March 20th marks the annual Macaron Day. So, the lovely ladies from Mactweets called upon us the macaron lovers to make some spring flower inspired macarons, which will be presented on this special day on their website.

It sounded a lot more challenging than I thought. The first things that came to mind were Elderflowers. I made some very nice syrup last year with them, but I already used it up, and they are not yet in season. Then I thought about rose or lavender, but I wasn't sure how they would turn out. The idea finally came to me when I was taking a walk outside: cherry blossoms! They are already blooming all over the streets of Vancouver, a month earlier than usual. It's an awesome site. Spring certainly comes early this year!

I made regular macaron shells colored in pink and filled them with a white chocolate ganache with dried cherries and some kirsch. I later found out that Tartelette once made real cherry blossom macarons, with cherry blossom extract, which you can actually buy in Japan. 

Pink Macarons with white chocolate and cherry ganache

Macaron shells:
(adapted from Tartelette)

80g egg whites (about 2 large egg whites - aged for 3-5 days in the fridge)
22g granulated sugar
180g powdered sugar
100g ground almonds
pink food coloring

Ganache Filling: 
100g white chocolate, finely chopped
60ml heavy cream
2 tablespoons dried cherries, finely chopped
1 splash kirsch (schnapps)

Make the shells:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, add the food coloring, if using liquid coloring (if using powdered coloring add it later to the almond/ sugar mixture), then gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280 degrees Fahrenheit (140° Celsius). When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. 

Make the filling: 
Heat the heavy cream until boiling, then pour over the chocolate. Stir slightly until chocolate has melted completely. Add the kirsch and chopped cherries Let cool before filling the shells. You can whip the ganache a little before filling the macarons to get a little more volume.

Pipe the ganache filling with help of a pastry bag on the center of one shell and top with another one.

Enjoy and Guten Appetit!
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