Passion Fruit Macarons: Further Lessons in Humility
It had been over four years since I last made macarons, so when I found myself with four egg whites in the fridge I thought to myself, "Self, maybe it's time to try making them again." After all, in the intervening years I had acquired a Kitchen-Aid stand up mixer, a Silpat liner, proper pastry bags and tips, and a food scale. Looking back, I can't believe I attempted to make macarons without any of those!
Since I had previously tried making macarons using the Italian meringue method, I thought I'd try the French meringue method. The French method may seem easier -- no need to dribble boiling hot sugar syrup into egg whites while beating (seriously, how did I do that without a stand-up mixer?!?) -- but the rate of failure is a lot higher since the meringue isn't quite as stable.
The hardest part is knowing when to stop folding the batter, otherwise the macarons will crack or not develop the frilly "feet". Believe me, it is heartbreaking to go through all the trouble of making the batter and piping the macarons and letting them rest, only to see them start to crack in the oven. I was so nervous about over-mixing that I actually under-mixed the batter at first. I realized my mistake when I tried piping it, and the batter wouldn't spread out into a nice round shape. I scraped the batter in the bag back into the mixing bowl and gave it a few more folds before trying again, and it worked much better this time.
For the filling, I decided to make a modified version of the Momofuku Milk Bar passion fruit curd by adding a little more gelatin and butter to make it more viscous. Since I knew the passion fruit curd would be plenty flavorful, I chose to keep the macarons plain and just added some yellow gel coloring so that they would match the curd. You'll want to make the curd first so that it has time to chill in the fridge before filling the macarons.
50 g passion fruit puree
32 g sugar
1 large egg
1/3 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
8 tablespoons very cold butter
1 g kosher salt
Put the passion fruit puree and sugar in a blender and blend until the sugar granules have dissolved. Add the egg and blend on low until you have a bright orange-yellow mixture. Transfer the contents of the blender to a medium saucepan. Clean the blender canister.
Bloom the powdered gelatin in 1 tablespoon of cold water.
Heat the passion fruit mixture over low heat, whisking regularly. As it heats up, it will begin to thicken; keep a close eye on it. Once the mixture boils, remove it from the stove and transfer back to the blender.
Add the bloomed gelatin, butter, and salt and blend until the mixture is thick, shiny, and super-smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a heatproof container and put it in the refrigerator for at least 30-60 minutes, until the curd has cooled completely.
110 g egg whites (about 4)
200 g confectioner's sugar
110 g almond flour
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
25 g granulated sugar
3 drops yellow gel food coloring
Passion fruit curd (recipe above)
Age the egg whites overnight at room temperature in an open container (I cover mine with a sieve to keep out dust but to allow air flow).
Prepare two baking trays with Silpat or parchment paper.
Sift the confectioner's sugar and almond flour together into a medium bowl.
Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and whip until foamy. Add the granulated sugar a little at a time while still mixing.
Once the egg whites have reached soft peak stage, add the food coloring and continue to beat until you reach stiff peak stage.
Add the almond sugar mixture to the egg whites and fold until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
Continue folding until the batter is smooth but not stiff or runny. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops
flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small peak, give
the batter a couple of turns.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. If using parchment paper, pipe a dot onto each corner of the baking tray so that the parchment paper sticks to it. Pipe 1" circles, leaving about an inch in between each. You should be able to fit six rows of four macarons on each tray by staggering them.
Tap the tray sharply several times so that any air bubbles are released. Allow the macarons to sit for 30-60 minutes so that a "skin" develops on top.
Preheat the oven to 310°F. Bake the macarons for 12 minutes*. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Once cool, match similarly sized and shaped macarons with each other.
Transfer the passion fruit curd to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe a spiral of curd onto the bottom half and top with the matching macaron. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
*I ended up losing about half my macarons to cracks, and of the leftover macarons, most of them were undercooked and stuck to the parchment paper. Sadly, I was only able to salvage 8 macarons out of the whole batch. I increased the baking time in the recipe above by a minute to account for this, but you should learn from my mistake and test a macaron before removing the whole tray from the oven. Try shifting one along the tray; if it doesn't budge, let it bake a little more. If it moves, they're done!
Even if you have some aesthetic failures, they still taste great with any leftover passion fruit curd!