Spiced Darjeeling Tea and Milk Chocolate Macarons (Masala Chai Macarons)

by thomandaimee

Ah, masala chai. I have a dangerous addiction to this creamy tea concoction. Whenever I visit the restaurant, a knowing smile will appear on my colleagues’ faces and out comes a cup of this hot luscious stuff. There is something comforting about this drink. It makes you want to sit by a window and read a good novel. Or pen out a short story. Because it sends you away to somewhere far filled with eclectic colours and heavy aromatic smells. Tea on its own is a beautiful thing, but when it takes the form of masala chai, now that’s a whole different story.

My friends who have visited India will always mention masala chai and its allure. The tea beverage vary in different regions of India with each using their own mixture of spices. Traditionally, ginger and cardamom are the foundation with other ingredients added on such as cinnamon, clove, star anise or fennel. The spices are infused together with tea, milk and sugar, resulting in a warm sweetened drink.

Our masala chai macarons are kept minimal with ginger and cardamom dominating the palate. The floral Darjeeling tea was probably a tad too subtle against the full-bodied chocolate. As you bite into it, the spices gives a powerful hit, followed by a soft velvety milk chocolate and last but not least, a fragrant tea aftertaste. Was it like the drink itself? Well, close enough – it was like having afternoon tea in a resplendent Rajasthani palace with gourmet chocolates and of course, a china-bone tea cup of heavenly masala chai.

Spiced Darjeeling Tea and Milk Chocolate Macarons (Masala Chai Macarons)
By Thom and Aimee

Makes 36 macarons, 72 shells

For the Macaron Shells
150g ground almonds
150g icing sugar
3 to 4 teaspoons marsala
55g liquefied egg whites
3g brown food colouring

+

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

For the Darjeeling Milk Chocolate Ganache
193g liquid creme fraiche (35% fat)
3 tea bags of Darjeeling tea
200g Valrhona Jivara couverture
35g butter

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 macaron shells, sift together the icing sugar, ground almonds and marsala.

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.

For the ganache, heat the cream to 85C. Off the heat, add the darjeeling tea and cover with a lid. Allow it to infuse for no more than 5 minutes. Strain.

Chop up the chocolate and melt it in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Pour cream over the melted chocolate a third at a time. When the mixture reaches 60C, add the butter and whisk to obtain a smooth ganache. Transfer the ganache to a gratin dish, press clingfilm over the surface of the ganache. Place it in the refrigerator to allow ganache to thicken.

Spoon the cooled ganache into a piping bah fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe a generous mound of ganache on half of the shells and top with the remaining shells. Store the macarons in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.

TIPS

As you add the cream to the melted chocolate, you’ll experience the mixture separating, as if it is curdled. Do not worry; this is caused by molecules of fat in the cream and chocolate separating. Continue to mix energetically, drawing small circles to create an elastic, shiny “kernel”; work your way out to the sides of the bowl in widening circles. I find placing the bowl on a bain-marie that has barely simmering water for 3 to 5 seconds helps to incorporate it.

Pressing clingfilm over the surface of the ganache ensures that no condensation will find its way to the chocolate.

Use more teabags if you prefer the flavour of the tea to come through strongly. Keep in mind that the spices and chocolate are all heavily flavoured ingredients, so you can be generous with the tea incorporated into the ganache. Or use a more full-bodied tea like Assam instead.

Advertisements