I can always trusted to be about three seasons late into food fashions. I like to think it's really a healthy ambivalence to food crazes that come and go, especially since they usually involve exorbitant prices, long lines, and not to mention a lot of silly hype. Much like witnessing the crowds go wild for the freshly-touched down Beaujolais Nouveau while in Japan. I'd rather be never than early, and sometimes better late than never. I suppose going by this rule I'll probably find out sometime in mid-2009 why donuts warrant TOTO-worthy lines that snake way across the Raffles City Marketplace atrium.
So when I was digging about for something I ate last weekend, I came across old archived articles about Pierre Hermé's visit to Singapore, which apparently caused a stampede and an instant black market for tickets to this and that. The fascinating bio of Monsieur Macaron aside, there was also the shock of finding my coveted dessert, with exactly the same name and ingredients, being attributed to him. These Ispahans, named after the variety of rose that gave the macaron its flavor, these delicate mini-stacks of raspberry, lychee and rose petal cream, were staring from the dessert counter of Bakerzin. Surely we're not seeing the McMacaron?
In any case it was gorgeous and enticing enough for a second go, sometime before I leave next week. And here is the recipe I found on a rather random Pierre Hermé tribute page.
(Makes about 42 x 55mm shells - roughly 60 smaller petits fours)
For almond paste for macaroon base
390g ground almonds
390g icing sugar
145g fresh egg whites
5g carmine colouring
5g strawberry colouring
380g granulated sugar
145g egg whites (older ones are better)
2g powdered egg white
For the rose petal cream
900g butter cream*
50ml rose syrup
Optional: 90g creamed butter with 5ml essence of rose
* Butter cream recipe incorporates enriched crème anglaise and Italian meringue - see opposite page
For assembly (per Ispahan)
2 x 55mm macaroons (see separate recipe)
20g-25g rose petal cream
1 heaped tsp chopped lychee (see note at end of recipe on opposite page)
2 drops glucose
1 red rose petal
The equal quantities of ground almonds and icing sugar, mixed together, is called a "tant pour tant" by pastry chefs. Beat in the egg whites to form a tacky dough.
For the meringue, put the sugar and water in a pan and boil to 121°C (1). Meanwhile, start whisking the egg whites and powdered egg until they start to rise.
While continuing to whisk the whites, pour the boiling sugar on to them in a steady stream so the sugar cooks the whites (2).
Continue whisking at a moderate speed until the temperature of the meringue drops to between 45°C and 40°C.
Put the almond paste in a mixing bowl and beat in the colouring (3). Beat in about a fifth of the warm meringue. Fold in the rest of the meringue and work it well until it obtains a dropping texture (4).
Prepare a baking sheet. On it place a sheet of baking parchment with 55mm circles marked on it. Leave 1cm gaps between each circle.
Fill a piping bag with a Savoy plain tube (10 or 12 mm) with the mixture. Pipe about 42 macaroon circles (5).
Lift the tray, tap the underside all over with your free hand. Each circle will spread a little and even out.
Leave the mixture in a warm, dry place for 35 to 40 minutes before baking.
The macaroons are ready to bake when their surface is smooth and no longer sticky. If you don't allow them to set their surface will crack during baking.
Preheat a convection oven to 165°C. Put the tray of macaroons in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Every oven is different. They are ready when the surface is crisp and the underneath is also set and lifts easily off the baking sheet.
Enriched creme anglaise
140g egg yolks
140g caster sugar
Boil the milk. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together till the sugar has dissolved (6 & 7). Pour the milk over the yolks and then pour the mixture back into the pan (8). Heat to 85°C. Take off the heat and pour into a cool bowl. Whisk the mixture until it whitens, thickens and cools.
125g egg whites
15g caster sugar
250g granulated sugar
Whisk the egg whites and 15g sugar until well risen and quite firm. Boil the granulated sugar and water to 121°C. while continuing to whisk the whites, pour on the boiling syrup in a steady stream. Whisk until the meringue is cold, shiny and firm.
450ml crème anglaise*
750g softened unsalted butter
350g Italian meringue*
* See two previous recipes
Combine the ingredients together either by beating or whisking. They may appear to separate, but will always come back to form a smooth emulsion.
• Note: there's enough of the mixture for about 1.5 recipes.
To make the rose petal cream, beat the butter cream and rose syrup with optional creamed essence (9).
Put one macaroon shell on the work surface, flat side up. Pipe a circle of rose petal cream around the inside of its circumference and lay seven raspberries on the cream (10).
Spoon the chopped lychee into the centre of the ring (11). Pipe a small blob of rose petal cream on the lychee (12).
Fit the second macaroon shell on top (13). Refrigerate for 24 hours for the best result. Pipe two small drops of glucose on the top macaroon and use to fix the garnish of a raspberry and a rose petal (14).
• Note on lychees. Pierre Hermé uses tinned lychees. Whether using these or fresh ones, they need to be dried out before use, otherwise their moisture will leech into the macaroons and ruin the texture. Cut the lychees coarsely. Put them in a colander or sieve. Leave to dry out for 24 hours before using them.Source: Restaurants and Institutions