THE HOME BAKERS COLLECTIVE: FEBRUARY PROJECT

If you don’t know what the Home Bakers Collective is all about, I invite you to read my post about it with a click here. This month’s challenge was conceived by the one and only Carlos, Tent-Baker-Extraordinaire, Newly-Dad of Franklin Chip, a chocolate lab who is the most adorable thing roaming the planet at the present time. Check him out. Back to the challenge. Methinks Carlos made this one for me. Because, seriously, look at his brief: If you were a macaron, which macaron would you be? Can you imagine my sheer joy?  Of course, I could not wait to bake this batch, although it was not as easy and straightforward to decide what to do. I had two main paths in my mind, one focusing on color, the other on flavor. It was tricky to come up with something that would join both harmoniously. So I went with flavor. Tropical, of course, but with some spice. Swirls and sprinkles, of course. Because by now everybody knows I am a serial sprinkler.

SALLY’S SPICY MANGO AND COCONUT MACARON
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the shells:
200 g powdered sugar
115 g almond meal
115 g egg whites at room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
100 g superfine sugar
orange gel color from Artisan Accents
2 drops coconut extract

for the mango gelee filling:
2g gelatin (powdered or 1 sheet)
water to bloom gelatin (10 mL if using powdered)
60g sugar
60g water
60g mango puree (I used canned)
2tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp Sarawak pepper, ground
1g agar

for the coconut ganache filling:
4g powdered gelatin (I used Knox)
20g cold water
375g heavy cream
130g white chocolate
1/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
to decorate:
Royal icing or Candy melts + sprinkles (optional)

Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam.

Slowly add in the granulated sugar in three to four additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the coconut extract drops. Staying at medium-high speed, whip until firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Divide in two portions, color one orange, leave the other plain. Proceed with the macaronage, mixing each mixture to the correct texture (molten lava is the term of choice, I like to form a figure 8 with the batter and also check a small amount placed on parchment, the texture should smooth out in 30 seconds or so).  Place both batters inside the same piping bag fitted with an 8mm tip, or any tip you feel comfortable for piping.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull, about 30 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Make the gelee filling: Bloom the gelatin by submerging it in water until it softens, about 10 minutes.  Combine the 60g water with mango puree, lime, pepper and agar. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, add gelatin.  Pour into a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and place in fridge until set.  Cut small circles that will sit in the center of each shell.

Make the coconut ganache. Place the powdered gelatin into a small saucepan along with the cold water, let it sit for 10 minutes. It will turn into a hard paste.

Add the heavy cream into a saucepan along with the shredded coconut. Simmer until it almost boils, turn the heat off, cover the pan and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Drain the shredded coconut, bring the weight back to 375g with additional heavy cream. Bring to a simmer, then add to the chocolate. Add the gelatin, and mix well to incorporate everything together and melt the chocolate. Use an immersion blender if desired. Place the mixture in the fridge for a few hours. It is best if made the day before and kept refrigerated. Whip before using.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a round of mango gelee in the center. Surround with coconut ganache. Close the shell.

Decorate the tops with swirls and sprinkles. Because, why not?

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: This was my first time making a double filling for the macarons and there’s definitely a learning curve associated with it. For instance, the agar-layer generates a bit of moisture, so if you are not consuming the macarons within two days, the texture will suffer a bit. I think the issue can be prevented with a very thin layer of melted white chocolate before filling the shells, to form a barrier.  But if you intend to consume the macarons in a couple of days, I would not worry about it.

The pepper. I had several options to try, including Szechuan peppers that would probably be pretty cool to use also. In the end, I sat down with Mr. Pierre Herme’ and he advised me to search for Sarawak pepper. Well, ok, it was not exactly him, flesh and bone (borrowing a Brazilian expression), but his book. Minor detail. So I amazoned the pepper, and used the same amount he did in his Mahogany Macarons, recipe found here. My agar layer is however totally different from his filling, just the pepper in common.


I loved the contrast of mango-gelee and the shell, plus the creaminess of the ganache around it. Infusing the ganache with shredded coconut gave it enough flavor, and more natural than coconut extracts, which often will give that odd sun-tanning lotion aura.

Did I  hit my self-macaron perfectly? Well, it is not as colorful as I could make it, but I think the swirls and sprinkles compensate for the restraint in the color department. The taste is spot on, to quote a certain judge from a certain baking show. What do you think, does it “look” like yours truly?

Carlos, I loved this challenge and I can hardly wait to see what everyone else baked!

To all my readers, make sure to stop by The Home Bakers Collective, and say hi to my friends, each one waiting for you with a very personal macaron in hand. (It might take a few hours after publication of my post for the collective to get updated, so try later if there’s nothing there yet).

ONE YEAR AGO: Bouillabaise for a Chilly Evening

TWO YEARS AGO: Bergamot-Cherry Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Veggies with Queso Cotija Dressing

FOUR YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

FIVE YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

SIX YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

NINE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

TEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

 

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