Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Christian Themed Easter Macarons

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Easter is less than two weeks away. Why not think of some Easter themed bake :). Here's my attempt at cross shaped macarons and Easter egg macarons with Christian themed designs!

I made these along with naturally coloured rainbow iced gems and Pandan Kaya Gula Melaka flower pot cupcakes for high tea for a church event that I had the honour of contributing to. Keep a lookout for those posts! Here's a sneak preview of all the bakes at a glance for the dessert table :)

Easter is a reminder of God's love and salvation plan for a sinful mankind through the death and resurrection of Jesus. So I decided to focus the designs on the cross and hearts to represent God's love and Jesus' sacrifice for us.

You may refer to this post for video tutorials for macaron basics and this post for video tutorials on how to pipe complex shapes. If you are able to, do grab a copy of my newly launched Creative Baking: Macarons book as the techniques are presented in a more systematic way.

The basic recipe I use is the same for all macarons, with variation in flavouring and colouring ingredients.  Briefly,

Basic macaron shell recipe
200g almond meal (preferably superfine)
200g icing sugar
200g caster sugar
160g egg whites, divide into two equal portions
75ml water
Dutch processed cocoa powder, Earl grey tea powder, gel food colouring*

*Amount of cocoa and/or tea tea powder depends on how many crosses you want to make from the batch of batter. A few grams per 100g of almond meal would be sufficient to add some brown shade and flavour.

1. Prepare mass. Sift almond and icing sugar together. Add half of egg whites and mix well with a spatula. Portion the mass into the respective colours and add the necessary colouring/flavouring. Mix well. Make sure you weigh the individual coloured masses. Here's a peek at my "working" when I work with many colours during a single session of macaron bake. I calculate the estimated percentages of mass for each colour and work out the meringues required for each colour according to the formula in step 2.

If the figures look like they don't tally it's because I like to tweak the final weight of mass for each colour. Note that these figures are for the Easter egg macarons, an ombre pink macaron "cake" (will post in near future) and the nautical macarons. The crosses were baked on a separate day with Chip n Dale macarons.

2. Prepare Italian meringue. Beat remaining egg whites in a clean metal bowl on medium low speed until soft peaks while boiling caster sugar and water until 115°C without stirring. Increase mixer speed to high and carefully pour syrup into egg whites. Beat for another 10 minutes or until cool and stiff glossy peaks form. Divide the meringue into portions for the respective masses using the formula: weight of meringue = 0.55 x weight of mass

3. Fold Italian meringue into masses in two additions until batter flows in a slow moving lava-like manner. Check the video on how to fold and check consistency.

4. Transfer to piping bag and pipe ovals or crosses onto baking tray with template under baking sheet. Bang the tray hard a few times to release trapped air.

5. Rest the shells until dry to touch (about 1-2 hours). Bake in preheated oven at 135°C on lowest rack for 17-20 minutes or until feet no longer wet, rotating tray halfway. Cool completely before removing shells from baking tray. Bake at 120°C for 5 minutes more if the feet still appear wet after 20 minutes of baking.

Just to share some pictures of the process...

Piped ovals. Love the pink ombre! 

Baked oval shells! 

I tried mixing different hues of brown to attempt making wood patterns on shells...

...but it didn't show up well probably because I didn't add enough batter of other shades. I might as well have stuck with one shade :p.

Freshly baked shells!

Wood patterns were added on using edible brown marker. Start with drawing the wood pattern with a fine tipped brown marker.

Use a thicker marker with lighter brown hue to highlight certain lines

Add more fine lines between the spaces and darken some lines to add accents. You may dab gently the surface of the shell with a paper towel after completing.

All drawn!

Eggs decorated with royal icing.

I filled the crosses with whipped Earl Grey White Chocolate ganache. You may refer to this post for the recipe. I filled the Easter eggs with dark chocolate ganache. Feel free to vary the ratio of white/dark chocolate : heavy cream for the ganaches depending on how firm you would like the filling to be.

Dark chocolate ganache recipe
150g dark chocolate, chopped
50g heavy cream
15g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/8 tsp fine sea salt

1. Heat cream until bubble starts to appear in small pan. Remove from heat. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave, stirring between 20 seconds of heating at medium power.

2. Add cream to chocolate. Stir in one direction with a spatula. Add vanilla and salt. Mix well.

3. Let the ganache sit at room temperature for half an hour or until toothpaste like consistency. Transfer to piping bag and pipe onto shells.

Filling up the Easter eggs!

Filling up the crosses!

4. Store in airtight container in the fridge for at least 24 h before serving. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before eating.

Thank God that these were very well received with some people asking for more crosses!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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