Matcha Green Tea Macarons

I love green tea, and I love macarons. It was a no-brainer putting the two together.

green tea macarons

Generally, I prefer flavors that help cut the inherent sweetness in macarons. I like dark chocolate because of its slight bitterness and lemon because of its acidity. Green tea, like dark chocolate or coffee, provides that slight bitterness that cuts through the sweetness. I used a white chocolate ganache base, with an adzuki bean (otherwise just known as red beans) center filling. If you head over to some asian bakeries or grocery stores, you’ll often find that green tea and red beans are often paired with each other. That’s because they’re a match made in heaven. I tested this out with the macarons, and the concept absolutely holds true.

green tea macarons

The ratios for the filling for this macaron is quite flexible and up to you. If you prefer a light green tea flavor, add less matcha powder into the ganache. If you dislike red beans, feel free to omit them. The amount also depends on you. If you make just one batch, you won’t really need a lot and if you make your own red beans, you’ll most likely have a bit left over. There are plenty of other delicious ways to eat them. But if you want to save time and don’t want to deal with the leftovers, you can find them in stores.

green tea macarons with red bean

Matcha Green Tea Macarons

50 g sifted almond meal

50 g sifted powdered sugar

40 g egg whites (around 1 egg), room temperature

40 g granulated sugar

5 g matcha green tea powder, sifted (+ a little extra to sprinkle on top)

preheat oven to 325 F

1/ Sift the almond meal, powdered sugar, and green tea powder together into a medium sized bowl

2/ With a Kitchenaid mixer or a handheld mixer, start beating the egg whites with the whisk attachment. Once large bubbles start to form, slowly pour in the granulated sugar

3/ Beat the egg white until their glossy with medium peaks

4/ Using a spatula, fold 1/3 of the meringue into the almond mixture. Continue 1/3 at a time until it’s all mixed in.

5/ Gently folding the macaronage, continue until the mixture forms ribbons and takes around 20 seconds for the ribbons to sink back into the mixture. Click here for a detailed description on how to make macaron shells. 

6/ Pipe the macarons onto a parchment/silpat lined baking sheet. (My temperature here varies from my original recipe, due to the fact that I moved and now my new oven is hotter than my old one. You can make adjustments according to your own oven.)

7/  Let the macarons rest until a skin forms on top. If you want, sprinkle some extra matcha powder on top. Slip an empty pan into the oven a rack below the macarons for a double pan, and bake the macarons for 4-5 minutes (or until the feet just begin to form). Turn the pan around, turn the temperature down to 300 F, and bake for another 8-10 minutes. The macarons will be done once the macarons no longer move when gently nudged. It’s safer to be on the well done side, as once you add the filling, the texture will correct itself.

green tea macarons with red bean

Filling

50 g white chocolate (preferably valrhona)

50 g heavy cream

1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder (this amount is up to you)

1/4 cup adzuki beans/red beans

water

sugar to taste

1/ Pour the beans into a small pot, and add enough water so that it just covers the beans. If the water gets cooked off later, you can add more. Bring the water to a boil, and then keep on cooking it at medium heat. Cook until the beans are tender. They should be a little mashed up but still somewhat hold their shape. Add however much sugar you see fit (I’ve never measured how much I added). Let the water cook off (if the mixture is too wet, it’ll soak the macaron shell) and let it cool.

2/ Melt the white chocolate over a double broiler.

3/ Heat the heavy cream until it’s almost boiling. Pour a little into the green tea, and mix until it forms a paste. Stir in the rest of the heavy cream

4/ Add the heavy cream to the white chocolate and stir. Let it cool until the ganache thickens up to a pipable thickness

5/ Pipe the white chocolate in a circle on one macaron shell leaving the center empty (if you’re using the red beans). Add the other shell, and you’re done!

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Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Curd Filling and Ganache Glaze

Sometimes, making rich foods is fun. However, sometimes I want to actually be able to eat what I make without the fear of getting diabetes if I take another bite. So, when I had an urge to eat cupcakes today, I knew I couldn’t just make your standard chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting.

I call this recipe healthy, because it really gives you health benefits (or so I tell myself when I’m on my third one). The whole wheat is good for you. The fresh raspberries, although made into a curd, has vitamins and other good stuff. And chocolate has antioxidants… right? But the best thing is that it’s not as bad for you as some of the other cupcakes out there coughsprinklescough. Which means you can eat without the guilt.

The entire process is quite simple. Make your standard healthy cupcakes. Cut out a hole, fill with raspberry curd, pop the top back on, and glaze with some dark chocolate ganache. Despite it being pretty heavy with chocolate, the sourness of the raspberry provides the contrast it needs to keep this light.

Chocolate Cupcakes 

Inspired by Chef John’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 11-12 cupcakes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup pastry whole wheat flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons white vinegar

Preheat oven at 350 F.

1. Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl (from the flour to the salt). Set aside.

2. In a large bowl or in a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Slowly beat in all the sugar until the butter is light and fluffy.

