Ispahan. Normally it just comes out of my mouth as Ispa-shmeee? In the real world, where one sometimes has to pretend to be a normal, functional part of society: Is-paaah-han. (Hopefully?)
This is my second edition of “knock-off” macarons… again inspired by a Pierre Hermé creation (while he was working for Ladureé), which has, since its conception, flooded the pastry scene to become a widely available flavour combo at many different bakeries.
This time, the macaron flavour-trio (rose, lychee, raspberry) was meant for one of my awesome friends (the lovely lady that I went to Morocco with)! She had mentioned how she wanted to try it ages ago, and way back when I promised I would try and make it for her.
Despite my initial plan to carefully construct this macaron, the ingredients were more or less thrown together because I decided to make these guys slightly last minute.
The key thing here was finding rose petals... obviously I feel that rose flavouring would be the best bet. But firstly, that stuffs expensive, and secondly, I was doing my shopping on a Sunday (when EVERYTHING is close in Paris/France), and finding rose petals was a miracle... I didn't ask for more! (And, as always natural > artificial.)
Rose Macarons - What you need:
- 110 grams of almond meal, dried out in an oven at 110 celsius for around 10 minutes
- 200 grams of confectioner's sugar
- 100 grams of aged egg whites (Leave them in a sealed container on your counter top for 24 hours.)
- 50 grams of caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon crushed (EDIBLE) rose petals*
+ other ingredients to make the Ispahan
- Rose water meringue-style buttercream (recipe below!)
- 1 small can of lychees, drained and chopped into small pieces. If they still seem too wet (you don't want soggy macarons!) dry them off further with a kitchen towel.
- 1 pint fresh raspberries
*These rose petals are bought at a specialty store or baking store. They are NOT rose petals from your significant other left over from Valentine's Day... those ones contain heaps of chemicals that you don't want to eat!
Rose Macarons - What you do:
In a food processor, blend together the almond meal, confectioner's sugar, and rose petals. Pulse it a few times to get rid of the almond meal lumps/break up the rose petals. Sift the mixture into a large bowl to get rid of any large bits. Set aside.
In another large bowl, beat the egg whites on high until they become slightly foamy. Add the caster sugar slowly, while beating, and then continue to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. At this point you will have a meringue - it will be perfect when you can flip the bowl over without the egg whites sliding down the bowl.
Spoon the stiff egg whites into the almond mixture. Fold the mixtures together carefully, but don't over beat! You should count your stirs and make sure they're under 50.
Spoon the macaron batter into a pastry bag, and pipe out small circles (4-5 centimetres) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tap the baking sheet a few times on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
Allow the macarons to rest on your countertop for around an hour before baking.
Pre-heat your oven to 140 - 150 Celsius (depending on the size of your macarons, I always use 140C). Once preheated, bake your macarons for 13-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half way through the baking process.
Allow the macarons to cool for a moment, then pop them off the parchment paper onto a cooling rack. They should come off really easily, and if they don't, just place them back in the oven for another minute or two. Cool completely before filling... with...
Rose water meringue-style buttercream - What you need:
- 2 egg whites, at ROOM TEMPERATURE (from large eggs)
- 80 g caster sugar
- 90 g butter, room temp cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon rose water
Rose water meringue-style buttercream - What you do:
Set up a double boiler. I made a make-shift double boiler with a small sauce pan filled with a few inches of water (that I brought to a simmer) and a bowl – just make sure your bowl or pan does not touch the water, or else your eggs will cook into an omelette. In a large bowl (again, I used the same one on top of my simmering water for the double boiler) whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Once combined, place the bowl on top of the sauce pan with simmering water and continue to whisk the eggs and sugar together.
Whisk the eggs and sugar for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Occasionally, stir the mixture with a rubber spatula to get the sugar off the sides of the pan.
To test if the sugar is dissolved, pinch it together in the bowl. It should be smooth, not grainy.
Once the sugar is dissolved, take the mixture off the heat and begin to beat the egg whites on high speed. Beat for around 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture should be thick and smooth, and the egg whites should have cooled.
Add one pat of butter at a time into the mixture, while beating at high speed. Add the butter slowly, ensuring each pat is fully incorporated into the mixture before adding another pat of butter. This should again take around 10 to 15 minutes. Go s.l.o.w.l.y. for best results.
If the buttercream becomes thin and liquid-like, pop it in the fridge to cool for around 15 minutes.
Add the rose water, and beat until fully incorporated, smooth, and creamy.
I added some rose petals into the frosting that I re-hydrated overnight (aka: rose petals soaked in water for 8-12 hours).
Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag. Pipe a bit out onto one macaron cookie, then add a few pieces of chopped lychee. Add raspberries around the edge of the macaron. Pipe a small amount of frosting on the macaron cookie for the top, and LIGHTLY press the two cookies together. Fill in the gaps with more frosting.
I've posted macaron recipes countless times on Bakecetera, but I'm not sure how often I have remembered to recommend that you leave your macarons overnight (or even better: 24 hours) in a fridge before serving them. The flavours develop so much better when you do this, and the filling mingles oh so nicely with the macaron shells. Just take them out of the fridge 20 to 30 minutes before eating. They should be eaten 2-4 days after their creation!
Baking soundtrack - Tunes to inspire your inner baker:
Ok guys, I'm becoming a French rapper. C'est ça.
(Rep'ing France and South Africa! - I said whhha?)
and also Hope Anthem (< much softer.)