Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ice Kacang Macarons (Rose Syrup & Sweet Corn Macarons) - Daring Bakers Oct 2009

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I've gotta tell you my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw what this months challenge was. It was a freaky coincidence that I had just recently attempted macarons for the first time and my confidence was so boosted by that initial success that I had been planning to attempt them again the very weekend that this challenge came out. I had been saving this flavour idea for when I was more experienced, but I took this as a sign that I should just leap in head first and attempt my crazy idea. Now keep an open mind about this, it might sound extremely weird but trust me, it tastes so amazing. Ice kacang (or ais kacang) is a fabulous Malaysian dessert made of shaved ice, thick and bright pink rose syrup, creamed sweetcorn, evaporated milk and other extra sweet things such as grass jelly and palm seeds. It's wonderfully sweet and refreshing and the perfect dessert for the humid Malaysian weather.

Ice Kacang
Many countries in South East Asian use sweet corn in desserts, ice kacang and sweetcorn ice cream being two of my favourites. But mention it to people who haven't grown up with it and they will usually raise their eyebrows in disbelief. I even remember one person saying, "I can't think of anything except chicken and corn soup when I think of sweet corn. It doesn't belong in a dessert!". But seriously people, don't knock it until you've tried it. The sweetness of the corn really makes it the perfect flavour for a dessert. So here was my idea: A rose syrup flavoured biscuit with a sweet corn and evaporated milk buttercream, et voila - Ice Kacang Macarons!

I realised afterwards that my first two Daring Bakers' challenges have been Malaysian-themed, but I had to do this flavour! It turned out to be a fairly traumatic and exhausting experience getting these right. First of all, I had serious issues with the recipe we were meant to use for this challenge. There just seemed to be too much egg white for the amount of dry ingredients, and the amount of sugar we had to beat into the egg whites seemed dangerously small. I attempted the recipe twice with the exact measurements given in the DB recipe and both times were EPIC failures. They were bubbly and cracked without the slightest hint of feet. Wasting 10 egg whites like that was pretty upsetting and I was ready to give up on the whole thing but I decided to give it one last go. I adjusted the ratios so there was more granulated sugar and more dry ingredients (and less egg whites in case it failed again!). And hurrah it worked! I was dancing madly around my kitchen doing what is now known as the 'feet dance', because right in front of my eyes were smooth pink macaron shells with FEET!

I still did a couple more batches after that, tweaking it here and there to get the right colour and flavour. It was really difficult to get the rose syrup flavour into the macarons, unlike rose water it is a very subtle rose flavour and I didn't want to add too much of it to the meringue because it would upset the water balance. I ended up having to spread the rose syrup out on a tray and baked it in my cool oven to evaporate some of the water from the syrup before adding it to the meringue. But it was worth the effort, the biscuits had that distinctive sweet rose syrup flavour infused into it, without being overpowered by the flavour of the almond meal. Note: Rose Syrup is NOT the same as rose water. Rose water is clear and has a much more concentrated floral flavour, while rose syrup is like red cordial with a hint of rose flavour. I also wanted that really vibrant pink colour that you see in the rose syrup, so I was lucky to get my hands on some pink powdered colouring. Though I may have added a tad too much, I freaked out a little when I saw how bright pink it went! But it seemed fitting in the end, and I really loved the final look of them.

Then, disaster struck. I had just dumped my final shots of my macarons off my camera onto my laptop, only to have the hard drive crash before I had a chance to upload them. After several painstaking hours attempting to recover those photos off my drive, I was left with corrupted jpg files that I could preview, but couldn't actually open. It was cruel and torturous, I could see them but I couldn't touch them! So I had no choice but to try making them again at the last minute. Unfortunately my last batch (third photo) were not quite as pretty as the ones from before (first photo), so I was feeling quite defeated. I think it will be a long time before I make this flavour again, as delicious as it is, after making 5 or so batches I'm totally sick of eating them! My boyfriend and workmates didn't mind though, A enjoyed the sweetcorn buttercream so much that he was eating it straight out of the mixing bowl. And all my workmates who hadn't tried sweetcorn in a dessert before totally loved them.

You're also probably wondering how I was able to complete this challenge with my nut allergy. Lucky for me I realised not long ago that I could get away with eating a few macarons without having any reactions, it seems that my allergy to almond meal is very mild. Such a relief! Anyway, I'll give you the original recipe as it was meant for the DB challenge, but I'll also include any adjustments I made during my tweaking so what you chose to use is up to you. I found Syrup and Tang's macaron articles were total life savers when it came to figuring out what I was doing right and wrong with my macarons.

