I'm starting to feel slightly foolish about slating the macaron craze. See, I have been making more of them. It's becoming a bit of an addiction. Like gambling. Only instead of wondering whether or not my horse will come in, I am betting on whether or not I'll get good mac shells, with smooth tops and feet. I love the pressure and not knowing!
I don't know what came over me - flowers from the garden and all that - but I seem to have found my inner Mowie Kay!
A week or so ago I was in the Isetan food hall in Shinjuku, Tokyo, which is something of a macaron paradise. I was shopping for sakura mochi, which I have a bit of a thing for (I won't eat the cheap ones you can get at supermarkets and convenience stores), but ended up seduced by the bright colours of the almond discs.
I don't remember whose counter I ended up at (I know it was opposite Aoki Sadaharu, but that's all), and went for a jasmine and mango flavoured macaron. The girl behind the counter asked if I wanted it wrapping. Ha! I snaffled it up right there.
In all honesty, it wasn't up to much. Very sweet, and the shell wasn't chewy enough. But I liked the flavour combination, and so when I found some jasmine extract in my favourite Parisian baking supply store the following week, I didn't hang around.
I have a ton of mango purée on hand for another, top secret project (I love a little blog suspense), so the macs this week were actually a way of using up leftovers. A little economical luxury in the kitchen, if you will. Mixed with some mascarpone cheese, the purée made a perfect filling for the mango-coloured shells.
I used the same recipe as usual for these macarons, flavour differences allowing, but changed the way I bake them. I usually fold a double thickness of greaseproof paper, and bake them on that, on the thick metal tray that came with my oven, but last time it stuck and I was so devastated that I almost killed myself. Not wanting to undergo such suicidal feelings again this time, I decided to switch things up, and bought some 'Baking Paper' (not parchment) from Tesco. I am in love; the shells lifted clean off and had perfect bottoms. Photographic evidence is included with this post. Basically, I am never using anything else again!
Mango and Jasmine Macarons
You will need:
110g icing sugar
50g ground almonds
1 tsp jasmine extract
2 egg whites (60g), aged for 24 hours (just leave them on the kitchen counter, uncovered)
40g caster sugar
small dab of tangerine food colour gel
50g mascarpone cheese
40ml mango purée
- Sift the 110g icing sugar into a large bowl, and mix in the almonds.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, then slowly whisk in the caster sugar until you have soft peaking meringue. Add the dab of colour gel and jasmine, and carry on whisking until stiff peaks form.
- Add the almond and sugar mixture, and fold in. You are supposed to do this in exactly 50 strokes, and turn the bowl 45° after every tenth stroke. I don't think it's of paramount importance - you should just have a smooth mixture.
- Put this mix into a piping bag with the end snipped off, and pipe circles about 2 inches in diameter and well spaced apart on a lined baking sheet. You should have between 28 and 30 blobs of mixture. Let's call it 29.
- Let them sit for 30 minutes while you pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
- Bake for 12 minutes on the bottom shelf. Cool completely on the sheet, and then remove using a pallet knife.
- For the filling: beat together the mascarpone and mango until smooth and pale orange in colour; use to put the macarons together.