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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Strawberry Milk Macarons and a Mini Giveaway!

I've been on a kick to use "all natural ingredients" or ingredients that are as unprocessed as possible. This of course translates to less refined flours and sugars, and more wholemeal flours, non-wheat flours, as well as different forms of sugar, such as molasses. This has also translated into using only 'natural food coloring' in my foods, and thus far, I've only experimented with red and green, mainly because they are the most easily accessible colors - for green I use pandan, and for red, I stick with my favorite strawberry (and raspberry).


That, plus my recent infatuation with Sadaharu Aoki (I gorged on his cakes when I was in Taipei) meant I was hooked when I saw Pook's strawberry milk macarons which used strawberry powder AND was a recipe by Aoki. 

For those who might not know who Sadaharu Aoki is, do check out his website and be amazed. In fact, a couple of his pastries (including the black sesame eclair) are rated as one of the top few pastries to try in Paris by Adam. Aoki excels in making French pastries and if I'm not wrong, he is probably one of the few Japanese patissiers to make it big in Paris, which is quite telling. He also has outlets in Japan as well as in Taipei, and I was extremely lucky (well actually not really since I purposely made a few trips down to the outlet in Taipei to eat my fill) to have tasted his cakes. He really does excel in pairing Japanese flavors in the French pastries, and one of his best and most famous works has got to be the Bamboo, a matcha and red bean Opera-like cake. The best thing is that the cakes are not overly saccharine or cloying (which tends to be the case when Europeans at making pastries), which is perfect for the Asian tastebud. 

So suffice to say, anything Aoki is a sure-win, and I was quietly confident that these strawberry milk macarons would be fantastic. I was not wrong. 




Strawberry Milk Macarons 
Makes 50-60 shells

For the macaron shell
65g   ground almonds
90g   icing sugar
5g     strawberry powder

50g   egg whites
15g   castor sugar 
Pinch of salt or cream of tartar

For the strawberry milk buttercream
3g     all purpose flour
60g   fresh milk
65g   unsalted butter
8g     castor sugar

Method:
  1. Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar separately. Next, sift them together with the strawberry powder. Set aside. 
  2. Beat the egg whites (which are at room temperature), and cream of tartar or salt together with the castor sugar. You can put in the sugar right from the start. Beat until you obtain stiff peaks. This should take slightly less than 10 minutes, depending on the strength of your mixer. 
  3. Using a spatula, sift in a third of the almond-flour mixture into the stiff meringue. You need not fold but do mix the ingredients in gently. Sift in the remaining almond-flour mixture in two batches and gently fold to combine. You should get a shiny, viscous mixture which 'flows like magma'.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and proceed to pipe 3-cm large rounds onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners. After piping the shells, be sure to rap the baking sheets against the counter to get rid of any excess air. 
  5. Let them sit at room temperature (or air conditioner temperature would be fantastic) until they are dry to touch. You need not actually touch the shells because it will be rather obvious when they dry and form a 'shell'. This should not take more than an hour. 
  6. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 140°C (fan-assisted), with the rack in the middle, with top and bottom heating. Bake the macarons for about 12-16 minutes, making sure to open the oven door at around the 8th minute (or after feet have formed) to let out excess hot air and to turn the tray from front to back. Once the shells are firm to touch, remove the trays from the oven and let them cool on the trays for at least 15 minutes before proceeding to cool them on cooling racks. If you use a nonstick liner, they should be easily removed, if not, use a knife or metal spatula to release the macaron. Store the shells in an airtight container until ready to assemble. 
  7. For the strawberry milk buttercream, sift the all-purpose flour into the milk and place into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over low heat and stir until the mixture thickens. Once a roux is formed, remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool. In the meantime, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Pour the cooled milk roux and gradually beat to combine. Beat in the strawberry jam until you get a homogenous mixture. 
  8. To assemble: Place the buttercream into a piping bag and proceed to pipe it onto matched macaron shells. You may have to chill the buttercream for a few minutes before piping if it is too 'soft' for piping. Refrigerate the sandwiched shells for an hour or until the buttercream has firmed. Remove the macarons 5-10 minutes before serving for the best experience :]


