Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Mooncarons (Swiss Method)

I began my quest of making macarons that look and taste like mooncakes two years ago so this is the third year I am giving it a go again and this time round, I can say that I am presenting mooncarons!

I have to thank my friend for exclaiming that these are "mooncarons" when she saw them. These are proper mooncarons, not just some mooncakes stuffed with a macaron in the middle 

Just some background to my experiment making these. Two years ago I made a few attempts, trying out different ways of making the mooncake pattern. The experiment included imprinting the surface of partially dried piped batter using mooncake moulds and indenting the surface of partially dried shells with toothpick. Both do not work so don't try 😂. Unless you happen to have liquid nitrogen and a custom made metal mould for imprinting piped batter. You can read all about my first attempt over here. Last year I focused on getting the taste of the filling right and you can read about it here. This year, I thought of experimenting yet again to add some height to the "mooncake" and change the process of making the shells by tweaking the recipe and process, such that the shells don't end up being too fragile and soft due to the use of gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) for meringue but still tastes great.

As always, begin by making your template. I used the mooncake mould imprinted part to trace out the outlines. This can only be done if you use the plunger type of mooncake mould because you can't do that with traditional wooden moulds.

This is the first time I am trying out using granulated gula melaka and icing sugar to make the Swiss meringue and am rather pleased with it. The resulting macaron shells aren't as fragile and still has that wonderful aroma and taste that is similar to traditional baked mooncake "skin". The macaron shells have the added advantage of having a lower GI because of the replacement of white caster sugar with coconut palm sugar. I usually split the egg whites into two batches for Swiss method now but in this case, I use all of it for the meringue to ensure that all the sugar is dissolved in it. This is also the first time I am trying out using the stand mixer to do most of the macaronage process.

Ingredients (makes about sixteen to eighteen 5cm mooncarons):
Dry ingredients
85g superfine almond flour
85g icing sugar
1/2 tsp cocoa powder (use 1/4 tsp if you prefer lighter brown)
1/4 tsp cornflour (optional)

Swiss Meringue
75g egg whites
60g granulated gula melaka (coconut palm sugar)
20g icing sugar (with cornflour/cornstarch already added)
A pinch of salt (optional)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)

1. Prepare template and line baking tray with parchment paper. Set oven rack to lowest or second lowest position. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

2. Prepare the Swiss meringue. Place all the ingredients in mixing bowl of stand mixer if using a stand mixer for meringue. If not any regular clean metal or glass bowl will do if using handheld mixer.  Place mixing bowl over a saucepan filled with a bit of water. Make sure the water in saucepan doesn't touch the base of mixing bowl. Turn the heat on to medium low heat while whisking the contents in the bowl continuously. Monitor the temperature of egg whites using a candy thermometer. Heat until temperature reaches 48-50°C. This process may take up to several minutes so prepare for a workout 🤣. The reason why you should heat slowly is because all the sugar had to be dissolved before you whip it up using electric mixer. If the temperature rise is too fast, some sugar may be undissolved and the meringue won't turn out well. Remove bowl from saucepan once temperature is reached. Use electric mixer or stand mixer to continue beating the meringue at medium speed until stiff peak. Note that the meringue shouldn't be beaten until it is so stiff and dry that it balls up inside the whisk (applicable for French method only).

Swiss meringue using gula melaka and icing sugar 

3. Scatter dry sifted ingredients into meringue in 3 batches. After each addition, turn mixer on to medium high speed for a couple of seconds just to incorporate the dry ingredients. After all the dry ingredients are added, use a spatula to gently fold the batter to ensure that everything is incorporated well. Test the consistency of the batter. If it falls off the spatula in a continuous or almost continuous ribbon, it is ready. If not, continue folding and check again. You may refer to the video tutorial here for the right consistency.

4. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with a wilton #5 or 6 tip. Pipe the base of the shells. I use three shells for each macaron, with the middle shell as a ring. Let the top shell dry until a sticky membrane is formed before switching to wilton 1s tip to pipe the patterns. Unclog the tip if necessary as you pipe. Remember to bang the tray after piping to flatten any peaks and pop any bubbles trapped.

Top shell

Middle shell

Bottom shell

Dry in aircon room until dry to touch before baking.

5. When about to bake, preheat the oven to 170°C. Place baking tray in oven. Immediately turn temperature down to 140°C. Bake for 20-25 min or until feet doesn't appear wet for top and bottom shells. The ring should take about 15 min to bake. Let the shells cool on the tray completely before carefully peeling the parchment paper away from the macaron shells. If the shells are stuck, bake for another few minutes before checking again. You want to bake the shells until biscuit-like as the filling will soften the shells. Do note that baking temperature and time is just a guidine as each oven is different. Because coconut sugar is used, I bake them longer than if I use regular white sugar as it is more hygroscopic (tends to retain moisture).

Freshly baked shells! 

As with my previous attempts, I use gel food colouring dissolved in vodka to create a paint to give the shells an egg washed look that traditional mooncakes have. Use a mix of electric yellow and teeny bit of chocolate brown. You may want to oven dry the shells at 70°C before filling if the paint has turned your shells soft.

Please refer to this post for detailed recipe for the mung bean filling and salted egg yolk filling. You may Google for a lotus paste recipe if you prefer lotus paste instead of mung bean paste. Just thin it out with whipping cream as I mentioned in the post for the filling. The assembly sequence is shown below from left column to right.

1. Coat bottom shell with mung bean filling. 2. Place ring on top of bottom shell. 3. Fill cavity with a ring of mung bean filling and salted egg yolk filling in middle. 4. Coat top shell with a layer of mung bean filling. 5. Sandwich top shell on middle shell. 

Refrigerate for a day in airtight container before serving. Let the macarons sit in airtight container at room temperature for 15 min before opening and serving to prevent condensation from atmosphere onto the shells.

I love the view of the cross section! 

As you can see a lot of time and effort has been taken to come up with this so please acknowledge my hard work of you ever replicate this. Thank you and hope this will help you bless your loved ones at Mid-Autumn Festival this year!

With love,
Phay Shing