Recipe: Themed Macarons: World Cup 2014 with various fillings
Techniques: Italian Meringue, ganache
I decided to make something topical this week, the World Cup starts today in Brazil and what better way to mark this occasion than with a variety of macarons. Given that I mastered macarons in my previous post, I thought this week would be pretty easy, how wrong can you be. I was tested by a number of things, this is the first time I’ve used powdered food colourings, which provided me with lots of fun.
Also another stumbling block was that for one batch of the macarons, I didn’t following the recipe properly, meaning that the ratio of egg whites to syrup was wrong for my Italian meringue. Thankfully I realised my error before I made my final (and in my opinion my best batch) of macarons.
To help me decide upon my flavours, I wanted to use ingredients that were generally associated with Brazil and England. The macarons are flavourless (apart from the ground almonds), so the ganache is key to the flavour of the macaron.
First up I had a practice run, creating a white macaron with a painted St George Cross and filled with a strawberry ganache. The ganache was made from a mixture of fresh strawberries, white chocolate and sugar. This one was pretty easy to make and went without a hitch.
To paint the macarons, the powdered food coloring can be mixed with alcohol and painted on top of the macarons.
The second macaron in my practice run was a blue macaron imitating the blue disc in the centre of the Brazilian flag. I filled this with the caipirinha ganache.
I had a little trouble with this macaron, some of you may notice the blue macarons cracked or puckered on the surface, this was because I had over mixed my batter.
I didn’t know when to add the powdered food colouring, so I added it to the combined egg whites and ground almonds. This was a mistake! I had to really stir the batter to distribute the colour, this led to the problem with all of the air being knocked out of my macarons.
To finish off this macaron I made some royal icing and I iced a stripe and a few dots of icing on the top. I then sprinkled this with coconut to create a constellation effect.
These looked OK, but apart from the St George Cross, I didn’t think they were instantly recognisable.
So I decided to focus on the colours of the players kits, rather than the flag and so first up, we had Brazil with a passion fruit ganache. The recipe for the ganache is from Pierre Hermes and it can be seen here.
The ganache needed to be made first, so that it could set in the fridge. It’s a very simple recipe, so I wont go into detail about how I made it. There was a new ingredient this week as well, some passion fruit puree from Brazil that was kindly donated to me (thank you Diana)!
I’m not sure how easy it is to come across in the UK, I think that a lot of cocktail bars use something similar, as I found some of it on internet sites for the drinks industry, it was sold in quite large quantities though.
I thought this ganache tasted great as it was quite sharp, however I think it was an acquired taste as a few others were a bit unimpressed. I don’t think they really like passion fruit very much though.
The macaron shells needed for the Brazilian macarons didn’t go according to plan though…
I followed the recipe and I couldn’t get my Italian meringue to whip properly. I persevered with the meringue and halved the mix, adding yellow food colouring to one half and green food colouring to the other half.
Practically all of the air left the meringue and when I combined it with the ground almonds and icing sugar, I really struggled to get it to bind together.
Eventually I got them all mixed in, but I was anxious as my previous batch had cracked when I overmixed them. I thought I might have done the same here.
I piped them out and baked them for 12 mins per sheet.
The resulting meringues had an inconsistent texture and did not look as smooth as normal. I did not have a clue what had gone wrong. Disappointed I filled them with the passion fruit ganache and sandwiched them together.
I then came to make the ‘England’ Macarons and as I was weighing out my egg whites I had an epiphany as to why the ‘Brazil’ macarons hadn’t worked.
The quantity of egg whites needed to be divided equally between the meringue and the ground almond/icing sugar mix. For the first time ever I hadn’t done this, I just mixed all of the eggs with the sugar syrup and then ended up with a meringue that wouldn’t hold.
I still don’t know why I did this, it was a huge oversight. I am relieved to know the reason why they didn’t work though as I was completely baffled.
With that mystery solved I made the final batch the correct way, with a much higher level of success.
All that was left to do was sandwich together the macarons with the strawberry ganache. This batch turned out so much better, the macaron was smoother and had more shine and rise.
For this week’s macarons I used a carton of egg whites by the company “Two Chicks”. I wanted to be able to give them a proper review based on using them for these macarons, however after I screwed up the Brazil macarons, I was so nervous about the England macarons that I must admit I used fresh egg whites for them. So I’m not sure how good they are. The egg whites are easier to measure out, but I really need to give them another go before I can give an honest opinion about these.
So that’s it for this week and that’s it for macarons for a while. I need a break from them, up next is Viennoiserie.
If you’d like the recipe for the strawberry or caipirinha ganache please get in touch.
Thanks for reading.