"Christmas in July" it's a Southern Hemisphere thing, a chance to borrow Northern Hemisphere traditions while it's not stiflingly hot. I'm originally from England and get carried away at Christmas so it follows that I'm into Christmas in July. I'm not, however, particularly time bound so it also follows that I'm making these mid August.
Winter hasn't really happened in Sydney this year, the magnolias were in bloom weeks ago, so I abandonned the idea of a full on Christmas dinner and decided to make an eggnog inspired macaron instead. They were a bit of an experiment; testing out the italian meringue method with a thick, creamy custard filling. I'm declaring them a partial success, a work in progress. The shells worked perfectly, the nutmeg scented filling with its boozy kick definitely reminiscent of eggnog, but in combination the shells softened quickly and were best eaten the day they were made. They tasted great, but I'd sacrifice the more authentic, eggnoggy filling for a longer shelf life; one of the great things about macarons is being forced to make them in advance, to allow the magical 24hrs rest. Being a bit persistent, my family would say stubborn, I'm not giving up on the eggnog macaron but am trialling them again later this week with a rum and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, I'll keep you posted*...
75g egg white
100g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
100g caster sugar
fresh nutmeg, grated (I'm loving grated fresh nutmeg, leave any recipe suggestions in the comments!)
• line 2 baking trays with baking paper
• combine the caster sugar and water in a small, heavy based pan and set aside
• put the ground almonds and icing sugar in a blender and blitz on the pulse setting for a minute or so • push the nut powder through a sieve into a large bowl, if you have a small amount that won't be pushed through the sieve just toss it out, any more than a teaspoon and it's worth repeating the blitzing stage
• divide the egg white in half, use scales for this stage, you may need to lightly beat the egg white with a fork to break it up • put half in the bowl of a stand mixer, set the other half aside
• over a low heat stir the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves • increase heat to high and bring the syrup to a boil, its ok to swirl the pan but do not stir (!) • use a wet pastry brush to remove any crystals that form on the side of the pan • check the temperature with a sugar thermometer, you are aiming for 118ºC, but when the temperature reaches 110ºC whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form
• when the sugar syrup reaches 118ºC turn the mixer to low and slowly pour into the bowl, once all the syrup is in turn the speed to high and whisk until cool
• pour the unbeaten egg white over the nut/sugar powder, tip the meringue on top and using a spatula, mix together in a circular motion, lifting the batter from underneath • this method takes a bit of mixing, the batter is ready when a ribbon of batter falls from your spatula and disappears back into the mix within 20-30 seconds
• use a spot of batter under the corners of the baking paper to stick it to the trays
• fit a piping bag with a 10mm nozzle and fill with the batter • pipe 3cm rounds, about 2cm apart, onto the baking paper • grate fresh nutmeg over the shells • tap the trays on the bench, turn through 90º and tap again
• preheat the oven to 140ºC while the macarons rest on the bench for half an hour or so
• bake for 15 minutes, lightly push a macaron from the side, if it moves away from the ruffled foot around the base put them back in the oven for another couple of minutes then check again
• cool on the tray for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack
• pair each shell with a similar sized partner; pipe the filling on the underside of one shell and gently press its partner on top
• store in an airtight container in the fridge for an hour or so, these are best eaten the day they are made as they soften quickly • allow to come to room temperature to eat and enjoy!!
Eggnog Custard Filling
230ml thick cream
4 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
1 1/2 gold strength gelatin leaves
• split the vanilla bean in half lengthways and put in a pan with the cream, bring to a simmer
• meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and sugar until creamy
• slowly pour the hot cream over the egg/sugar combo, whisking constantly
• soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water, set aside
• put the egg/sugar/cream bowl over a pan of simmering water, stir constantly until the mixture is the consistency of a thick custard, gently squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and whisk into the custard • remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon and rum, remove the vanilla bean
• place a layer of cling wrap on the surface of the custard and put in the fridge until set (approx 3 hours)
once set, fit a piping bag with a plain tip, fill with the custard and you are ready to pipe...
* as promised I experimented with a rum swiss meringue butter cream filling; I was really happy with the result, not as custardy, but still reminiscent of eggnog. The shells stayed crisp and had the usual 3-4 day shelf (well fridge) life. Follow the recipe link here, rum and bourbon swiss meringue butter cream.
the comment link is below; always great to hear from you :)