Janine's jots: 
  • Note: I have to admit that the macarons were severely under filled - in fact, you can't even see the filling for most of them. But I've a good reason - the filling wasn't enough because I kept filching it and it's oh so yummy with the sponge cake I made. So well, I didn't have enough for the macarons ^_^ I didn't mind though, since I don't particularly like too much filling in between my macarons. I would definitely recommend making more of the strawberry milk buttercream because it is simply delicious.  
  • Taste: On the buttercream, it wasn't overly sweet because I used less of the strawberry jam and in fact, my homemade strawberry jam is more tart than sweet, which perhaps explains why I loved it so much. This went together very well with the macaron shells, which were slightly flavored due to the use of the strawberry powder.  
  • Texture: Although the macarons were not perfect - I undermixed the macarons for fear of no feet, so you can still see bumps and 'nipples' on some of the shells. Nevertheless, the shells turned out pretty shiny and I'm pretty happy with the sideway feet. One other reason why I liked the recipe is because the shells were just the right level of 'crispiness' and the inside was sufficiently moist when paired with the buttercream.
  • Serving size: I got about 35 paired macarons, but my macarons were a little on the smaller side - about 2.5cm or slightly more than an inch.
  • Modifications: I would definitely want to try this same recipe but with a reduced amount of icing sugar. I've actually tweaked the ingredients quite a bit from the original, and the macaron shells themselves are not overly sweet as in some recipes because of the tanginess of the strawberry powder but for the sake of my waistline, I shall see if I can reduce the sugar even more without sacrificing on the feet! Also, without using red coloring, it is impossible to get the vibrant red colors that Pook got with her macarons. Nevertheless, this dusty rose color found favor with me and the people who ate them. In fact, these macarons were more popular than the salted caramel macarons! 
  • Storage: My only gripe is that the buttercream softens wayyyy too quickly! It is very moist and goes very well with the shells, but you'll have to consume the filled macarons almost immediately to get the best mouthfeel, otherwise the filling will be too soft and 'oily' to eat. Do only fill the shells that you will consume the next day or two (macarons have to be filled at least 24 hours to let the moisture and taste from the filling 'diffuse' into the shells). If not, keep the shells and filling separate until ready to eat.
  • Would I make this again?: Definitely! I foresee using the same recipe with other fruit powders to get different colors and flavours!

Playing around with the 'aged' effect - what do you think? 




Anyway, I previously tweeted about using my strawberry powder in my macaron shells (it really does give a superb tangy strawberry flavor to the shells), as well as in my mom's birthday layered cake. Some of you have asked me where I got this powder from, and sadly, I've to say that I got a friend to purchase it for me from an overseas organic store. It's basically 100% natural powdered freeze-dried organic strawberries, so it perishes pretty quickly even in freeze-dried form. The recommended use-by date is actually in May 2012, and since I've quite a bit of it, I thought to share the love :] 


I'm giving away 10g of strawberry powder each to two lucky persons, which will be packaged in a clean, tiny ziplock bag. This amount should be sufficient for those interested in trying out the strawberry milk macarons above (the original only requires 3g of powder). You can also use them to flavor cake (like what I've done), so simply sprinkle them on your plain yogurt (which is what I've been doing too). It also works well in coloring icing too!

I know it sounds like a tiny amount, but in my defense, let me remind you that it's organic, unavailable in Singapore and pretty costly :S Anyway, this is just a tiny way of saying thank you for reading my blog (silent or not), and if you aren't picked for this giveaway, please do stay tuned because I've a few more small giveaways in store, mainly because I've some 'exotic' ingredients which I bought in bulk to save on costs and I know some of you out there would love to try out these ingredients. If you're really desperate to get some strawberry powder yourself, Pook shared where she got her strawberry powder from here

So to participate, all you have to do is just to leave me a comment below, with your email address and name. It's that simple ;) I'll be opening this giveaway to readers in Singapore and Malaysia, because it's a tiny item which is easily shipped. I'll close the giveaway on 29 March 2012 at 11.59pm. The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email the next day.

If you're kiasu and want to increase your chances of winning, you can do the following for an extra entry each (please post a new comment for each of the below): 

  1. Like my blog on Facebook and leave an extra comment below. The page is still bare, but I'm working on it!
  2. Share this giveaway on Facebook. 
  3. Follow me on Twitter (@notkitchensink) and retweet this giveaway on Twitter!
  4. Follow my blog by clicking on the "Follow" bottom at the top left corner of this page. 


This macaron post is also in support of Aspiring Bakers #17 – March Macaron Madness! (Mar 2012) hosted by Alan of Travellingfoodies. I'm also posting this over at the #27 edition of Mactweets! If you haven't made macarons before, do use this opportunity to try them - they might be finicky things to make, but I can assure you that your spirits will lift tremendously when you see the little frilly skirts/feet emerging from the shells and they look and taste super yummy too :] 

36 comments:

Angel @ Cook.Bake.Love said...

Like the natural pink of ur Mac .

My email is loveacbl@gmail(dot)com

Sugary Obessions said...

Wow! Awesome!

Name: Genevieve
Email: smudgedcircles@hotmail.com

Sugary Obessions said...

Liked you on FB!

Sugary Obessions said...

Shared This giveaway on FB too

Sugary Obessions said...