Ice Kacang Macarons (aka Rose & Sweet Corn Macarons)
(adapted from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern)
Original Ingredients:
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

I used:
205g Icing sugar (blitzed in a food processor to remove any lumps)
120g Almond meal (spread out on a oven tray and dried out in a cool oven for 10 mins)
50g granulated sugar
3 large egg whites (aged in the fridge for 48 hours, approx 100g)
1/8 tsp pink powdered food colouring
1 tablespoon rose syrup (spread out on a pyrex plate and baked in a cool oven for 5 mins then cooled until thick, this is not the same as rose water!)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks. (Right before the mixture reached stiff peaks I added my food colouring and concentrated rose syrup to the mixture)
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients. (This was the most critical part of the recipe for me. I was NOT gentle, but instead really beat the air out of the mixture as I incorporated the almond meal. If I didn't I found the mixture turned out really bubbly and without feet. It's really important to know when to stop mixing, and even in my last batch I underbeat my mixture because I'm still super scared about over mixing. For me the mixture was ready when I could drip a line of mixture onto the top of the rest of the mixture and it would disappear after a minute.)
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaron for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

After the first 5 min bake

Some batches had mini feet after the first cool bake

After the final bake

For the buttercream:
110ml evaporated milk
100g sugar
37g plain flour
112g butter, softened
1/4 cup creamed corn
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted

Combine the flour and sugar together in a medium saucepan. Gradually pour in evaporated milk, stirring as you go to remove any lumps (using a whisk will make this easy).

Heat this milk mixture over medium low heat until it almost comes to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir constantly for several minutes until mixture becomes thick and hard to stir. Allow to cool completely.

Beat softened butter in a large mixing bowl until it is pale and creamy. Slowly add the milk mixture and continue beating until smooth. Add sweet corn and icing sugar and beat until combined. Take care not to overbeat at this point or the mixture can split. If mixture is still very runny you can add more icing sugar. Allow to cool in the fridge and then spoon mixture onto macaron shells.

I had some serious issues with my last batch of buttercream which I made. The mixture split and was super runny, so the photos I took at the last minute to try and make up for all the great photos I lost were kind of terrible. I really didn't have the energy to try again, so the photos in this post are the best that I could scrounge up from the scraps of photos I managed to recover.

Batch #1: Before I had powdered food colouring

Batch #2: So freakin happy with these.

Batch #3: Last minute panic batch, a little undermixed

In the end, I feel so much more confident about baking macarons. Thank you so much to Ami for choosing it for this month, it really was a great challenge. It pushed me as a baker and I will definitely be experimenting with more flavours and techniques in the future. Plus they were so yummy that I couldn't stop eating them! I am officially obsessed.

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  1. Wow, those are absolutely stunning! Well done! Mine were disastrous.

  2. You did so well, especially in the face of technology disasters! They look amazing and I'm sure they taste even better!! :)

  3. Congrats Steph! These look awesome - all three batches! Really impressed by your perseverance! Great work :)

  4. Oh Steph! I felt so bad for you when you lost all your pics - all I could think of was "OH NO she has to make more macs!" especially seeing as your first batch that you put on the forum looked so pretty!

    I lovelovelove Ice Kachang. How genius that you've managed to put it together in a mac :)

  5. Steph, your macarons are perfect! I could feel the pain and panic when I read about your computer disaster. Good on you for making yet another last-minute batch :)

  6. Fantasic flavours. The colour is so tempting! Sorry to hear about your computer. Can you believe the same thing happened to me last week. So frustrating. The entire computer was corrupted though. Despite that, your macarons are great.

  7. ice kacang! so clever!!! :) Sorry about to hear about the computer disaster! Lightroom rocks! :D

  8. Your macarons are just perfect! Good on you for perservering after the first 2 batches weren't what they should be - the other 3 made up for it.

  9. Oh Steph, they look great!
    You must certainly be the Macaron master by now.

  10. I've never heard to Ice Kacang before but now I really want to try some. But not before trying your macarons, they're so pretty! I'm super impressed by your perseverance in the face of adversity...just as well you had a batch of macarons to calm you down after it all :)

  11. I also had epic failures with this recipe... I had wasted so many egg whites, that I just couldn't try again (I was out of time too). You've done a great job in tweaking the recipe - your macarons have turned out beautifully - nice job!

