Saturday, 28 May 2011

M is for... Mango macaro(o)ns, mandarin madaleines and macadamia nut and maple truffles with mint tea



Whether you call them macarons or macaroons is up to you. Some people assume that macaroons are the British coconut confection drizzled with chocolate and stuck on a sheet of rice paper and that macarons are their more elegant French cousin - the chewy almond meringue biscuits made famous and brightly coloured by Ladurée. But Ladurée call them macaroons on their English website and macarons on their French, which makes me wonder - are British speakers who call them, and indeed spell them, macarons simply forgetting a small matter of the French to English translation? Although I do concede that missing an "o" does make marking their difference from our stodgy (but equally delicious) British variety easier. Especially for those too lazy to precede the British kind with the word with "coconut".

Mango macaro(o)ns

Mango ganache filling

100g white chocolate, chopped
100ml fresh mango purée (simply blitz fresh, ripe mango flesh in a liquidiser)

Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place the mango purée in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once the mango begins to boil, remove it from the heat and leave to stand for 1 minute before pouring over the chocolate. Mix together carefully with a rubber spatula until all the chocolate has melted and leave to cool completely. Once cold, scoop the filling into a piping bag. Only snip the end off just before using.

Macaro(o)ns

I forgot to bring back some piping nozzles to my home kitchen from work so my macaro(o)ns weren't quite as neat as they could have been. Still, no matter, they tasted good. If, however, you want your's to be neater than mine or you can't trust yourself to be tidy with a snipped bag alone, you'll need a no. 8 nozzle. Incidentally, I know it seems a bit much to weigh egg whites, but macaroons need to be very precise and the weight of individual eggs varies greatly, but to make things a little simpler, 90 g is usually and roughly just under 3 eggs. Do weigh them if you can though.

Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan)

5 oz/ 125 g icing sugar
5 oz/ 125 g ground almonds
3 1/2 oz/ 90 g egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp water
4 oz/ 100 g caster sugar
The tip of a tsp of tangerine food colouring paste

Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add the ground almonds and mix them all together. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until at the soft peak stage and gradually whisk in the caster sugar until stiff. Add the food dye to the meringue and stir through until it is all one even colour, adding more if required. Sprinkle the almond mixture over the meringue and fold in. Place the mixture in a piping bag (fitted with a nozzle if you have one) and snip the end off. Pipe circular blobs of about 1.5 inches in diameter on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Leave at least an inch between each disc. Let the macaroons skin over for half an hour or so before popping them in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven and lift the baking parchment with the macaroons on it to a wire rack to cool. Once cold, peel the macaroon discs off the paper and sandwich together with a generous blob of mango filling.

Mandarin madeleines

Madeleines are madeleines because of their shape, so you will need a madeleine mould for this recipe. Having said that, if you don't have one, you can still follow the same recipe to make delicious fairy cakes with the batter instead.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). This recipe is enough to make 24 madeleines.

2 large eggs
The finely grated zest of 2 mandarins
5 oz/ 125g icing sugar
3 oz/ 75g plain flour
1 oz/ 25g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 oz/ 125g melted butter, cooled

Rub your madeleine trays with butter and dust them with flour before shaking off any excess. 

Whisk together your eggs, sugar and mandarin zest until very pale and frothy (this will take at least a few minutes with an electric whisk). In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almonds and baking powder and fold into the egg mixture in three stages. Finally, fold in the melted butter before pouring the batter into the moulds 3/4 of the way up and baking for 10-12 minutes.

Once cooked, leave the cakes to cool for about a minute before turning them out of their moulds and leaving them to cool completely on a wire rack - bottom side down so you don't get grid marks on their shell-like tops. Once completely cool, sift over a little icing sugar before serving.

Macadamia and maple truffles

As I've said before, when making truffles, it's much easier to think metrically than imperially (I'm usually the opposite) as the number of grams of chocolate used should match the number of millilitres of cream. You'll need the butter in these, otherwise the ganache won't set because of the large volume of maple syrup required before you can really taste it. I put the syrup in neat as I've heard (though I've done nothing to test it) that maple syrup loses strength of flavour when heated.

100g dark chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
3-4 tbsp maple syrup
2 oz/ 50g unsalted butter, room temperature and chopped
A bag of whole macadamia nuts, shelled
Sifted cocoa powder for dusting

Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the butter. Scald the cream in a saucepan over a medium heat and pour it over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for 1 minute before stirring until all the chocolate and butter have melted. Stir in the maple syrup and taste for maple-y-ness, adding more syrup if necessary. Leave to cool and once cold place in the fridge to firm up.

Scoop a spoonful of set ganache out of the bowl, pop a macadamia nut in the centre and, using your hands, roll the ganache into a ball with the nut in the middle. Roll the truffle in cocoa and repeat until you've used up your ganache.

I served my mango macaro(o)ns, mandarin madeleines and macadamia and maple truffles with fresh mint tea, which you make simply by placing a generous bunch of mint in a teapot, pouring over boiling water and leaving to stand for 3-5 minutes before pouring.

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