I will share in detail the recipe for Gula Melaka "baked mooncake" macaron shells (French method) and the "mooncake" filling in this post. The "snowskin mooncake" macaron shells were made using an old recipe so I will just provide the link to it.
I have always wondered what if we replaced caster sugar with brown sugar or even Gula Melaka for making macarons. Gula Melaka also has a glycemic index that is a third of white sugar, making it less harmful for diabetics. A yummier and healthier option! I had some leftover chopped Gula Melaka from making Ondeh-Ondeh and some aged egg whites in the fridge so I thought why not try it out. When using brown sugar, keep in mind that it is more hygroscopic in nature than caster sugar (tends to absorb moisture from atmosphere) and this may potentially cause problems when baking macarons. I overcome this by baking at a higher temperature for a longer time to really dry out the shells (overbaked by usual standards) and add a little more cornflour to the powdered almond mixture. Overbaking caramelizes the sugar more, intensifying the caramel flavour that is already present in brown sugar. The resulting macaron shells are softer to bite after maturing with filling than regular shells and the caramel flavour is amazing😍! You don't have to bother with browned shells since they are supposed to look brown anyway :p.
Recipe for Gula Melaka macaron shells
Ingredients (makes about seven 5cm mooncake macarons, 14 shells):
35g egg whites (about 1 egg), preferably aged
35g Gula Melaka*, finely chopped and sifted (not necessary to use an extra fine sieve)
48g icing sugar (with cornflour added)
37g superfine almond meal
1/2 tsp cornflour
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
1/8 tsp Dutch processed cocoa powder (optional, I added to deepen the brown colour a little)
*You may replace with fine brown sugar
1. Sift almond, icing sugar, salt, cornflour and cocoa powder together.
2. Prepare baking tray with mooncake template. You may use a scalloped cookie cutter to trace out the shape like I did. Line baking tray with baking paper.
3. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar on low speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add Gula Melaka and continue beating on medium low speed until stiff peaks form. The reason for using lower speed is to allow time for the sugar to dissolve. Alternatively, you may also use the Swiss meringue method using the same amount of ingredients to make the meringue. This also ensures that the Gula Melaka is dissolved in the egg whites. It is important to whip to stiff peaks and not just firm peaks.
Gula melaka meringue
4. Add in powdered ingredients in three batches and fold in carefully and gently using a spatula. When the powdered ingredients are incorporated, press the batter against the side of the bowl to deflate the batter a little until the batter falls off the spatula in a lava-like manner. You may refer to this post for how to fold and press the batter, and how to test the consistency of the batter.
5. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with a suitable sized tip, which depends on the cookie cutter scalloped pattern that you traced. I used a Wilton #6 for mine. Pipe the base of the mooncake and let it partially dry. Add the pattern details (I used Wilton 1S tip) and dry the shells under a fan or in aircon room until dry to touch.
6. Set oven rack to lowest or second lowest position. Bake shells in preheated oven (fan off) at 150℃ for 15 min and at 130℃ for another 5-10 min or until feet no longer appears wet. It is ok to overbake the shells and let it brown a little. Cool completely on the tray before removing. Note that baking temperature and time will vary as each oven behaves differently. They key is to overbake the shells such that it is crispy and slightly browner when freshly baked.
Freshly baked shells!
You may notice that my macaron shells have an "egg washed" look. Here's the magic that took place post baking as you can see from the picture below.
Adding on "egg washed" look
I am not releasing the details of how I made the scalloped edges look the way they are (you can't achieve this look by simply piping the batter the normal way) or how to add on the wash effect at this point in time but I am sure those of you who have been following my macaron blog posts will be able to figure out the tricks ;).
Here's a peek at the insides! The shells taste very close to my brown sugar cookies but with macaron texture!
Fluffy insides and no hollows!
The snowskin mooncake version was made using the reduced sugar recipe for the macaron shells (Italian method). Both regular and reduced sugar recipes can be found here. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a systematic presentation of the basics and complex shaped macarons. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics and piping of complex shapes on the blog too.
Just to share some pictures of the process...
Piped and partially dried base
Freshly baked shells!
At this point in time, I haven't figured out how to include lotus paste into the macaron filling since I was focusing on getting the look right. I used a reduced sweetness white chocolate ganache as the base and added on Gula Melaka to colour it brown such that it looks a little like lotus paste. The salted egg yolk center is really salted egg yolk mixed with the ganache.
Recipe for mooncake macaron filling
Basic vanilla white chocolate ganache
40g white chocolate, chopped (I used vanilla bean white chocolate)
40g unsalted butter
40g vegetable shortening
40g heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp Caramel flavouring (optional)
Gula Melaka ganache
65g vanilla white chocolate ganache
18-20g Gula Melaka syrup (melt 25g chopped Gula Melaka in 1-2 tbs water with one knotted Pandan leaf, set aside to cool)
1/8 - 1/4 tsp salt (according to taste)
Salted egg yolk ganache
13g vanilla white chocolate ganache
12g mashed cooked salted egg yolk (about 1 salted egg)
1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate, butter and shortening at medium power for 20 sec. Mix well with a spatula. Repeat until mixture is melted. Be careful not to overheat.
2. Heat cream in a saucepan until bubbles appear. Pour over white chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.
3. Add salt, vanilla and caramel flavouring. Mix well.
4. Freeze mixture for 2 minutes and mix well with spatula. Repeat until mixture thickens. Start to whip it either with spatula or electric mixer until it resembles whipped cream. This white base can be used as the outer ring of filling for the snowskin mooncake version.
5. Make the Gula Melaka ganache. Add salt and Gula Melaka syrup a little at a time to the vanilla white chocolate ganache, mixing well between each addition. Add as much as you would like according to taste and the depth of colour. This will form the "lotus paste" portion of the filling.
6. Make the salted egg yolk ganache. Mix mashed salted egg yolk and vanilla white chocolate ganache together. Press the mixture through a fine sieve if it is lumpy.
7. Transfer all three types of filling into piping bags. Fill the shells as shown below:
Snowskin mooncake macaron filling
Baked mooncake filling
8. Refrigerate in airtight container for at least 24h before serving. Let the macarons stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes before eating.
My dad and younger kid had first dips to the mooncake macarons and they said it was yummy! Here's a closer peek at the insides...