  12. Awesome flavour combo Steph! I love Ais Kacang and the sweetcorn buttercream sounds unreal. Your pics still look great! (Btw, I made Teh Halia macs :))

  13. Oh the thumbnails! How heartbreaking!

    But those macarons sure was pretty! LOL I can see what you meant by the extreme pinkness but I think it's perfect :)

  14. These are one of the best home made macarons I have ever seen!!! Good on you!!

  15. Oh wow! For the life of me I would not have thought of ice-kacang. This is great!

  16. Absolutely gorgeous color, and what incredible perseverance -- I would've been devastated to lose all those beautiful pictures! I'm so glad you were determined.

    I'd love to try the sweetcorn flavor! Interesting!

  17. your macarons look awesome. I love the colour!

  18. Hi Steph - I knew it! You pulled it off! Great job. I love the way you used the cream corn filling - I will definitely add to my little bag of tricks! It is such a unique flavour.

  19. What a great idea putting ice kacang flavour into a macaron! They look fantastic - I love how pink they are!

  20. they are so pretty, I adore your pictures.

  21. Truly nothing wrong with sweetcorn in a dessert! The macarons look so pretty in pink!

  22. Wow, those look wonderful! I would love to try one! For some reason I never got around to trying ice kacang when I was in Malaysia last year, but I've had sweet corn ice cream and that was delicious, so I can totally imagine how great your macarons would have tasted!
    We also had serious issues with the challenge recipe and ended up returning to our old trusted one.

  23. Amazing job Steph! This is one of the msot creative flavours I've seen! :D And sorry to hear about all the trouble you had!

  24. You still did an amazing job with all 3 batches haha! So sad to hear about the tech. diff. but it just meant many more macarons to eat yeah? hee hee

  25. Those are so perfect! and the pink color is precious: would be great for breast cancer fundraising.

    Sorry about your harddrive.

  26. WOW what a colour and Ice Kacang Macarons what a flavour and I love how you tweaked the recipe to get the results you did, wonderful talent. Bravo Bravo Bravo. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  27. I think the bright pink is fantastic :D
    I wanted to do a rosewater buttercream filling but got carried away with other flavours and never got around to it, but I must say, your flavour combo sounds really good.
    I personally like my cream of sweet corn on toast :D

  28. Letting you know I thought I'd give you a Shout-Out for having the most perfect looking macarons I've seen so far out of all my blog exploring this month! Good job!!

  29. So gorgeous. Love the colour & flavour & everything!!

  30. Sooo beautiful and they sound yummy. What is up with the challenge recipe? Did it work for anyone??

  31. The color on yours is just beautiful. Mine were brown:) Definitely want to try this sweet corn for dessert! Sounds intriguing.

  32. Food.Baby - Oh thank you!! Gosh I saw what happened to yours, I totally feel your pain! The first two failures were very upsetting for me.

    Lisa - heehee thanks hun!! damn technology!

    Betty - Aw thanks AB! :D Try try try again I say

    shez - Awww shez thank you! you're totally right I was like noooo i can't make anymoreeee. It was a little disappointing that my last batch weren't as pretty :( I love it too, I could eat it everyday :S

    Ellie - I know, it's so weird that both our computers died within the space of a week! Thanks!!

    Julia - Oh thank you so much! That's crazy!! You poor thing, I totally feel your pain. It's so freakin annoying hey? I was just exhausted from the whole process

    billy - Haha thank you :D LOL it totally does rock doesn't it! I'm lucky I had it installed on multiple comps!

    Cakelaw - Thank you! There's always room for improvement but I was definitely happy with my second batch :)

    lili - Hahaha I wouldn't go that far!! I think I'll leave it up to the experts but it was definitely a fun learning experience. Thanks!

    Conor - You will have to try it sometime! They sell it at most malaysian and indonesian restaurants. Thank you :)

    Anita - Oh you poor thing! I know it's so terrible thinking about how many egg whites get wasted when it doesn't work out :( I nearly gave up after the first two but I wasn't ready to accept defeat!


    Karen - I know!! So close but so far :( Yeah at first I thought it was ridiculous but when I reduced the colour for my last batch I found the colour a little boring!

    Brenda - Oh wow! Thanks :) Though I've definitely seen better out there!

    Jo - Hahaha yeah it's just one of the crazy ideas that I come up with in my random brain :) Thanks!

    Julie - Thank you! I'm a bit obsessed with the colour now, no matter how unnatural it is! You should try it sometime it's great!

    Kat - Thank you so much!

    Trissa - Aw thanks Trissa!! I was hoping I would get some macs that were even slightly close in resemblance to the beautiful ones you make!

