So when I realized that it was time for the annual Livestrong with a taste of yellow event organized by Barbara of Winos and Foodies, herself a cancer survivor, I knew I had to make something for Rachel, and a happy coincidence resulted in my making these macarons for her.
See, when I'm taking care of Baby Saffron I often can't do much with both hands in spite of my awesome baby carrier, so I spend a lot of quality time with my iPhone sometimes, and the easiest way to spend time on the iPhone happens to be on Twitter. There I get to chat with some of my favorite blogging friends and when Jamie of Life's a Feast made macarons for the first time not too long ago, the twitter posse that she, Meeta, Deeba and I form on a regular basis started tweeting like mad about them. Before you knew it, Jamie had organized a mac-athon to get other bloggers who hadn't tried those tricky little devils to attempt making them.
I happen to be the one in the group who has made macarons before and, as luck would have it, the first time I made successful macarons two years ago, Rachel was one of the few to partake and she loved them. Rachel was my first "blog" friend back when I was blogging elsewhere and that blog wasn't a food blog at all. Her friendship made life easier for me through rough times and when she asked me to make her wedding cake she gave me an incredible boost of faith in my baking abilities. She is warm, intelligent, and thoughtful; she sings beautifully even though right now the treatment has made that difficult for her. Throughout it all she has kept her chin up and never whined.
I wasn't able to make macarons for her as wedding favors and right now we're not even in the same city, but I know she will appreciate these when she sees them, and I will be more than delighted to make them *for you again my wonderful friend.*
Helen of Tartelette's powdered-strawberry macarons recipe by drying out a honey mango and grinding it to flavor the shells. I also added turmeric for color. The flavor of the shells was very delicate and, on A.'s recommendation, I might try using mango pulp instead next time I make them. Instead of the traditional buttercream I made a filling with swiss meringue, whipped cream, fromage frais, pureed mango and fresh passion fruit. The ratio of white to yellow-orange ingredients being very high, the filling is white which I prefer. You will be able to see the results of the mac-athon on Jamie's blog after the 15th of September.
Powdered Mango Macarons with Mango-Passion Fruit Filling
adapted from Helene Dujardin at Tartelette
Makes about 48 shells so ~2 dozen 3.5cm(1.5") macarons
For the macarons shells:
- 1 Honey Mango (not too ripe)
- 90gr egg whites (between 2 and 3 Large eggs)
- 30gr granulated sugar
- 200gr confectioner's or icing sugar
- 110gr powdered almonds (I ground & sieved whole almonds)
- Turmeric or powdered yellow food coloring
For the mango powder:
- Peel and cut the mango in half. Slice one half thinly. Set aside the other half.
- Heat oven to 120C (250F). Place the mango slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let dry in the oven. This could take anywhere from an hour to two hours to complete. Let cool. Grind until you can no longer make it finer (mangoes can get a bit chewy instead of dry so you may not be able to grind to a powder). Set aside.
For the macarons shells:
- I have a stand mixer but preferred to use a hand mixer instead. For stand mixer instructions go to Helen's website. Using your mixer, whip the egg whites until just foamy, then gradually add the granulated sugar until glossy and just stiff but take care not to overbeat or the macarons will fail.
- Put the confectioner's sugar, powdered almonds, powdered mango and food coloring in a food processor and pulse until well blended. You can sieve this mixture afterward to obtain an even finer texture.
- Add the meringue to the dry mixture in halve or thirds. Then fold (macaronner) the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that makes a thick flowing ribbon. The process of macaronner is defined as folding the batter from back to front with one hand while rotating the bowl in a counter-motion with the other hand. Be careful not to overfold your batter or it will be too liquid and spread and you won't get feet. Test your batter if you are unsure of its readiness. If there are small peaks you need to fold it a bit more, if it flattens out on its own it's ready, and if it spreads out you've overfolded.
- Using a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (8mm for me) pipe the batter in small rounds (~3.5cm or 1.5") onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. I don't draw circles on the parchment because I'm lazy so my macs tend to need to be paired manually when done because they're not all the same size, but if you are not lazy like me, you should draw circles out for perfectly and evenly sized macs. Take care to leave a little space in between them so the air can circulate to help them develop feet.
- Heat the oven to 140C (280F). To make them even more stable in the oven, let the macarons sit out for at least 30 minutes to harden their shells.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (I usually sneak a peek under the corner one to see if they're done). Let cool a bit before removing them from the parchment.
- Store them in an airtight container until ready to use, but do not leave them more than a couple of days. They freeze well but I'm not familiar with how long they can stay frozen.
For the mango-passion fruit filling (I made this up as I was going so feel free to try your own version):
- 1/2 Honey Mango
- 2 egg whites
- 50g granulated sugar
- ~50g double cream
- ~100g fromage frais
- ~40g fresh passion fruit
- Puree the honey mango but you do not need all of it for the filling as it is very watery.
- Put the egg whites with the sugar in a bowl over simmering water (double-boiler) and heat to 100C whipping constantly. Take off the heat and continue whipping until cool (I use my stand mixer bowl for this). You should have a stiff glossy meringue (Swiss).
- In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the fromage frais and whip until smooth. Fold in the Swiss meringue. Fold in the passion fruit and some of the mango puree so that the mixture is not too thin and will stiffen in the fridge.
When ready, assemble the macarons by piping about a tablespoon worth of filling onto one shell and pressing another shell on top. They are best eaten the day after they are assembled to allow the flavors to develop but if you're like me you may not be able to wait that long...