3. Slowly beat in the eggs, not at the same time. Making sure your eggs are room temperature will lessen the chance of the butter curdling on you (trust me, it’s no fun when that happens). The butter/egg mixture should be smooth and still somewhat hold a shape.

3. Slowly mix in the milk and vinegar. This mixture may look quite wet, but go ahead and all of the milk, please.

4. Using a whisk (using the mixer at this stage might overwork the batter), gently mix in the dry mixture to wet. Make sure the batter is mixed thoroughly, but don’t mix it more than necessary. Nobody like tough cupcakes.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes or so. Let cupcakes cool to room temperature before filling or glazing.

Raspberry Filling 

12 ounces fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons sugar

1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch

1. Blend all the ingredients together.

2. Strain mixture into a saucepan, to remove all the seeds. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook until desired consistency. If you run a finger on the back of a covered spoon, the trail should remain clear.

3. Pour mixture into a bowl, and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze 

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (or a large piece cut into small chunks)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a sauce pan, heat the heavy cream until it reaches a boil.

2. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute.

3. Stir the chocolate/heavy cream until ganache comes together and is smooth. If the mixture is too thin, add a little more chocolate and vice versa. Use the chocolate immediately.

Using a paring knife, cut a cone from the top of the cupcake. Fill the hole with raspberry curd. Cut the pointy tip off of the cone, so you’re just left with a flat cap. Place the cap back onto cupcake. Dip the top of the chocolate into the ganache, to cover it. My caps didn’t fall off, but if yours do, spoon the ganache on instead. Grate some dark chocolate on top while the ganache is still wet, if you want. But of course you do, it’s more chocolate.

 

Pierre Herme’s Lemon Tart

Recently, I was browsing through the cookbook section of my local library and found Desserts by Pierre Herme tucked into an obscure corner. Now, I’m a huge fan of Mr. Herme. When I went to visit one of his shops in Paris, everything looked ah-mazing and way too pretty to eat (just kidding, I ate it without hesitation). So, you can imagine my delight when I happened upon this gem.

The first recipe that really caught my eye was the Lemon Tart. I’d seen lemon tarts in his store and had marveled at the sight. The recipe was straightforward: fill a pre-baked tart shell (pate sucre) with a lemon cream, glaze, and serve. The fact that this recipe is so easy is really quite a danger to waistlines around the world. You’ll see what I mean once you try it.

The book claims that this lemon cream is “sublime” and “stunning” and the results were no less than described. The cream itself is absolutely phenomenal. It’s silky smooth, while still giving a lemon punch. I could probably just eat spoons of it by itself, but when I think about the amount of butter that went into it, I set the spoon right back down. So, in an effort to eliminate some of that guilt that accompanies each bite, I decreased the butter. By almost half. In my opinion, the taste did not suffer whatsoever. My guilt, however, did subside dramatically so I indulged. A lot.

Sweet Tart Dough (Pate Sucree)

Adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme

2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 cup lightly packed ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean pulp

2 large eggs, room temperate, lightly beaten

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Makes three 10 1/4 inch tarts or four 8 3/4 inch tarts.

1. If using a mixer, place butter in the bowl and beat on low until creamy with the paddle attachment. Add sugar, almonds, salt, vanilla, and eggs and continue mixing on low to blend. Scrape down the sides if needed. Don’t worry if the dough looks curdled, just don’t overwork it to ensure a crumbly texture when finished.

2. Add the flour in three or four additions just until a soft, moist dough is formed – a few seconds. Don’t overdo this step and I actually didn’t add in all my flour, as I thought it already reached the desired consistency so make adjustments accordingly. Divide ball into three or four pieces. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Leave the dough in the fridge for at least four hours before using (and up to two days). The dough can also be frozen at this stage for up to a month.

3. When rolling it out, lightly flour a surface and continue making sure surface and dough are amply floured throughout the process. Once the dough is large enough to cover the tart pan, roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll it on top of the tart pan to transfer it over. Fit the dough on the sides and bottom. Run the rolling pin across the top to cut off the extras. If the dough cracks or splits, use the extra dough to patch it up. Don’t stretch the dough to fit the pan because it will just shrink back when it’s baking. Prick the dough using a fork (unless it will be filled with a runny filling) and chill for 30 minutes in fridge or freezer.

4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Fit parchment paper or aluminum foil on top and fill with dried beans or rice to prevent bubbling. Bake for 18-20 minutes for a partially baked crust. Remove the foil/beans and bake for another 5-7 minutes until golden.

Lemon Cream 

Also adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme

1 cup sugar

Zest of three lemons (finely chopped)

4 large eggs

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4-5 lemons)

2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened (I probably only added 1 1/2 sticks)

1. Rub the sugar and the lemon zest together in a large bowl so that the sugar is moist and aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, and then the lemon juice.

2. Fit the bowl onto a double broiler. Cook, stirring with a whisk, until the cream thickens and reaches 180 F. Once the whisk starts to leave tracks in the cream, it should be close to being done. This process can take up to 10 minutes.