    Jacq - Heehee thank you so much!

    Wic - Oh thank you!! I wasn't so sure about them since they were the scrap photos that I had left!

    Y - I totally agree, more sweetcorn in desserts I say! Thank you!!

    Jenny - Oh that's great you tried the sweetcorn icecream, it's my absolute favourite! I make my mum buy a box for me before I come to visit! Thanks, glad to know I wasn't the only one!

    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - Yay thank you! It was such a relief to finally get it out of the way :)

    FFichiban - hahaha exactly! My workmates were like "OHHH what a shame, you'll just have to make more and feed them to us".

    Olga - Hehe that's exactly what I was thinking too! It is pink ribbon month after all.

    Audax - Thank you so much! It was especially possibly because of all the amazing advice you were giving out on the forum. You're the macaron expert!

    MandyM - Ooh I've never had it on toast before but I'm willing to try! Rosewater buttercream sounds lovely :)

    Ahmad - Oh wow!! You're too sweet! Thank you :)

    Lauren - :) Thanks!

    6p01053695af5a970b - Thank you! Yeah it seems to be the general consensus that it was very unreliable :S

  33. Peggy Bourjaily - Aw thank you! The powdered food colouring was magic. I still need to improve the sweetcorn buttercream, it seems a little prone to splitting :(

  34. I love the shape of your macaron, it also has beutiful feet =D
    Very interesting flavour combination.

  35. What a killer post, and some excellent photos too, even if you lost some of your better ones. Just the thought of data corruption brings me to a teary state as I've felt your pain in the past (major uni assignment in my case).

    So wish you had some of the macarons left. Would so trade you for some of my ones :)

  36. I've never had that dessert but seriously, sweet corn can go in desserts just fine - it has the word sweet right in its name! Your macarons are absolutely beautiful and I would love to taste them.

  37. This is the most beautiful recipe for rose macarons I have seen yet. I am going to use this for a blogger benefit bake sale this December in Los Angeles. Ty Ty Ty!!!!

  38. I've told you many times and I'll say it again; you're an awesome baker (i reckon with training, the ability to surpass the zumbo) - and the best non-slr owning blogger there is; despite all the setbacks ;) keep up the good work and the awesome recipes!

  39. After all the trauma you went through with your hard drive crashing and all, it shows real strength of character to get back in the kitchen and whip up even more spectacular macarons. Excellent!

  40. what a creative flavour combo - i've been a late convert to creamed corn as a dessert but now i can't get enough of it :)

    your patience and resilience to recreate these for the sake of reader photos is highly commendable too!

  41. Yum! These look delicious. I love Ice Kacang. What a great idea.

  42. Great job on your macarons. They llok so pretty in pink!

  43. My heart sank the second i read your tragedy!! I would have burst out into tears! But despite the disaster the photos you do have are totally fantastic! They look awesome. I'm totally intrigued by the cooking method. I dont think I'll give macarons another go, they seem too much trouble to me.

  44. Linda - Oh thank you! I'm still trying to get bigger feet like yours!

    Simon - :D Thanks!! Oh trust me I was curled up in a corner rocking back and forth when I first realised I had lost my photos :( Uni assignment sounds even worse! Damn, I would totally have traded you! Next time?

    Anna - Hahah exactly! You should try it sometime, it a fantastic dessert for a hot day. Thank you :)

    Food, she thought. - oh wow thanks! Good luck, I hope they turn out. By the way make sure you don't use rose water, it's gotta be rose syrup!

    lex - Aw shucks lex you're going to give me a big head! thanks :)

    Belle - thank you, I just couldn't bear the thought of having to skip the challenge and not show everyone this idea!

    Helen (Grab Your Fork) - hurrah! Good to know there's another convert out there :) Thank you!

    Anita - I love it too! Thanks so much :)

    Lori - Thanks! I seem to be baking a lot of pink things recently

    Maria - Aww! I very nearly did, it was so upsetting! :( They are a lot of effort aren't they?

    Namratha - thanks so much!

  45. i am a closet baker from Perth, WA and happened upon your blog and its been a big inspiration! i just tried to make macs for the first time the other day and reading all your mac recipes and picking up the wee tips you gave each time helped heaps! thank you so much and thanks for being a great baking inspiration! i looooooove baking!

  46. Rachel - Aww thank you so much for your lovely comment, it really brightened my day! I'm so glad to help anyone with their baking, and it's so interesting to hear about you reading through my different mac recipes as I've certainly come a long way since this first version! All the best for your future baking xx


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