Friday, October 30, 2009

Earl Grey creation for The Macaron Series!

~Earl Grey Macaron~
with dark chocolate hazelnut praline ganache filling....

This article is part of "The Macaron Series"

Makes 20 macarons


65g Almond meal
80g Icing sugar
40g Castor sugar
50g Egg white
8g Earl Grey tea powder

Preheat your oven to 325oF
1. Stack two or three heavy baking trays. Line the top tray with Silpat.
2. Process the almond meal and icing sugar at high speed to achieve a fine powder. Incorporate the Earl Grey tea powder into this mixture and sift to break up any lumps of powder.
3. In a clean bowl, beat the room-temperature egg whites until foamy and just at soft peaks. Gradually beat in the castor sugar, adding a little at a time. Beat on medium speed for a number of minutes until you have a firm, glossy and compact meringue.
4. Sprinkle half of the dry mixture over the meringue and fold in with a spatula using a circular motion around the bowl and under the batter. Repeat with the remaining powder. You don't need to be gentle, but the goal is to incorporate the dry ingredients quickly to avoid overmixing. *It's better to undermix than overmix.
5. The final batter should be the colour of pale brown, smooth and thick but flowing. A ribbon of batter dropped from a spoon onto the top of the remaining batter should take about 30 seconds to disappear.
6. Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a 8-10 mm nozzle and pipe evenly onto the baking paper. Mild peaks should settle back into the batter eventually. If they don't disappear, tap the tray repeatedly on a table until the peaks have largely disappeared.
7. Leave the piped batter to dry for anywhere between 20 mins and two hours.
8. Place the tray in the oven and bake at 325oF for 12 minutes.
9. At the 5 minute mark the shells should have lifted and developed 'pied' or the feet. At the 6-7 minute mark they should be starting to colour just slightly.
10. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for a minute or two.
11. Once removed from the sheet, leave the shells to cool on a wire rack, face up.

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Ganache Filling:

227g Valrhona 71% chocolate couverture
125mL Heavy Cream
114g Hazelnut Praline Paste (store bought or homemade)

1. Chop couverture finely and place it in a bowl.
2. Heat heavy cream in a saucier till almost boiling.
3. Pour the hot cream into the couverture, allow the couverture to seep in hot cream for 1 minute. Gently stir mixture until all the couverture has melted and incorporated with the cream.
4. Place in refrigerator and allow it to harden to form the ganache.
5. Whip ganache until it reaches a creamy consistancy. Gently fold in the praline paste.

Assemble the Earl Grey Macarons:
1. Place the whipped ganache with praline into a piping bag and pipe mixture onto one macaron shell.
2. Gently press an un-piped shell onto the ganache until the ganache just reaches the rim of the macaron.
3. Dust very lightly with cocoa powder if desired.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Le mystère du Mont-Blanc....

This article is part of "The Chestnut Series":

Sweet and savoury bites with chestnuts should be anything but foreign to those who spent their childhood in Asia. Their passion for these sweet succulent fruits has reached the obsession level, yet never plateaued at their creative constructions with this jewel. From savoury soups within the Chinese medicinal culinary bible, to the velvety luscious sweet version, from the sweet roasted chestnuts with their mesmerising scent escaping through the cracked shells, to a piece of pastry where the crispy meringue, smooth puréed chestnuts and Crème Chantilly melt into a harmonious sensation, it is hardly a challenge to discover one invention that suits your palette.

Remembering my dislike in Mont-Blanc as a child is a thought that is as ancient as it foreign. My debut to this pâtisserie was with a cake slice that was assembled with two dominating sponge layers adhered with whipped cream and layers of puréed chestnuts that were minuscule in volume. It took an adventure in Paris, a Pâtisserie across from Musée Du Louvre, Angelina, to win my heart over this time-honoured French Dessert (there is almost nothing as poetic as devouring this treat on a wooden bench within the Jardin des Tuileries!).

A Mont Blanc (Italian Montebianco) is a cake or tart made of puréed chestnuts and whipped cream, often on a meringue base, and gets its name from the Mont Blanc mountains. Often sugar or cream will decorate the top of a Monte Blanc to resemble snow-capped mountains. It is a popular dessert in Hungary. In Hungary it is known as "gesztenyepüré" (literally chestnut puree).

This dessert dates back to 1475 in an Italian cook book from 1475, and was often served in the home of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. It became popular in France in the 17th century. Some sources claim that the cake was either invented at the Angelina cafe in France or in the Jiyūgaoka district of Tokyo.

Originally Mont Blancs were yellow, by using chestnuts sweetened through a pickling process. However, it has become increasingly more common to find light, or even dark brown Mont Blanc, utilizing the true colour of the chestnut.

The modernisation of Mont-Blanc has incorporated the use of Autumn pickings from the garden, such as pumpkin, squash, and purple yam in place of chestnut. Though I am often fond of fusion ideas, chestnuts can never be replaced in a true Mont-Blanc!

It has been an adventure to be on a quest to discover nouvelle patisseries that feature the Mont-Blanc, and here is one of my favourites, from Le Tao patisserie in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan. Please do share with me of your own favourites!

....traditional meringue base, with whipped cream that was lighter than Crème Chantilly, and chestnut puree that was made with Japan origin Marrons. The fragrant of this fruit was lingering on your taste buds after every bite. Délicieux~!

Monday, October 26, 2009

In the Mood for Love....and Macaron....The Macaron Series!

The most exquisite form of a pastry that carry a fashion statement, it is almost impossible to not be in the mood for Macaron. The truth is that I fell for them too like most connoisseurs, after discovering Parisian-style macarons as I strolled pass the jewels-decorated cases of Pierre Hermé and Ladurée, I became a victim of this fashion trend when I am known not to be a meringue fan. With a two-day half life, and the reluctance to devour the pieces of art, my very first box of such gems was framed as the decor in my refrigerator. One bite was all it took to elevate it from a simply an exquisite piece of art, into a culinary adventure, as your teeth sink through the crisp egg shell-like crust, the soft fluffy interior, a slight crunch from the pied, then finally the indulgent flavourful centre.

In its purest form, the macaron is a confection composed of finely ground almonds, egg whites, and sugar. The word is a derivation of the Venetian macarone, meaning “fine paste”. The recipe traveled through France and varied regionally, but the ingredients and the basic construction remained consistent. A layer of buttercream, ganache, or jam was spread between two meringue disks.

In the early 1930 the tearoom and pastry-shop Ladurée in Paris started selling the new creation of Pierre Desfontaines, grandson of Louis Ernest Ladurée: two traditional dome halves sandwiched with a sweet filling between: the ganache.

In the mid-nineties Ladurée raised the bar with the help of a consultant, Pierre Hermé, a pastry master who added compelling flavor combinations, such as lime-basil and violet-cassis, to the shop’s offerings. Among Ladurée’s newer creations, a caramel version prepared with beurre salé has been especially esteemed. Every season Parisians fervently await the shop’s innovations.

Hermé, who now has seven boutiques in Tokyo and three in Paris, says the macarone itself is merely a medium for new flavors. With his philosophy, I have decided to throw myself into this adventure of my own....a bi-weekly invention of my flavour combinations.

To debut this Macaron series, I will introduce you to the "le macaron noir", as the link to my earlier article "All Blacked Out!"

~ sésame macaron à la crème de sésame noir ~

Please do re-visit for recipes and my inventions!


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