I had my first proper cup of Masala Chai just over a week ago and I actually really enjoyed it. I remember having a Chai Latte once in a well-known coffee shop and I thought it was a disgustingly sweet mug of rancid liquid. So I assumed Masala Chai was the same thing, how wrong could I be. I’m not much of a tea drinker, but this milky infused treat is something I could start to enjoy regularly. So, masala chai macarons!
Where did I have this Masala Chai I hear you ask? Don’t worry, I’m not about to include a series of photos of a recent trip to India where I ‘found’ myself and this exotic drink was made for me by one of the locals. Instead, I had it on a recent trip to a local curry house and it rounded off my chicken jalfrezi perfectly.
I wasn’t really sure what Masala Chai was, but after the waiter’s explanation, I really wanted to try one. I was told the drink would take around 10 minutes to prepare, I felt a bit guilty as nobody was having dessert, but my companions didn’t seem in a hurry to leave, so I threw caution to the wind and ordered one.
It came with quite possibly the biggest bay leaf I had ever seen and a mix of cardamom, peppercorns and pistachios were at the bottom of the cup. After reading up on the drink, it seems that there isn’t a definitive recipe, however some ingredients always feature, cardamom, black peppercorns, ginger, cinnamon and a mix of cloves/nutmeg or star anise can be added, it’s really a matter of personal choice.
I liked the flavour so much, I decided I wanted to bake something Masala Chai inspired. This Friday is ‘Jour du Macaron’, if your French is as basic as mine, that’s Macaron Day, so I thought I’d make macarons with a masala chai ganache.
Macaron Day was created 10 years ago by Pierre Herme and other members of the Relais Desserts to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis. On Friday 20th March 2015 a number of Patissiers around the world will be offering a selection of macarons and donating the money raised to charity to celebrate 10 Years of Macaron Day.
Some patisseries are getting into the spirit by creating one-off flavours and others may even be giving away free macarons. William Curley has been gearing up for macaron day and their Richmond and Belgravia Stores will be taking part. They have special flavours up for grabs and the chance to win William Curley goodies, you can find out more here.
Pierre Herme in London will also be offering special flavours and donating the proceeds to charity, you can find out more on their Facebook page.
Unfortunately I won’t be anywhere near London on Friday and I’m not aware of any Patisseries in my area taking part in this event, so I shall have to settle for my own Masala Chai Macarons.
So far, I’ve only ever made macarons using the Italian meringue method. I’d love to say that in the spirit of this blog, I’ve taken the plunge and used the French meringue method… I haven’t though, I just can’t bear to, as the Italian meringue method has never let me down and from what I’ve read the Italian method is more stable when baking large batches, I really wanted these macarons to look perfect.
I promise for my next batch, I’ll use a French meringue and perhaps I’ll be a convert. It’s here in black and white, so I have to do it now. Normally the colour of the macaron shell is indicative of the flavour. I didn’t want these macarons to be brown though, as I wanted a contrast against the ganache. For ages I’ve wanted to try sprinkling the macarons with the powdered food colouring I bought (I’m sad I know), so this seemed like a good time to test it out.
Word of warning, if you’re going to attempt decorating your macarons using this method, buy some gloves, otherwise your hands will get stained, also the best tool for the job is a toothbrush – unused, you don’t want your macarons to taste minty!
If you have trouble piping the macarons there are some great templates around for free online. I used this template by Pizza Rosa, you can cut it down to whatever size baking tray you have, just lay greaseproof paper over the top and use a little of the macaron mix on the underside of the greaseproof paper to keep it in place. Pipe the macarons onto your trays and then give the tray a tap with your hand to flatten the macarons.
Then dip your toothbrush in the powdered colouring, flick the bristles with your gloved hand and the colouring will spray on the wet shells. It will suspend there whilst the macarons cook too. I used two colours to create a Jackson Pollock effect.
The masala chai ganache is really simple to make, the cream is infused with spices and then left to cool, before straining, reheating and pouring it onto the chopped chocolate, then butter is added to the ganache and stirred until melted and the ganache is combined.
The macarons cook really quickly, mine took 11-12 minutes a tray. Be sure to turn the macarons half-way through the cooking time and cook them one tray at a time. I thought it didn’t matter and I used to put a couple of trays of macarons in at a time. This doesn’t really work as they release moisture and cook at different rates depending on where they are in the oven, so to get the most even and accurate cooking, I urge you to bake them one tray at a time.
The macarons are left to cool on the baking tray and then paired up with similar sized macarons and filled with the ganache. It helps to make a small indentation with your thumb on the underside of one of the macarons as this keeps the ganache in place and stops the filling from splurging out.
If you want to make these masala chai macarons the recipe is here:
- ***Masala Chai Ganache***
- 300ml Double Cream
- 1Tsp Fresh Ginger, peeled
- 2 Cardamom Pods, crushed
- ¼ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- Pinch of Nutmeg
- ½ Pieces of Star Anise
- 1 Clove
- 2 Black Peppercorns
- 2 Twinings Everyday Teabags (or Assam, Darjeeling, English Breakfast)
- ½ Tbsp Granulated Sugar
- 350g Amedei Milk Chocolate, chopped (or any milk chocolate that is at least 35% cocoa)
- 25g 70% Amedei Toscana Dark Chocolate, chopped (or any 70% cocoa chocolate)
- 50g Unsalted Butter
- ***Macaron Shells***
- 200g Ground Almonds
- 200g Icing Sugar
- 50ml Water
- 175g Granulated Sugar
- 150g Egg Whites (about 3 eggs)
- Place the double cream and spices in a saucepan and bring the cream to a boil.
- Take the cream off the heat and add the teabags, poke the teabags beneath the surface and leave the cream to infuse for around 10 minutes.
- Strain the cream and pour it back into the pan, add the sugar and bring it back up to a boil.
- Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted, then add the butter and continue to stir until the butter has melted and the ganache is thick and glossy.
- Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Next make the macaron shells, preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line four baking trays with baking parchment.
- Add the water and sugar to a pan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Bring the syrup to a boil and heat until it reaches 118 degrees.
- Put 75g of the egg whites into a stand mixer and whisk them on medium speed until frothy.
- Pour the syrup in a slow steady stream into the egg whites as they are being whipped on a high speed. Keep whipping until the meringue forms a stiff peak, about 5mins.
- Grind the ground almonds and icing sugar together in a food processor and then sift them into a clean bowl.
- Add the remaining egg whites to this mix and beat it, until it forms a paste.
- Add a third of the meringue to the almond paste and beat it in thoroughly.
- Fold through the remaining meringue, ensure the ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
- Put the macaron mix into a piping bag and pipe out 72 macarons.
- Tap the bottom of the tray to remove any bumps or air pockets, then put the macarons in the oven for 12mins per tray. Turn the trays halfway through cooking to ensure an even bake.
- Let the cooked macarons cool completely before trying to remove them from the tray.
- Match the macarons up into similar sized pairs and gently make a small indentation with your thumb on the flat side of the macaron, then fill with the masala chai ganache
- Gently make a small indentation with your thumb on the flat side of the macaron and then fill them with the masala chai ganache and sandwich with another macaron.
- Keep the macarons in an airtight container for at least an hour before eating, but if you can wait, they'll be much better the next day. They should last for 2-3 days in the fridge.
If you do find yourself near a patisserie tomorrow and they’re participating in Jour du Macaron, why not pop-in and get a treat for yourself and do someone else a good turn. I’m going to have to settle for one of these, life’s so hard!
Thanks for reading.