Monday, 20 July 2020

Nut-Free Bunny Macarons with Lychee Raspberry Rose Chiffon Cupcakes

Many people would love to have my macarons as part of birthday celebrations in school but have concerns about nut allergy. And so, I have experimented with another almond-flour substitution for these bunny macarons on lychee raspberry rose chiffon cupcakes.

Nut-free macarons on lychee chiffon cupcakes with lychee raspberry rose swiss meringue buttercream! 

In the past, I have made nut-free macarons using a combination of pumpkin seed flour and rice flour using both French method in this post, and the Swiss method in this post. An issue with this substitution is I needed to increase the ratio of icing sugar to almond flour substitution as pumpkin seed flour causes the batter to take a long time to dry, and just rice flour alone thickens the batter noticeably. This substitution is also gluten-free but not as easy to work with. Moreover, pumpkin seed leaves some visible specks in the batter and a light greenish hue, which is ok for deep, bright colours, but shows up obviously for plain white or pastels. The bunnies are white so using pumpkin seeds would have been problematic.

With the above reasons, I decided to try another nut substitution --- wheat flour. This is a rather common and cheap substitution but is obviously not gluten free. Since the requestor wanted cupcakes as well, gluten is not an issue. I chose cake flour as it has the lowest protein percentage. Less protein means a more delicate texture.

To my surprise the substitution works perfectly for my French method recipe that I like to use for teaching beginners. I didn't need to tweak the icing sugar to almond flour substitution ratio at all! Just substitute 1:1 ratio for almond flour : cake flour. The batter consistency is only slightly different from the standard almond based one.

Cake flour based nut-free macaron recipe
Dry ingredients
110g icing sugar
90g cake flour

80g egg whites
72g icing sugar
Pinches of salt (optional)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional, for stabilising meringue)

I don't want this to become a super long post 🤣 so please refer to this post for the steps. If you are already familiar with working with french method, then just do what you normally do.

Piped batter. You won't notice that this is nut-free if I don't tell you! 

I decorated the shells with black edible marker, peach coloured lustre dust and some store-bought sugar flowers which were glued on using royal icing

Recipe for lychee raspberry rose Swiss meringue buttercream 
Ingredients (for filling and frosting about 28 macarons and 44x35mm cupcakes) :
220g egg whites (about 6 eggs)
150g castor sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
380g unsalted butter, cubed and softened but still cool to touch
2tsp freeze-dried raspberry powder
1 tbs freeze-dried lychee powder (omit if unavailable)
2 tsp rose syrup
2 drops of pink gel food colouring
70g lychee puree (reduced over low heat from 100g of strained blended canned lychees)

1. Place egg whites, sugar, salt and cream of tartar (if using) in to a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water without the water touching the base of the bowl. Whisk the contents until temperature reaches about 70°C as read by a candy thermometer. Do not stop whisking or the egg whites may become cooked lumps.

2. Using and electric mixer, beat on medium high speed until the meringue is stiff and cooled to room temperature.

3. Add butter about a tbs at a time and beat using the electric mixer until well combined. Do not panic if the mixture appears to curdle. Just keep gradually adding the butter and beating until all the butter is added. Continue beating at high speed for another 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

4. Add freeze dried raspberry and lychee powders and beat until combined. Add rose syrup and food colouring and beat until combined.

5. Gradually add lychee puree that has been concentrated by reducing it into the buttercream, mixing well each time with the mixer.

You may use it immediately to fill the macarons and frost the cupcakes or prepare this in advance and freeze it in airtight condition. Thaw it at room temperature and rewhip before filling the macarons or frosting the cupcakes.

I filled the macarons with some chopped lychees too for that refreshing burst of lychee flavour! 

Recipe for lychee rose chiffon cupcakes
Ingredients (makes about twenty-eight 44x35mm cupcakes) :
Egg yolk batter
5 egg yolks
10g castor sugar
70g canola or any vegetable oil
60g lychee puree
1 tsp rose syrup
10g heavy cream (or milk or puree)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp freeze dried lychee powder, (dissolved in puree. omit if unavailable)
112g cake flour
1/4 tsp salt

6 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
100g castor sugar

1. Preheat ovem to 140C (as read by oven thermometer)  and place a tray of water at base of oven (optional but reduce baking time by 10 min if not using). Place cupcake cases on prepared tray.

2. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Add oil and whisk until combined. Add all puree, cream, vanilla and rose syrup and whisk until combined. Gradually sift in flour and salt and whisk until no trace of flour is seen.

3. Prepare meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks form or just reach stiff peaks, gradually adding sugar once the egg whites are foamy.

4. Quickly but gently fold meringue into egg yolk batter in 3 batches. Transfer batter into large piping bag. Fill the cupcake cases until about 80% full.

5. Bake for 40 min. Reduce temperature to 130C and bake for another 10 minutes or until skewer comes out clean or tops of the cupcakes bounce up when lightly pressed. Note that oven baking temperature and time varies with ovens used as each oven behaves differently.

Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting it. I used a 1M piping tip to pipe a swirl of buttercream before inserting the macaron cake topper.

You can't help but smile at this sight 😊

Everyone loved how cute theae cupcakes were!

With love,
Phay Shing

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