Monday 30 October 2017

Tapir Salted Caramel Macarons (shells made using brown sugar!)

My younger kid requested for tapir macarons for his birthday. Quite an unusual subject for a birthday request you may say. But not unusual for my kids since they have a very well loved tapir stuffed toy bought from the zoo! He requested for salted caramel flavour so I took the chance to experiment with using brown sugar to make the macaron shells. The caramel flavour it imparts is amazing! Here's my version of tapirs in the field :).

This is my first attempt at using brown sugar for the Italian method, but not my first attempt at using another type of sugar in making macaron shells. You may refer to this post where I used Gula Melaka (coconut palm sugar) for making French method macarons. Much as the procedure is the same and you can make a full substitution, please use a MUCH bigger saucepan when boiling brown sugar syrup as it can bubble up to many times its original volume. I almost couldn't heat it to the softball stage because the syrup was threatening to overflow when being boiled.

Recipe for brown sugar macaron shells
Ingredients ( makes about 50 macarons, 100 shells):
180g superfine almond meal
180g icing sugar
18g charcoal powder (omit if not black colored)
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
72g egg whites
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
Black gel food colouring

180g fine brown sugar
60g water
1/6 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
72g egg whites

1. Prepare baking trays with templates and baking paper. Set oven rack to lowest or second lowest position.

2. Sift together almond, icing sugar, charcoal and salt. Add egg whites and vanilla bean paste and mix well to form a paste. Add a few drops of black gel food colouring and mix well. Charcoal powder alone is usually not enough to achieve a deep black colour.

3. Place brown sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan and boil to 115℃ without stirring. In the mean time, beat egg whites with cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form. Reduce mixer speed if syrup temperature is not yet reached to keep the egg whites moving. Once the syrup is ready, remove from heat, increase mixer speed to medium high. Carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites, avoiding the beaters. Continue beating on high speed for another 10 minutes or until the meringue is cool to about body temperature. Use a bit of meringue to stick the baking paper down onto the baking tray.

Brown sugar Italian meringue.

4. Add about a third of the meringue into the mass and mix well with a spatula. Add the rest of the meringue and fold it into the mixture, pressing the batter against the side of the bowl after folding to deflate the batter a little. Continue folding until batter consistency is like slow-moving lava. Please refer to this post on how to fold the batter and test the consistency.

5. Transfer the batter into piping bag fitted with a Wilton #6 or #5 tip and pipe the body, legs and ears. Dry the shell partially before piping on pop-up features if desired. Bang tray on table to release trapped air bubbles. You may refer to this post on how to pipe complex shapes.

Piped shells!

6. Dry the shells under a fan or in air-con room until dry to touch. Preheat oven to 140℃ towards end of drying time. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until feet no longer appears wet. Cool completely before removing from baking paper.

Freshly baked shells!

Here's a peek at the insides of the shell....I love the sleek black colour :)

I filled the shells with a ring of salted caramel Swiss meringue buttercream and a dollop of salted caramel in the middle. Please refer to this post for the basic Swiss meringue buttercream recipe and salted caramel recipe. Make the salted caramel Swiss meringue buttercream (smbc) simply By mixing 80g of salted caramel for every 100g of smbc.

Filling up the shells!

After maturing for a few days, the aroma, taste and texture is amazing!

Ditch the caster sugar whenever you are making caramel flavoured macarons. Once you have tried brown sugar replacement, you will never go back to it ;).

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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