Thursday, May 7, 2009

Black Sesame Macaron with Sweet Cream Cheese

French Macarons were the buzz cookies to bake and make during these past few years. Every magazine or website I visited, everyone was trying to concoct the sweet thin cookie that represents their tastes. Lavendar, pistachio, strawberry and simply anything that makes it more unique and desirable. I actually tried making it last year but ended up with a very flat cookie instead of which I turned into a sandwiching cookie for a durian cream filling! This year I wanted to try and attempt it again and with the craze having receded but not diminished wholly amongst all the other food bloggers, I feel at ease to really study the best recipe online and test my baking skills on this meringue based sweet that has swept the world by storm!

One thing that puts me off is any baked goods that requires alot of sugar. I didn't grow up eating alot of candies nor chocolates but rather rich and creamy stuffs like cheese and butter. However said, I haven't tasted Macarons before and I have some extra sweet cream cheese left in the fridge and the best reason was we were having a playdate and I can spread the sugar and fat around! Wicked me but I am sure the playdate moms are happy to try it out!

Unlike last time, I sifted the almond flour with the confectioner sugar and grounded black sesame seed powder together this time. I made sure the dry ingredients were totally free from lumps and finely sieved. The egg whites were separated from the yolks hours earlier and let sat in the mixer bowl for 2 hours before I proceeded to whip them up to soft peak. As long as they hold a peak and stable enough to stay on the whisk itself without dropping back to the bowl, it is ready. In the past, I always get very nervous when dealing with beaten egg white, especially when the folding in of the dry ingredients is concerned. But after numerous practices on cakes, I think I overcame that fear of deflating the egg white by learning to fold in with minimal and gentle strokes. The trick is to scatter the dry ingredients all over the egg meringue and fold in with a few big strokes.

Next came the piping part. I used a smaller sized piping bag as I find the big 16 inch one was too cumbersome for my hands and I didn't mind the numerous refilling of the bag with the macaron batter as long as I get all the sizes of the piped rounds uniform, or at least not overtly out of shape! For garnish, I sprinkled black sesame seeds on each one and let them sat and rested at room temperature for 45 mins. The batter does spread a little, so piping them within inches away is a good idea. I retained a constant oven temperature of 280F throughout the baking, and like all cookies, once removed from the oven, the cookies will still feel soft and the cooling period is very important to firm it up. Some of the cookies were sticky on the bottom when I tried to remove them and yet some, just came out easily with a little thumb pushing underneath the underlying parchment paper. Whatever it is , these cookies are rather delicate and the slight crisp dome part can puncture easily if not removed gently. I tried a piece and was terribly put off by its sweetness and wonder what the hype was all about... it was like eating a piece of baked sugar lump!

However, after putting in the filling, the sweetness was toned down and balanced with the tart of the lemon juice that I added into the cream cheese filling and the light whipped cream added to the cream cheese, made everything a perfect fit in terms of taste and texture. I think the type of filling is very important to this cookie, something rich and creamy and yet not any more sweeter than the cookie itself will be the best. I am happy that my mommy friends were pleased with the result and the whole plate were finished up so that I don't have any leftover to munch by myself, or else I will die of a fattening sweet sin! Having said so, I don't mind experimenting with other ingredients to make these cookies again.

Ingredients :

1/2 cup almond flour (grounded almond/Trader Joe's Almond Meal)

1/2 cup confectioner sugar

1 tbsp sugar

3 egg whites (room temperature)

3 tbsp black sesame seed powder (grounded black sesame seeds)

Method :

1)Line baking pans with parchment paper.

2)Sift the almond flour together with the confectioner sugar and black sesame seed powder. Make sure there is no lumps.

3)In a mixer, whip the egg whites to foamy stage and add the 1 tbsp sugar and continue to beat till soft peaks. The color needs to be glossy white and the beaten egg white can hold its shape.

4)Fold in the almond flour mixture in 3 batches and work fast but with less strokes. The batter will become slightly heavier.

5)Spoon the batter into a piping bag attached to a round piping tip and hold the piping bag 90' vertical, the piping tip barely touching the parchment paper on the baking tin. Squeeze gently and count to 3 and stop. Separate each one at least 1 inch and continue piping in the same motion to get uniformed sizes. This recipe should yield around 35 to 38 shells.

6)Let the shells rest at room temperature for 45 mins and sprinkle black sesame seeds on all of them. Preheat oven to 280F.

7)Bake the shells for 25 mins, rotating the pan once. Look out for the 'skirts' on the bottom part of each shell, this is a sign that the cookies is rising well. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 mins. Slowly remove each shell and let them cool completely before filling.

Cream Cheese mousse Filling:

6 oz of cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp gelatin powder dissolved in 1/4 cup water

300 ml whipped heavy cream


1) Beat the cream cheese with the sugar till creamy. Add in the lemon juice and beat for extra 10 seconds.

2)Stir in the gelatin. Fold in the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Let the filling rest in refrigerator for 2 hours before filling.

Makes : 15 to 18 macarons

1 comment:

Agnes said...

SLURP!!! =d