Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Osmanthus Macarons with Osmanthus Pastry Cream and Wolfberries

My successful attempt at making green tea macarons motivated me to try making macarons again, particularly tea flavored ones as the green tea macs were really yummy without being overly sweet. Just as matcha and azuki beans are a natural pair, osmanthus tea and wolfberries are often paired together too. I happen to have osmanthus tea leaves and dried wolfberries at home so I didn't wait to get started. Here's my round and flower-shaped osmanthus macarons with osmanthus pastry cream filling topped with succulent wolfberries! Had a busy day so I only did simple decoration on four macaron shells.

Most recipes you find from the internet for making tea flavored macarons involve grinding almond, icing sugar and dried tea leaves/flowers together. I don't have an appliance at home suitable for this step and I didn't want to risk the almond powder forming a paste during the grinding process so I resorted to a primitive but very effective method of making fine tea powder from osmanthus tea flowers!

I took 6g of osmanthus flowers, lay them out in a thin layer on a tray and toasted them at 100 degrees Celsius for half an hour. This is to dry the flowers completely. I poured the flowers into the mortar you see in the picture and pound away for a few minutes until I got tea powder. I sifted the powder with a fine sieve and put any dried flower bits that couldn't pass through the sieve back into the mortar and rework it for a couple of minutes until almost all the dried flower bits could pass through the fine sieve.

The recipe for making osmanthus macaron shells is exactly the same as that for matcha macarons except that you replace green tea powder with osmanthus tea powder. I added a teeny bit of yellow gel food coloring to the almond powder, icing sugar, egg white and tea powder mixture to bring some color to the final product. My mixture looks like this:

I was careful to turn up the speed of my stand mixer when pouring the syrup into the egg whites this time and it only took me 4.5 minutes to get a smooth and stiff meringue.

I am still trying to get the hang of gauging how much to fold during the macaronage stage and I think I may have overfolded a little this time as the feet of the macaron shells were smaller and some of the flower shaped ones had no feet! They still look great when piped onto the trays :P

I used a cookie cutter as the stencil to draw a template for piping the flower-shaped macarons. I used a similar piping technique as the one that I used for piping heart-shaped green tea macarons for these flower-shaped ones. I.e. Instead of filling the flower shapes on the template completely with batter, I "drew" the flowers by:
1. Position piping tip vertically over the center of a petal and squeeze the piping bag.
2. When the petal is almost filled (about 2mm away from the template border), drag the tip towards the center of the flower as you gradually release the pressure on your piping bag.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for all the other petals.

Filling the templates right up to the border will result in flower patterns that look like irregular shaped blobs.

Freshly baked macaron shells!

I decorated four macaron shells with some chopped wolfberries that have been soaked and patted dry with paper towels and two tiny osmanthus flowers for the round macs. I painted the tops of the shells with dilute royal icing sugar and stuck the decorations on. The royal icing sugar that I use is the just-add-water type.

Recipe for osmanthus pastry cream is adapted from here. I halved the recipe for my small portion of macarons and reduced the amount if sugar by a teaspoon or two. I also strained the pastry cream before transferring it into a bowl and covering it with cling wrap touching the surface of the pastry cream. It's my first time filling macarons with pastry cream and I love it for it's simplicity and the fact that it uses up the left over egg yolks from making the shells. After letting the pastry cream set for 4 hours, I filled the shells and topped the cream with dried wolfberries that have been soaked in osmanthus tea for 5-10 minutes and dried with paper towels. I didn't want to risk the juicy wolfberries thinning out the pastry cream so I didn't fold them in although that would have made the work easier.

We had some friends over at our house tonight and they enjoyed the macarons :). My younger kid loves it too although my elder one prefered the macs without the wolfberries (that kid thinks it's strange to put wolfberries in desserts). If you are a fan of osmanthus tea and wolfberry combination, this would be a wonderful sweet treat for you!

With love,
Phay Shing

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