Thursday, 30 June 2016

Elephant Macarons with Salted Egg Custard and Earl Grey Filling

I have a request for some elephant macarons. Here they are :)


I had a brainwave to fill half of them with runny salted egg custard because someone who tried my recipe for salted egg yolk swiss meringue buttercream left a comment in my salted egg yolk macaron crab post that the salted egg yolk flavour was not strong enough. You could always add more salted egg yolks to the buttercream to enhance the flavour but I was feeling adventurous. While this idea sounds exciting, I wondered how to achieve a runny consistency that stays runny when refrigerated. Read on and I share my secret with you ;). The salted egg flavoured macarons are filled with salted egg yolk swiss meringue buttercream and runny salted egg yolk custard. The other half of the macarons were filled with whipped Earl grey white chocolate ganache.

I decided to use the reduced sugar recipe that is explained in detail in another post.

Reduced sugar macaron shell recipe
Ingredients (makes about 45-50 macarons, 90-100 shells):
Mass
210g superfine almond meal
196g icing sugar
11g rice flour
4g cornflour
1/8 tsp salt
Pinch of charcoal powder
Yellow and blue gel food colouring*
83g egg whites

Italian meringue
78g egg whites
196g castor sugar
73g water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)

* You may use natural yellow powder food colouring and dried blue pea flowers to reduce the need for gel colouring. My Creative Baking: Macarons book has more details on the use of these two natural food colourings. The book also has the elephant template that I use here.

Steps:
1. Prepare elephant template and baking sheet on baking tray.

2. Prepare mass. Sift almond, icing sugar, rice flour, cornflour and salt together. Add egg whites and mix well to form a thick paste. Divide into three equal portions. Colour each portion accordingly with charcoal and gel colouring.

3. Prepare Italian meringue. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until 115°C without stirring. In the mean time, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks at medium low speed. Reduce speed if temperature of syrup is not reached yet. When syrup is ready, remove from heat, turn mixer speed to high and slowly pour syrup into egg whites in a thin stream, avoiding the beaters. Continue beating at high speed for 10-15 minutes or until cool, stiff and glossy. Portion about 1 tbs of meringue to stick baking sheet to baking tray. Divide the rest of the meringue into three equal portions.

4. Macaronage. Fold meringue into masses in two additions. First addition is about a third. Please refer to this post for video tutorials of macaron basics such as how to fold the batter. You may refer to my macaron book too. The batter is ready when it falls off the spatula in a slow moving lava-like manner.

5. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with 6-7mm round piping tip. Pipe the body of the elephant. Switch to 4-5 mm piping tip to pipe trunk and legs. Use toothpick to pull batter in place. Bang tray in table to remove trapped air bubbles.

6. Dry the shells in aircon room and/or under a fan for about 2-3 hours (reduced sugar recipe tends to take longer to dry) or until dry to touch. You may use the regular macaron shell recipe without sugar reduction of you don't wish to wait for too long.

Piping the elephants!

7. Bake in preheated oven at 140°C for 10 minutes at lowest or second lowest rack. Rotate the tray and bake at 130°C for 8 minutes. If the feet appear wet, reduce temperature to 120°C for another 5 minutes and check again. Cool completely before removing from tray.

Freshly baked !

Decorate the shells with royal icing and edible black marker

All decorated!

Dry the icing thoroughly in the oven with the fan on but with the heater on briefly for several seconds. I used the wet-on-wet icing technique to create the polka dots on the elephants' ears.

Creating macarons with runny centers require the runny filling to be encased in another firmer filling that will not turn the shells soggy. Therefore you need an outer layer of buttercream to contain the runny salted egg yolk custard. Other examples of this would be salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream encasing runny salted caramel, and lemon swiss meringue buttercream encasing runny lemon curd.


Salted egg yolk Swiss Meringue Buttercream 
Ingredients:
250g vanilla smbc**
6 salted egg yolks
2 tbs (30g) milk

** Please refer to this post for reduced sugar vanilla swiss meringue buttercream (smbc) recipe.

Steps:
1. Separate the salted egg yolks from whites. Steam the yolks for 9 minutes and mash with a fork while hot. Add 30g of milk to form a paste. Sieve the paste through a fine sieve to remove big lumps.

2. Add mashed salted egg yolks in a few batches to vanilla smbc. Mix well with a whisk or electric mixer. If using frozen smbc, let the smbc come to room temperature, whip it up before adding the salted egg yolks. You may store the smbc in the fridge or freezer in ziplock bag if not using immediately. Thaw and rewhip before using.

Vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and salted egg yolk puree with milk


Salted egg yolk lava custard
This version of salted egg lava custard when eaten on it's own may taste like something is missing as there's no sugar and butter added. I made it without added sugar as it is paired with sweet macaron shells and salted egg yolk swiss meringue buttercream that is already slightly sweet and salty at the same time. Addition of butter to the custard causes it to cease to be runny or separate in my two failed experiments as it is harder to control the consistency with another variable ingredient included in the custard. Since there is already lots of butter in the buttercream encasing the custard, you will not miss the richness of butter in the entire filling. The overall effect of my version of salted egg yolk filling is a macaron that has a stronger salted egg yolk flavour without being too sweet.

Ingredients:
56g + 20g full fat milk at room temperature or slightly warm. Not chilled.
9g instant custard powder*
2 salted egg yolks
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

* Instant custard powder is different from regular custard powder as it does not require cooking. A custard/pastry cream can be made simply by combining instant custard powder with milk or water and whisk until well combined and thickened. The consistency of the custard can be easily adjusted because only milk and custard powder is required to make the custard :). Many thanks to Shirley, a home econs teacher who told me about instant custard powder! You may use more instant custard powder if you want a firmer custard filling. You may make your own runny custard from scratch using less processed ingredients if that's your preference. I love the convenience of instant custard when I had to experiment with creating a custard that is runny when refrigerated.

Steps:
1. Separate the salted egg yolks from whites. Steam the yolks for 9 minutes and mash with a fork while hot. Add 20g of milk to form a paste. Sieve the paste through a fine sieve to remove big lumps.

2. Dissolve sea salt in 56g of milk. Add instant custard powder and stir for a couple of minutes until powder has dissolved and the mixture has thickened a little and appears smooth. Add vanilla extract and mix well.

3. Add salted egg yolk puree in 2-3 batches to the custard and mix well until well combined.

4. Place a cling wrap over the surface of the custard if not using immediately and store in refrigerator.



Assembly
Be careful how you pipe as you need to create an impermeable layer encasing the runny custard. Unless you have chosen to make a firmer custard, things can get quite messy if there's a hole in the buttercream layer.

1. Transfer the buttercream into piping bag fitted with a 4-5mm round tip. Pipe a layer of cream on the base shell.

2. Pipe a second layer to outline the elephant. This creates a wall to contain the custard. If you want to achieve a truly runny lava custard effect, pipe another layer of wall such that the cavity can contain more custard. A single layer of wall will just create a flavour enhancing salted egg yolk center, which is fine too :).


3. Transfer the custard into piping bag with a small hole cut at the end. Carefully fill the cavity with custard.


4. Carefully pipe more buttercream to cover the custard.


5. Carefully put the top shell over the filling and gently press down a little. Refrigerate in airtight container for at least 24h before serving.

Here are the other macarons filled with whipped Earl grey white chocolate ganache.


If you are a fan of salted egg custard in steamed buns, croissants, cakes, french toasts etc, you will enjoy this macaron version :). Thank God that these cute elephants were very well received in terms of looks and taste!


With love,
Phay Shing

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