Love is in the air… Well, not quite. See, my mother is very much into the whole feng shui thing and has been somewhat concerned about my lack of a love life for the last few years, and so has started placing arrangements of red roses on my bedhead to ‘introduce romance into my life.’ I always roll my eyes at her latest phases, and I suppose having roses in my bedroom isn’t exactly something to complain about.
Anyway, over the course of my exams I am still thinking obsessively about food. I was reading a recipe lately for Earl Grey infused chocolate truffles, and after reading some macaron recipes, I’m thinking… Earl Grey macarons?? I was thinking over the idea of infusing the ganache with the Earl Grey leaves and then sandwiching them with a plain shell, but I realised that ganaches only use a very small amount of cream. I did a cursory search on Google and was surprised to find that Earl Grey macarons are not actually unusual, and that the thing to do is to grind the tea leaves into powder and incorporate it into the shells.
I also found a basic macaron recipe which looked slightly different to the previous ones I’ve tried before (where most have somewhat failed in one way or another). While following Adriano Zumbo’s macaron recipe has provided me with my prettiest, smoothest macarons, the amount of sugar in them (icing sugar and sugar syrup) is enough to make my teeth rattle in my jaw. So I set out into the unknown, armed with a new recipe, head held high.
I rummaged through our tea cabinet and found a box of Madame Flavour tea bags, Earl Grey with lavender flowers and lemon myrtle, and thought it would be appropriate. I had a little snort at the description saying that the loose leaf tea came in a ‘sensual’ infuser pod. Whatever.
I had read on some other blogs that a teabag per egg white is usually sufficient for enough flavour, so as my recipe called for approximately two egg whites, I used two tea bags.
I then cut the bags open, and ground up the tea leaves in my mortar and pestle to a fine powder (or dust).
Once this was done, I prepared the other ingredients required for the macaron shells. For about 40 small, 4cm in diameter single macaron shells, you need:
- 110g icing sugar
- 60g almond meal
- 60g egg whites (about two eggs) – aged for at least 24 hours at room temperature
- 40g caster sugar
1. After grinding your tea leaves finely, mix them in with your weighed out almond meal and icing sugar and sift. The more times you sift them, the smoother they will look, although I can only really be bothered to do it once. When I made my Matcha macarons the day after, I went to the effort of sifting them twice, and the effort was noticeable. But do what you like.
2. Put your egg whites in a large bowl, and if you want to colour them, add food gel/colouring at this point in time. I used a mixture of Royal Blue and Black Wilton Food Gel, and kind of over-did it, so they ended up being Smurf blue. Oh well.
Close enough, anyway.
3. Whip your egg whites with an electric mixer until they’re frothy (about 30 seconds on medium high), then with the motor running, gradually add all of the caster sugar until it turns into a thick, glossy meringue with stiff peaks.
4. Add the sifted dry ingredients into the meringue in three batches, folding in carefully with a spatula or a large metal spoon. Once fully incorporated, the mixture should flow like magma. (NB: My mixture was a little thicker and drier, which resulted in not very smooth macarons without the polished finish. Next time, I’m going to experiment with adding about 30g of extra unwhipped egg whites when I fold in the dry ingredients).
5. Pipe your mixture onto your trays, in 4cm circles, about an inch apart. Tap the tray firmly on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Set aside in a cool room for 30 minutes to an hour until a ‘skin’ forms and no mixture sticks to your finger when you touch them gently.
I chose to sprinkle on some ground up Earl Grey tea leaves at this point in time.
As soon as you’ve set them aside to rest, preheat your oven to 140 degrees Celcius. When the macarons have rested sufficiently, slide them into the oven and bake them for 12-15 minutes. A sign of a successful macaron is the little ruffled ‘foot’ that should appear after 8-10 minutes of baking!
To remove my warm macarons, I used a tea towel to dampen my tabletop before I slid the baking paper with macarons stuck on them onto the slightly damp surface. Using a skillet, I successfully slid each one off, with not a single one sticking. The combination of the residual heat and the moisture creates a steam that loosens the macaron, but don’t leave them for too long otherwise they will go soggy.
While I had been waiting for my macarons to rest earlier, I made my lemon white-chocolate ganache. You will need:
- 140g white eating chocolate;
- 90 ml cream;
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest.
The recipe I found originally called for 100g of white chocolate, and my ganache was simply too runny, so I ended up melting another 40g into it. Melt the cream and chocolate together in a dry, heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bottom of bowl not touching the water surface), stirring until incorporated. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon zest and cool at room temperature until a spreadable consistency. The amount of ganache this makes is enough to sandwich together two lots of the macaron recipe above, which is why I ended up making macarons the day after as well!
Overall, I was very pleased with the texture of the macarons, and I definitely will be continuing to use this recipe, although making some adjustments to get the right consistency (and also not adding so much dye next time!). I stored them in this box overnight in the fridge, and while they were tasty the night I made them, the Earl Grey flavour really came through the day after, and it was amazing!
Haha my Smurf-blue, yummy Earl Grey & Lemon macarons. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, lovers! xx