Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Panda Macarons with Lemon and Chocolate Fillings (baking tips included)

I have a request for panda macarons so here they are :)


Lemon and chocolate flavours were requested so I made half with lemon swiss meringue buttercream and lemon curd...

Yums!

...and half with milk chocolate ganache...

Yums too!

I used the same basic recipe as my Mickey mouse macarons, so I will not type out the detailed steps here but instead highlight points to take note when baking fancy, light-coloured macarons. As usual, I prefer to use a template to get fairly regular shaped and sized macarons.

You can find this template from the internet but I scaled it to fit 20 bear heads on one A4 sheet.

I find that regular baking sheets are good enough. There is no need to invest in expensive specialized silicone mats for macarons.

Panda macaron shells
Ingredients (makes about 102 shells/51 macarons):
200g almond meal/powder (preferably superfine)
200g icing sugar
200g caster sugar
75ml water
160g egg whites (divide into 2 equal portions, preferably aged but not absolutely necessary)
1 tsp charcoal powder (or black gel colouring if you don't have)
White gel food colouring (optional)

Steps:
Please refer to my Mickey mouse macaron recipe for detailed steps. (Update 20/8/2015: Check out my video tutorial for macaronage and testing of batter consistency.)

 Almond, icing sugar and egg white mixture (mass). 

- Add white food colouring to the mass if you wish. I left about 1/4 cup of Italian meringue unused as the batter would be too runny if I used all of it.
- I portioned out about 1/3 cup of batter (after folding in the meringue) and added 1tsp of charcoal to colour it black. It is ok to overfold this portion.
- It is safer to under than to overfold. Your batter continues to be "folded" as you pipe out the batter. This is especially true for complex-shaped macarons (keep a lookout for my next macaron post ;)). Do watch a video demo of how to do the macaronage many times to get a better idea of the consistency required. 

I decided to have a front (panda face) and back (tail) shell for each macaron. This design and recipe is adapted from Cakelets and Doilies

- A wilton #5 tip (about 2mm) was used to pipe the black features.
- You may wish to pipe a more oval shaped head instead of round circles to make the panda more bear-like but it is trickier to do so.
- Remember to tap the tray on the table to release trapped air bubbles or your macaron shells will have pock-marks.
- Try to lift-off piping tip at the center of the circle so any "nipples" can be covered by the black panda nose. I know this is cheating a bit hehe. But my batter didn't have this "nipple" problem anyway.

Freshly baked pandas! 

- Bake at 130-140°C for 17-20 minutes with tray at lowest or second lowest position in oven to keep panda faces from turning brown. There is a fine line between baking long enough so that the shells can be easily lifted off from the baking sheet and short enough so that no noticeable browning occurs. So keep an eye on those macs! Don't worry,  these are not like chiffon cakes that will collapse if you open the oven at the wrong time.
- Rotate the trays 180° after you see feet forming (about halfway through baking) if your oven heat distribution is uneven.
- Bake once the shells are dry. I was busy with kids so I left mine out for longer than necessary. As a result, the feet don't stick outwards as much and the shells were a bit hollow. But the good outcome was none cracked! Do check out in my later post for macs that are not dried for too long. Much nicer feet!
-Do not bake if the shells are still sticky to touch with a finger! The macs will crack or have no feet. I made this mistake a few times.
- Try oven drying at low temperature (60°C fan mode for 30 minutes) like I did for Peppa pig macarons instead of aircon drying like I did for Mickey mouse to speed up drying process in hot and humid Singapore.  *update (17/5/15): now that I have more experience making macarons, I find that oven drying with the fan mode may cause the shells to have uneven bumps. If you have many trays of macarons to bake, you should skip oven drying as the time that the first tray has been left out is usually long enough for the shells to dry in an air conditioned room. If you choose to speed up the drying process by using the oven, use it to dry the shells partially (e.g. 10 minutes at 60°C) without the fan mode, and dry it completely in the open or air conditioned room. Bake once the shells are dry to touch.

Lemon filling
80g lemon curd*
100g lemon swiss meringue buttercream (smbc)**

* Please refer to this recipe for lemon curd. Simply substitute lime with lemon.

Smooth and tart!

** Make lemon smbc from 75g of basic smbc and 25g of lemon curd. Use spatula to mix the lemon curd into the smbc.

Chocolate ganache
Please refer to this recipe for chocolate ganache recipe. I used the leftovers that were frozen from my Peppa pig macaron bake.

All the filling just before assembly

Assembly
Arrange the macaron shells as shown in the second and third picture of this post. Place all filling in piping bag or ziplock bag and pipe out as shown. Sandwich the shells together and chill in fridge.

All packed and ready for party!

Of all the fancy macarons, pandas are probably the easiest to make :). I hope the tips I shared here were helpful although I am not an expert and the tips are not exhaustive. Don't give up if you fail. I had my fair share of failed macarons!

I am submitting this post to Best Recipes for Everyone Jan & Feb 2015 Event Theme: My Homemade Cookies organized by Fion of XuanHom’s Mom and co-hosted by Victoria Bakes.

Thank God the pandas were well received! 

Update: please refer to this post for detailed explanation of macaron preparation process with some photos included.

With love,
Phay Shing



6 comments:

  1. aw!!! these are so lovely phay shing! i love to invite you to link this up to Best Recipes: My Homemade cookies (organised by Xuanhom Mom's) that I'm co-hosting for this month.. https://bakingintotheether.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/cappuccino-cookie-cup-with-coffee-pudding/

    i do hope to see you there :)

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  2. Thanks Victoria for the encouragement and alert :). Will definitely link up when free. I have been really busy so didn't keep a lookout for events.

    Your bakes are all so awesome!!! Love them lots!!

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  3. Yes,really cute!I wish I could have 1 too
    Thanks for sharing with Best Recipes :-)

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  4. Hi Phay Shing,
    These panda macarons are too cutie to be eaten. .. hee .. hee !

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Karen for your compliments :). My kids are very happy to eat any leftovers hehe

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