Thursday 12 May 2016

Piano Keyboard Macarons (template provided)

My cousin requested for music themed macarons for her mum who is a piano teacher. My aunt used to teach me piano when I was young. Ideas such as a quaver note or a grand piano macaron were considered. But I think nothing is as cool as a piano keyboard with a macaron as each key! Thank God for the inspiration that came out of nowhere!

You may not realise these are macarons at first glance!

You may refer to this post for video tutorials or my Creative Baking: Macarons book for the techniques for piping simple angular shapes.

Template for one octave worth of keys on an A4 sheet. Arrows indicate how you should pipe. The thickness of the arrows indicate how much pressure you should apply on the piping bag. The thicker the line, the more pressure you should apply.

Please acknowledge the source here if you use the template as I have taken time to make it.

As quite a lot of batter movement with a toothpick is involved in creating sharp corners, I chose to use the regular macaron shell recipe instead of the reduced sugar version as I find the traditional recipe more amenable to manipulation without being "overfolded".

I actually made these piano keys along with some woodland creature, Charlie Brown and Snoopy macarons (will post in the future!) but I will write down the full recipe here which would be enough for a few octaves of keys :p.

Macaron shell recipe
100g almond superfine meal/powder
100g icing sugar
40g egg whites
1/4 tsp Dutch processed cocoa powder*
1/3 tsp charcoal powder*
Black gel food colouring
1/2 tsp white powder food colouring*
White gel food colouring*
A pinch of salt (optional)

Italian meringue
100g caster sugar
37g water
40g egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)

* use whatever powder or gel form of food colouring you have to obtain the desired colour. You may omit white colouring if you prefer.

1. Prepare baking tray with template on it and baking sheet over it. Use Italian meringue to stick the baking sheet down when you have made it. Please cut the portion of black keys out and place on another baking tray as black and white keys have different baking times.

2. Make the mass. Sift almond, salt and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add egg whites and mix well to form a thick paste.

3. Divide mass into ratio of 1:4 for black:white. Add sifted powder food colouring (if using) and/or gel food colouring to the masses. Mix well.

4. Prepare Italian meringue. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until 115°C. While the syrup is heated up, beat egg whites with cream of tartar (if using) until soft peaks form at medium low speed. Reduce mixer speed if syrup temperature is not reached. Once syrup is ready, turn mixer speed to medium high. Carefully pour syrup into egg whites in a thin stream avoiding the beaters. Continue beating at high speed for another 10 minutes until stiff, glossy and cool. Divide the meringue into 1:4 for black :white.

5. Fold meringue into mass. Please refer to my video tutorials for the macaron basics on how to fold and test batter consistency. For these keys, underfold slightly as the batter will continue to be "folded" as you nudge it with a toothpick. Fold meringue into mass in two additions until batter falls off spatula in a slightly discontinuous manner.

6. Transfer batter into piping bags fitted with #8 Wilton tip (about 4mm diameter).

7. Pipe the black keys as "narrow rectangles". Using the same principle, pipe the white keys by tracing the outline of the keys and using a toothpick to nudge the batter into the corners. Bang the tray on the table after piping to release trapped air bubbles and flatten any peaks.

Notes on piping: follow the arrows indicated on the template and the pressure you should apply on your piping bag. In order to get straight lines, try to keep the pressure constant as you trace the lines and keep the piping tip at a constant distance away from the baking tray. I know this may not be easy for those of you not used to piping. I can't get the lines perfectly straight either. You may use the toothpick to nudge any obvious "bumps" and mistakes in tracing.

8. Dry the shells in aircon room and/or under a fan for 1-2h or until you are able to run a finger across without it sticking to your finger. The black keys dry faster as they are smaller.

9.  Preheat oven to 135°C, set rack to lowest position. Bake black keys for 10 min, rotate tray and bake for another 3 min. Bake white keys for 10 min, rotate tray and bake for another 7-8 min at 130°C. Bake until feet no longer appears wet. Note that baking time may vary as each oven is different. Cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

Freshly baked!

I filled the black shells with dark chocolate ganache and the white shells with Earl grey white chocolate ganache.

I made a customized cakeboard out of cardboard, black craft paper and cling wrap to fit the keys nicely into a box.

My aunt loved the fact that the macarons are less sweet than commercially sold ones! This is so even though I used my regular shell recipe without sugar reduction. Choosing the right filling is the key to making macarons less cloyingly sweet.

With lots of love,
Phay Shing


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