3. Strain the cream into a blender and let it cool until 140 F, about 10 minutes.

4. Set the blender on high and beat the cream while adding the butter, 5 pieces at a time. Once all the butter has been incorporated, continue beating the cream for a couple more minutes, just to make sure the creamy will turn out extra fluffy and light.

Once both the tart shell and the lemon cream has cooled completely, fill the shell with the lemon cream (around 1 1/2 cups). Use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Heat jelly until it liquefies and pour the glaze evenly on the tart. Serve immediately. I did not have any jelly on hand so I omitted this last step.

Foolproof Macarons: The How-to Guide

Ever since I did a project on French cuisine, I’ve been obsessed with certain little almond meringue cookies called macarons. Now, I use the term “cookie” loosely because I really have no idea how to categorize these finicky little things. And this obsession was reignited with a fiery passion after trying macarons made by Pierre Herme.

After that moment, I proceeded to waste an obscene amount of egg whites, almonds, and sugar. It wasn’t like I was planning on eating all those calories, so in the trash went each cracked and misshapen batch. 

However, after testing various ratios and temperatures, I’ve finally come up with what I’ve deemed as the perfect macaron recipe, which also happens to be very simple.

Basic Macarons (French Meringue) 

Makes 32 shells (16 macarons)

50 g ground almonds, blanched

50 g confectioners sugar

40 g room-temperature egg whites (around one large egg)

40 g white sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F (This is the ideal temperature for my oven. Because each oven is different, you may want to start at 325 F. I know that my oven is on the cooler side, which is why my temperature is higher than normal, so make adjustments according to your oven.)

1. Sift the almond meal and confectioners sugar together. Set aside.

2. In a pristine mixing bowl, start whisking the egg whites at a high speed.

3. Once it begins foaming, start slowly pouring in the sugar. Continue whisking the egg whites until glossy and medium-stiff peaks appear.

4. Pour in 1/3 of the almond meal/confectioners sugar mixture in and fold it in    thoroughly using a spatula. There’s no need to be extremely gentle at this stage. This step is called the macronnage and it is key to the success of the macarons.

5. Pour the rest of the almond/confectioners sugar mixture into the egg whites and fold it so that everything is incorporated thoroughly. The mixture should become more glossy and it should be able to form ribbons when lifting the spatula. However, there is still more folding to be done. Be more gentle at this stage. The egg whites should not be able to hold their form, and they should slowly sink down until somewhat flattened. When making a ribbon on the surface, the ribbon should sink in and disappear at around 20 seconds.

   

6. Fill a pastry bag with the batter and pipe onto parchment paper or a silpat mat. When piping the macarons, keep the piping tip still while piping to get a round macaron. Swirl the tip on the top to finish piping. If you’re like me and you can’t pipe evenly spaced or sized macarons for your life, a handy-dandy template will do the trick. I used this one from yumarama.com and I’ll never go back again. Print two to fit on either half of the baking pan and lay your parchment on top. Make sure to slide out the paper before baking it! The batter should perfectly fit one pan.

By the time you finish piping a row of macarons, the first macaron you piped in the row should already be almost perfectly settled.

7. Tap the pan to get rid of the air bubbles within the batter. Sometimes, using a toothpick to burst the bubbles at the surface can really help. Let your macarons rest until a skin forms on top. The macarons will become less glossy as the skin forms.

8. Put the macarons in a preheated oven, with an empty pan on the rack below it. Having the double pans lets the macarons rise more evenly, especially if you have an oven with uneven temperatures. If you started at 350 F, turn the temperature down to 325 F at around the 5-6  minute mark. Rotate the pan when you decrease the temperature.

9. The macarons should be done at 12-13 minutes. If the tops don’t move from the feet when nudged, they are done. The macarons should not brown, but slightly overcooking is better than undercooking. The macarons will stick and the feet will shrink if they are undercooked. Once you add the filling and refrigerate it overnight, slightly crunchy macarons as a result from overcooking won’t be a problem. Gently remove the macarons from the parchment and let it cool on a wire rack.

– If your macarons are cracked on top and/or there are no feet, it is probably a mixing problem. You might have over or undermixed during the macaronnage step. Letting it rest (if you haven’t already done so) may also help.

– If the macarons don’t smooth out on their own after you’ve piped them, you’ve undermixed.

– If your feet look like they exploded and have overgrown, decrease your oven temperature. However, if your feet look very small and minimal, increase the temperature. The feet should start to form at around the 4-5 minute mark.

– If the macarons have crooked feet, use the double pan method as the temperature in your oven isn’t equal. Often, the macarons around the edges of each batch come out crooked due to my terribly uneven oven, despite using a double pan.

– Aging your egg whites isn’t really necessary, but having them at room temperature helps a lot. They whip up much faster and easier. Separate your egg whites straight out of the fridge then let the egg whites come to room temperature.

– If your macarons stick to the baking sheet or the feet shrink after coming out of the oven, bake them for a little longer. Each oven is different so baking times and temperatures will differ as well.

– You technically should blanch your almonds but I’m just lazy. The little specks you see are the skin – I call them specks of lazy. Quite fitting, I think. However, if you decided to blanch them, make sure to dry them!