*I wrote this post for Sauce Magazine's online blog a short while back.*
Sauce Magazine is a Saint Louis based magazine that focuses on the culinary/restaurant scene in the area!
It's free at many restaurants and cafes and it's a great way to discover new places in the city.
I will be posting there every other week, along with other contributors... there's always something new to read each day and the online blog posts many new recipes so check it out!
Rose and lychee are two flavors that permeated throughout my childhood. Growing up in India, lychees were plentiful and juicy. They are small with a tough, inedible skin, hiding a white-ish pulp inside. There’s also a seed in there, so beware. They have the consistency of a grape but smell far more intoxicating and fresh. They’re available here in the States mostly in canned form. The perfume-y scent is lost through canning but the taste is still quite delicious.
Rose water isn’t seen in food in India as often as it is in the Middle East but it’s usually enjoyed in syrup form mixed with milk or water. It can also be used for cosmetic purposes as well as in extracts to flavor desserts. I wanted to pair the two together in macaron form.
I used a rose pastry cream for the filling for these, which turned out delicious, but made the shells soggy if not consumed within a couple hours of putting the macs together. So I recommend assembling these just before serving, despite those who believe macs should be sandwiched a day in advance to let the flavors meld together. I promise, it still tastes just as good since the flavors are so strong.
I piped rose pastry cream in the center of half the shells and topped the cream with a slice of lychee before placing another shell on top to sandwich it all together. When I bit into it, I first hit the meringue … chewy with a very slight crunch, then a burst of cool, lusciously soft cream. The lychee was somewhere in between, adding a wonderful mildly sweet taste with a
lovely floral flavor. These are the best-smelling macarons I’ve ever attempted.
Makes about 15 macarons
2 egg whites
5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Pink powdered or gel food coloring
1 cup ground almonds (you can also use almond meal or almond flour), sifted
½ cup powdered sugar, heaped and sifted
Preheat the oven to 280 degrees
Beat the egg whites in a clean large mixing bowl, using an electric beater.
After 1 minute, add in all 5 tablespoons of sugar.
A minute later, add the food coloring to the egg white mixture (if using).
Beat until you can hold the bowl upside down and the egg white mixture does not move, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Fold in the ground almonds and powdered sugar with a flexible spatula. Then, scrape the sides of the bowl and move the mixture to the middle. Do this methodically until everything is well incorporated.
Pour the batter into a piping bag with a round tip.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Hold the piping bag perpendicular to the sheet, about an inch above, and pipe into 30 1-inch circles. Keep the circles 1 inch apart in case they spread slightly while baking.
Leave the shells out to dry for about 30 minutes.
Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time.
When finished baking, let the macarons cool completely before attempting to remove them from the pan. (Note: Do not be alarmed if the macarons come out cracked or without feet, they will still be delicious.)
Assemble just before serving: Turn all the macaron shells to their backs. Fill a piping bag with a round tip with the rose pastry cream and pipe out small mounds of pastry cream into every other shell.
Place a small cut piece of lychee on the cream and top with another shell.
Rose Pastry Cream
Originally published in Ladurée Sucre
1 vanilla bean (or 2 tsp. vanilla extract)
1 2/3 cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. rose water*
2 Tbsp. rose syrup*
3 drops natural rose essential oil or rose extract**
With a sharp knife, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a saucepan.
Pour the milk into the saucepan and add the empty vanilla pod. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until slightly pale. Incorporate the cornstarch. Set aside.
Remove the vanilla pod from the saucepan and reheat the milk, bringing to a simmer. Once simmering, pour a third of the hot milk over the egg yolk mixture (to temper the yolks). Whisk and pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan.
Bring to a boil while stirring with a whisk, making sure to scrape down the sides of the pan with a spatula. Boil until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and pour the cream into a clean bowl.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes so that it is still hot but not boiling.
Incorporate the butter while stirring.
Add in the rose water, rose syrup and rose essential oil, stirring well.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap until ready to use.