I contemplated between baking an Angel Food Cake which would be a first for me or a batch of macarons. I finally settled on macarons. It has been a long while since I made these delicate french cookies - the last time round was for a Daring Bakers challenge.
This recipe has been somewhat tweaked from the original one. I decided on using an unopened bottle of rosewater extract which I had purchased about a year ago. Okey I confess ... I have food stuff that are unopened for this long! In addition I also had some white chocolate buttercream which I had made using more left over egg whites. The macarons came out great - zero spoilage. The only thing that was really off was that after baking, the macarons turned a shade darker with the end result colour being rose pink rather than a baby pink. I'm not complaining though!
Rosewater Macarons with White Chocolae Buttercream
Adapted from "Ottolenghi - The Cookbook"
110g icing sugar
60g hazelnut, very finely ground (you can also use almond)
60g egg whites, (about 2 eggs) aged 3 days in the fridge, then for about 3 hours at room temperature. You can also use 24 hour aged egg whites left open and unrefrigerated.
30g castor sugar (this is reduced from the original recipe)
1/2 teaspoon rosewater extract
Black sesame seeds, dried lavender flowers and pink sugar crystals for sprinkling on top of shells
Wilton pink gel colouring
Method for the Macaron Shells:
1) Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
2) In a large mixing bowl mix the egg whites with an electric hand beater (alternatively you can use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until it is frothy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, whisking all the while, until the mixture turns into a thick glossy meringue (soft peak). Then add in 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater and pink gel colour and mix a couple of times. Make sure the meringue is not over-beaten or else it will be too dry.
3) In a food processor pulse together icing sugar and hazelnut until finely ground and powdery. Sift the mixture to make sure there are no lumps.
4) Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the meringue. Give the mixture a quick fold to ensure that everything is combined. Add the remaining 2/3 dry ingredients and gently fold the mixture (about 50 folds altogether). Fold a few times to break the air. Continue until you get a smooth and supple mixture, thick in consistency so that when you lift the spatula it flows back in thick ribbons. Test a small amount on a plate – should the tops fall back and flatten by themselves then it is ready, if not give it a few more folds.
5) Fill a large piping bag with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (2 cm in diameter) on your prepared baking paper. Sprinkle the top of each macaron with the black sesame seeds, dried lavendar flowers and crystal sugar. Leave the macarons to rest and dry for 30 minutes.
6) Preheat the oven to 160C. When the macarons are ready, bake the shells for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use a flat offset spatula to gently remove the shells from the baking paper and allow to cool further on a rack.
Using a spoon place a small dollop of the buttercream on one of the shells and gently cover with another shell. Do not press. Continue to do this with the rest of the shells.
If you are not going to be eating them right away you can store the shells in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Fill the macarons just before serving.
They freeze well too but it is recommended to freeze them unfilled. To fill them take the shells out of the freezer 48 hours prior to serving and without defrosting fill them. This way the flavors will be allowed to blend as they thaw.
White Chocolate Buttercream
(Makes about 6 cups)
10oz good quality white Chocolate
4 Egg whites
1 cup granulated Sugar
1 lb Butter, at room temperature
1) Place the chocolate and into a bowl and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Be careful not to let any water get into the chocolate or it will bind up. You may also place the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and microwave for 10 seconds at a time in order not to burn the chocolate. Removing it after each 10 seconds and stir.
2) Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Now start to gradually add the sugar a little at a time. When all the sugar has been incorporated beat on high till stiff peaks form.
3) Add the butter a little at a time.
4) Now add the melted white chocolate while beating slowly and then beat till smooth. The buttercream can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. To use, let it thaw and then rewhip it again to smooth consistency. Left over buttercream can be frozen for up to a month.