Followed and retweeted on Twitter

Sugary Obessions said...

and followed your blog at the bottom of the page.

OMG im KIASU!

CaThY said...

wow, I wish I could win the strawberry powder! hehehe ;)

Cathy
cathyng_24@hotmail.com

The Sweetylicious said...

The macs are so cute! (:

Jasmine
thesweetylicious@hotmail.com

lin said...

liked, shared n follow

edith said...

I just clicked on your link's to Pook's strawberry Mac. Though hers is nice but I still prefers the natural colour of yours.

Have fun sharing.

travellingfoodies said...

Great that you'd tried freeze-dried strawberry powder! I bought freeze-dried raspberries and the flavour is really intense!

Is the flavour of strawberries prominent in the shells?

I don't like to fill the shells with buttercream as well. Same issues with the fluidity of the cream at ambient temperature and the creamiess can become quite cloying... I prefer ganache and confiture whenever possible. :)

Thanks for your entry! Looking forward to more macs from you this month!

Lala said...

Love how you live by the belief of healthy living.. though tempting to use red coloring (i would be! haha).. the natural color from the strawberry powder is subtle but equally nice! Am trying out for the give-away too, and hoping to find out for self the taste of it =)

email: lala_juan@yahoo.com.sg

min~* said...

:) yums!
Brenda
istophere@gmail.com

Janine said...

thanks guys for the participation :)

@edith: thanks!

@alan: yup the strawberry flavor is evident, but very very subtle. I would love to add more of it, but I'm afraid the feet and all will be affected. I'm hoping to add one more entry if i can get my hands on making them this weekend!

@lala: i hope you can try it out soon ;)

Joyce @ Chunky Cooky said...

Your macs look very beautiful, with the pastel pink tone. I like !

lena said...

hi, so nice of you to give those strawberry powder as a gift, this is really a rare item here. your macarons look lovely!

foodismylife said...

Beautiful! My first attempt on macarons was not a success - they tasted good but they look ugly... gonna try it again this weekend! This is the first time I've heard of strawberry powder! Love that you always try out such exotic ingredients, always a great read (:

-Jasline

Ah Tze said...

Lovely macarons with strawberry powder!

kitchen flavours said...

Your macarons are lovely. I must really boost up my courage to try at making some! And the strawberry powder sounds awesome! My email is kitchenflavours@yahoo.com
Thanks for organizing such a fantastic giveaway!
**Joyce**

konde said...

so.. can eat this....? i think very small or mini for eating

Just FYI, there’s an event for bloggers and the prizes are iPad2 and Cash Find the info here

lifeisfull said...

Your macarons look great and thanks for sharing your tips 'jots' with us, they're helpful. I love your 'go-natural' approach too!
Thanks for coming by my blog. :)

Not Quite Nigella said...

What a fascinating filling flavour! Strawberries and cream are so good together so why not milk! :)

Amelia's De-ssert said...

Hi Janine, your mac look so pretty and cute. Lovely presentation.
amelia461@hotmail.com

Have a nice weekend.

crustabakes said...

i have never heard of strawberry powder before. But it sounds like a wonderful magical powder, being organic and yet still packing lots of punch!

Charlotte said...

would love to have strawberry powder to bake the mini macarons for my friend's birthday in april! i hope i win it and get it in time :)

charlotte
charlotte_ngkl@yahoo.com.sg

yummylittlecooks said...

Your macaroon looks so cute and the color was so sweet too :)

Zoe said...

Your mini macarons are so petite and beautiful! They are like your work of art :D

Janine said...

thanks for your comments (and encouraging compliments) everyone! Keep them coming in!

Jamie said...

severely under filled? LOL funny! But I know what you mean. And I can't wait to discover this chef patissier when I am next in Paris! exciting! and what beautiful little macs - love the delicate color and the flavor sounds fabulous! I am so happy you baked these for Mactweets!

Deeba PAB said...

They are gorgeous as is your post...what delightful mini macarons these are. Looking at them, I can only imagine the depth of flavours. Beautiful. Thanks for joining us at MacTweets Janine, and if I was in Sin/KL I would have definitely joined the giveaway. Happy Macaron Day!

Swee San said...

that is right, anything Aoki is a win!!

Janine said...

@Jamie: I'm glad to finally participate again!

@Deeba: thanks, and I hope one day to open up giveaways to my international readers too!

@swee san: yes definitely! :D

Eva said...

Strawberry powder! (:

Lora said...

I love strawberry milk macarons. These are adorable!

Quay Po Cooks said...

I love mini macs too. This is so cute and adorable. I wonder if I can get strawberry powder here.

Dedicated Docent said...

That sounds so good. Have you ever used liquid egg whites for macarons? Or powdered egg whites reconstituted?

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