Vanilla is boring. It’s great. But it’s boring.
I had been massively looking forward to the macaron making pastry class. We started off excitedly cooking up colours and combinations in our heads and then baking the macaron doughs. Amongst some of the ideas we had: white chocolate & raspberry, passion fruit, blackcurrant, and balsamic vinegar. So while some students went crazy with black colouring, I decided to go milky white.
I was most disappointed when the chef came in and ordered us to only use one of his recipes. Some were lucky with pistachio and chocolate. I was punished with dull and plain vanilla. At least I didn’t get shafted with a caramel or coffee filling to go with purple shells, or olive oil and vanilla (ick).
We used the Italian meringue method. It definitely yields much better results than the French meringue method. I was actually pretty upset that my classmates didn’t have to go through the painful learning curve through trial and error: the cracking shells, no-feet, crumbly appearance, under-cooking, over-cooking etc.
300g almond flour
200g icing sugar, sifted
90g egg white
300g granulated sugar
90g egg white
For the Creme au Beurre Vanille filling
250g butter, pomade (softened in the microwave for 20 seconds)
100g egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence
1. Sift the icing sugar and almond meal together to remove any lumps. Mix with the first measure of egg whites to make a paste.
2. Start beating the second measure of egg whites in a mixer on medium speed to a meringue. In a saucepan, bring the 300g granulated sugar and 75g water to a boil till around 118C to 122C. When the desired temperature is reached, add the syrup into the beaten meringue and whisk till glossy.
3. Take a third of the meringue and add to the almond meal paste and fold in well. Take the rest and fold in well till a smooth lava consistency is reached (not too much folding as then the batter will be too runny and difficult to pipe, not too little as then the batter will be too stuff and well…difficult to pipe). Put dough in a piping bag with a size 10 nozzle.
4. Pipe 3.5cm discs onto baking parchment on heavy-based baking trays. Bake at 180C with the oven door slightly ajar for 14-15 minutes.
5. Once cooked let cool completely. Remove shells carefully. Leave on wire rack.
6. Heat the 100g sugar with the 100g water till the sugar dissolves to make a syrup. Pour syrup into the egg yolks and cook over a bain marie on medium heat, whisking constantly, till it reaches 85C. Take off heat and continue to whisk till it cools down to the temperature of the butter pomade and whisk them together till smooth. Add in a teaspoon of vanilla essence.
7. Sandwich the filling in with the macaron shells.