Pear and Elderflower Macarons

by thomandaimee

Last week was filled with plenty of drama in the kitchen, hence the little break before we embark on another upcoming dinner. Under lucky circumstances, we managed to work with a secret supper club Petals & Bowls. They embrace good food and company in lush gardens. Please support them!

This event got Thom & Aimee into a roller-coaster ride of hysteria. We didn’t know it will bring so many crazies. It was only after the whole affair that we could finally sit and catch our breath. But it was worth it, really.

There were a few items we made, but what we really love are the macarons. The French sweets have a huge place in our hearts. We even made our dear brother queue up in the winter cold for hours for a few bites of Laduree. They are pops of rainbows and unicorns.

One of the two macarons we did was the Pear & Elderflower. Elderberry trees are not native to Singapore, so getting fresh elderflowers would be difficult. We have read about this enchanting flower many times and dreamt of using it. They are usually readily available in summer in places that have proper seasons. (Damn you, rest of the World.)

Combining the summery scents of the elderflowers with the autumnal pear was just a ballad for the palate. With one bite and you get a bit of both seasons – just sheer delight. Sadly, we had to give most of them away. Or else, we’ll be munching on them.

Pear and Elderflower Macarons
Adapted from Spicy Ice Cream

Makes 36 macarons, 72 shells

For The Elderflower Poached pears
1 pear
240ml water
4 tablespoons of elderflower cordial

For the Macaron Shells
150g ground almonds
150g icing sugar
55g liquefied egg whites
7.5g red food colouring

+

150g caster sugar
38g mineral water
55g liquefied egg whites

For the Elderflower Buttercream
100g caster sugar
38g mineral water
75g whole eggs
45g egg yolk
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
Elderflower liquid from poached pears + more elderflower cordial to taste

Directions

Prepare the template for macaron shells by cutting a sheet of baking parchment that fits inside a baking tray. Draw circles measuring 3.5cm in diameter and space the circles 2cm apart.

To make the poached pears, peel, core and cut the pears into 8mm cubes. In a saucepan, allow pear and water to simmer on medium heat until pear cubes are tender and liquid resembles syrup. Strain pear cubes and reserve elderflower liquid. Allow to cool to room temperature.

To make the macaron shells, sift together the icing sugar and ground almonds. Stir the food colouring into the first portion of egg whites. Pour them into the mixture of icing sugar and ground almonds. Do not stir.

Place sugar and water to a large saucepan under low heat. Dissolve sugar before bringing it to a boil over medium heat at 118C. Do not stir the sugar mixture when it starts bubbling as it will create sugar crystals. Have a pastry brush with a bowl of cold water at hand. When the sugar boils, clean the sides of the saucepan with the damp brush.

While sugar is bubbling, simultaneously start whisking the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks. When the sugar reaches 118C, take the saucepan off the heat and pour the hot sugar in a thin stream over the egg whites. Whisk egg whites at high speed for 1 minute before reducing to medium speed. Continue to whisk for 2 minutes then allow meringue to rest until it cools down to 50C.

Tip meringue into the mixture of icing sugar and ground almonds. Fold the batter and stir outwards from the middle to the sides, rotating the bowl as you stir. Continue stirring until the batter is just starting to turn glossy, like slightly runny cake dough.

Scoop a little batter and scrape into a piping bag, fitted with a plain nozzle. Fill the bag with half of the batter by scraping it on the side of the bag. Squeeze batter into piping bag so it ends up to the end of the piping bag, to prevent any space or air bubbles in the batter. Twist the end of the piping bag several times and start to pipe the batter out.

Lay the macaron template on the baking tray and cover it with a sheet of baking parchment. Hold the piping bag vertically, about 2 cm above the baking tray. Squeeze the top to pipe out the first shell. The shell should be smaller than the template circle, just short of 3.5cm in diameter as the batter will spread during baking.

Continue to pipe the shells out onto other baking trays with the template until all the batter is piped out. Flatter the points that have formed on the shells by rapping the baking tray on a work surface with a moist kitchen towel.

Allow the shells to stand at room temperature (or in an air-conditioned room) for about 30 minutes until a skin forms on the surface. To test when it’s ready, gently touch the shell; the batter should not stick to your finger.

Pre-heat oven to 180C and bake the shells for 12 minutes. Open the oven door after eight minutes and after 10 minutes, to let out steam. Once baked, slide the macaron shells out of the baking tray and onto the work surface to prevent the shells from baking further on the baking tray. Allow the macarons to cool on the baking parchment as taking them off when it’s warm will tear the bottom.

When cooled, carefully unstick the shells from the baking parchment. They are now ready to be filled. You can store them for 48 hours in the refrigerator or freeze them.

To make the elderflower buttercream, place sugar and water in a large saucepan and dissolve sugar under low heat, before bringing it to a boil. Clean the sides of the saucepan with a damp pastry brush.

While sugar boils, whisk the eggs and egg yolks until they lighten in colour. When sugar boils to 120C, pour the sugar into the egg mixture and whisk until it has cooled down completely.

Cream the butter until light in colour then add the egg mixture and continue to whisk to obtain a smooth consistency. Add the elderflower pear syrup and more elderflower cordial to taste. Smooth the buttercream by whisking it briskly. Add more elderflower cordial if you find the taste too subtle.

Spoon the buttercream immediately into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe the buttercream onto half the shells then gently press several pear cubes into the centre, before topping them with the remaining shells. Store the macarons in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.

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