This beautiful photo was taken by my friend at the birthday celebration. I am ashamed to say that my photography skills are terrible!
I took this photo at home, trying to make use of fading sunlight after a long day's work of assembly. Needless to say it pales in comparison to the one my friend took!
Checkout the wheel in motion!
Again, my friend took a much clearer video of it although it didn't show the full range of motion...
Here's my version showing how smooth the wheel turns.
Pandan Gula Melaka flavour was requested. I personally would have gone all the way to include coconut as well to make this Ondeh-Ondeh flavoured but someone in the party is allergic to coconut so I have to leave it out. After trying out brown sugar replacement in the Italian meringue for salted caramel macarons, which was a hit, I did not hesitate to replace half of the caster sugar in the Italian meringue with Gula Melaka this time round. Why only half and not all, you may ask. It's because I didn't want the light coloured or blue shells to need too much white gel colouring to mask the browning due to Gula Melaka.
Recipe for reduced-sugar Pandan Gula Melaka macaron shells
180g superfine almond meal
168g icing sugar (with cornflour added)
11g rice flour
1g (1/2 tsp) cornflour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
70g egg whites
Gel food colouring
1/8 tsp caramel flavouring (optional)
1/8 tsp pandan flavouring (optional)
A few pandan leaves
88g Gula Melaka (buy powder form or finely chopped from block)
88g caster sugar
70g egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
1. Dry the almond meal, rice and cornflour together with pieces of pandan leaf in the oven at 90℃ for 30min. This is to impart some pandan aroma from natural source but optional if you don't want to go through the trouble. Discard the leaves. Cool to room temperature and sift together with icing sugar and salt.
Drying almond with Pandan leaves
2. Prepare templates on baking tray and line with parchment paper. Set oven rack to lowest position. Add egg whites to powder mixture to make a thick paste. Divide the mass according to how much of each colour you need and colour with natural source and/or gel food colouring. I used a pinch of red yeast powder for red colour.
3. Prepare Italian meringue. Place caster sugar, Gula Melaka and water in a tall saucepan. Bring to a boil to temperature of 115-118℃. In the meantime, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Reduce mixer speed to low if syrup temperature is not reached yet. Once temperature is reached, remove saucepan from heat. Turn mixer speed to high and carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites, avoiding the beaters. Continue beating on high speed for another 12-15 minutes or until meringue is cooled and stiff peaks form.
4. Use some of the meringue to stick the baking paper to the baking tray. Divide the meringue for the various colours. Use formula of weight of meringue = 0.51 x weight of mass. Fold the meringue into the mass in two batches until batter flows in a slow-moving lava-like manner. You may refer to this post for the basics.
5. Transfer batter into piping bags and pipe away! I am not ready to share the details of Ferris Wheel structure yet so I will not show in detail what the structure is like. Here's what I am comfortable to reveal..
Piping the sun!
Piping the man looking through his telescope at the planets! Note that I pipe double the number just in case one of them fail.
Piping the planets!
You may refer to this post on how to pipe complex shapes. Bang the tray on the table to release trapped air bubbles. Dry in air-con room or under the fan until dry to touch. Bake at 140℃ for the first 10 min before reducing temperature to 110℃ for the rest of the baking time. Bake until shells are dry. Duration depends on size of the shell. Cool completely before removing from baking sheet. If the shell is still stuck, bake at 110℃ for another few minutes and try again, more than once if necessary.
Freshly baked shells!
Decorate with edible paint and royal icing. I use edible markers, white gel colouring and vodka wash to create the designs on all the planets except Earth (royal icing).
I spray painted the Ferris Wheel frame with some white paint to create an outer space effect.
What I am really excited about for this project, other than the design, is the new non-refrigerated filling that I successfully experimented with. If you have been following my posts, you will realise that all my non refrigerated filling use white chocolate as the base (if it's not dark chocolate flavoured). White chocolate as you know, is way too sweet. I add vegetable shortening, salt, and tea flavoured fillings to compensate the sweetness level of white chocolate. This helps to a certain extent but sometimes not enough for the taste buds of some people. I was wondering what else I could use that is fairly neutral tasting but firm yet creamy in Singapore's hot and humid weather. Thank God for the inspiration when I thought about using mung bean paste! Chinese have been using mung bean paste as mooncake fillings to create a myriad of different flavours for a long time. I thought why not create a "cream" that is mung bean based then. And since the filling will be prepared from scratch, I have absolute control over how much sugar goes into the filling, which I couldn't achieve with white chocolate. I did a trial and my family gave it a thumbs up when they ate Pandan Gula Melaka flavoured shells sandwiched with the same flavour of mung bean paste cream! Imagine my excitement 😍!
I adapted the mung bean paste recipe from Christine's.
Recipe for Pandan Gula Melaka mung bean cream (suitable non-refrigerated macarons)
Mung bean puree
200g dried deshelled mung beans
A few pandan leaves, knotted or cut into shorter strips
Mung bean paste
200 mung bean puree
36g Gula Melaka (more if you prefer sweeter)
32g milk (or coconut milk)
1 pandan leaf cut into smaller pieces
2/3 tsp salt
28g vegetable shortening (may replace with oil and/or unsalted butter for refrigerated macarons)
1/2 tsp caramel flavouring
1/4 tsp pandan paste
1/4 tsp coconut flavouring
2 tsp wheat starch
Mung bean cream
280g mung bean paste
20g vegetable shortening (replace with unsalted butter if you your final product is meant to be refrigerated)
Note: this recipe is catered for macaron filling so it tends to be less sweet but saltier, to be paired with macaron shells that already have high sugar content. Please adjust sugar and salt content accordingly if used in other pastries.
1. Prepare mung bean puree. Wash and drain dried mung beans a few times before soaking overnight. Drain the soaking water and rinse and drain one more time. Transfer beans into a shallow steaming plate. Add pandan leaves and cover the beans with enough water toll about 1cm above the beans. Steam for 30-35 min or until beans are soft. Drain away excess water and remove pandan leaves. Press the beans through a fine sieve. I didn't use the finest sieve I have so the paste wasn't as smooth as it should be although it still tastes great. You may freeze any excess puree for future use.
2. Prepare mung bean paste. Heat milk with Pandan leaf in microwave oven or in small saucepan. Let the leaf steep for 10 min. Discard the leaf. Place all ingredients except wheat starch in a nonstick frying pan or wok. Bring to a boil while stirring with a spatula. Once it's boiling, reduce heat to simmer. Keep stirring until liquid is reduced by two-thirds. Gradually add sifted wheat starch and stir until well combined. Continue cooking the mixture and stirring/kneading with spatula until a soft dough forms and all liquid has been cooked off, about 20-30 minutes. Note that you may want to cook it until it is drier than you would for mooncake fillings if using it
For macaron structures that require stability at Singapore's room temperature. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
3. Make mung bean cream. Cream shortening with electric mixer in a bowl. Gradually add mung bean paste and continue beating until mixture lightens up.
Left: Pandan Gula Melaka mung bean paste Right: the creamed version
Transfer the cream into piping bag and fill the shells!
Creating this Ferris Wheel has been challenging but I am more confident in making these now that I have more practice :). You may check out my first macaron Ferris Wheel creation over here. I made a miscalculation for the size of the planets. That's why I had to raise the platform to allow space for the planets to rotate fully. I better do my calculations more carefully next time and not just reuse my old template 😅
Thank God the wheel survived the trip intact! I delivered it myself while taking public transport. Everyone certainly had much fun playing with it and commented that the aroma is wonderful!
With love and much excitement,