Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Peach Melba Macarons

Last week was not fun. Sydney sweated through a record breaking heatwave, including the hottest night in its recorded history. Mother Nature and I are no longer on speaking terms. I know I should be used to the hot weather by now, Sydney always has scorcher days and I have lived in places with desert or tropical climates. But I still hate it. I turn into a batshit crazy grumphead. Especially because the heat means that it's too hot to even look at my oven. When it's 42 degrees C inside my house, all I can do is drape myself over our tiny portable air-conditioner and bark at anyone who tries to bother me.
So when the cool change FINALLY came, I couldn't wait to get back into the baking. My Mum is visiting, which is always awesome, and she picked up a whole tray of delicious smelling yellow peaches. I knew I had to use them in a dessert of some sort. I tossed around a few options; peach pie, peaches and cream, peach cobbler, and the classic peach melba. But since I was craving macarons, I thought I might mix it up and make a macaron with all the lovely flavours of a peach melba.
My Peach Melba Macaron consists of a regular macaron shell, a raspberry and vanilla bean buttercream and a super thin slice of fresh peach which has been poached in a vanilla bean sugar syrup. I'm usually opposed to any kind of poaching (poached pears make me sad), but I have to say that this really makes these peaches even better. I love the different textures in this macaron, the crisp outer shell, the chewy inside, the luscious buttercream and a little bite in the fruit. Peach and raspberry really do work magically together. The heart shaped macarons were hard to resist, it's coming up to Valentine's Day after all. They are a bit of a bitch to pipe, I tried a few weeks ago and failed miserably, but I think I might be getting the hang of it. If you are feeling lazy, you can try making these macarons with just the raspberry buttercream. It's really worth it, I was eating the buttercream on its own. So good.
Peach Melba Macarons (Peach with Raspberry & Vanilla Bean Buttercream)
(makes 16 medium macarons, peaches adapted from this recipe)
For the macarons:
100g aged egg whites (you can use fresh eggs too, just make sure they are room temperature. I always use fresh these days, and zap it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds)
110g almond meal, dried in a cool (100 degrees C) oven for 5 minutes and sifted
200g icing sugar
50g caster sugar
Optional: 1 tsp powdered egg whites (available from The Essential Ingredient), pink sprinkles to decorate

For the peaches:
250ml (1 cup) water
150g caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 vanilla bean pod
2 peaches (I used yellow peaches)

For the raspberry vanilla bean buttercream:
1 large egg white
1/4 cup caster sugar
90g (about 6 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean pod
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) raspberries
(If you're new to making Swiss meringue buttercream, these wonderful tutorials from two of my favourite bloggers will help)

Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in food processor and pulse for a minute to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse a few times to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and egg white powder in a medium mixing bowl until the egg white powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.

Add meringue (and powdered food colouring) to your dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white, then fold carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place in a piping bag and pipe on lined baking sheets or silicon baking mats. To pipe the hearts I used a 1cm round piping tip and piped fat 'V' shapes. Gently rap your baking sheets on your bench top to remove any extra bubbles from your piped shells. Top with sprinkles if you wish to use them.

Preheat your oven to 140-150 degrees C (temperature varies depending on your oven).Leave shells on bench to dry for about 30 mins to an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently it does not break. Place tray on top of an overturned roasting tray or another baking sheet if they are not professional grade (this helps with the heat distribution). Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes, then gently remove from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the poached peaches, place the water, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla pod into a saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Bring the pan to the boil and let it bubble away for about a few minutes, then turn the heat down to a fast simmer.

Cut the peaches in half, and if the stones come out easily then remove them, if not then you can get them out later. Poach the peach halves in the sugar syrup for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Test the cut side with the sharp point of a knife to see if they are soft, and then remove them to a plate with a slotted spoon. Peel off their skins and let them cool (then you can remove any remaining stones). Cut into thin slices.

To prepare the buttercream, puree raspberries, strain to remove seeds and set aside. Whisk together egg white and sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Clip a candy thermometer to side of bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees F and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg white mixture on high speed until cooled and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. If mixture is runny at this point, refrigerate for 10 minutes and then continue beating until it starts to hold its shape. Beat in raspberry puree and vanilla bean. Use buttercream to sandwich macarons, with a slice of peach in the middle of each. Place in the fridge overnight in an airtight container. Can be stored in fridge for several days, bring to room temperature before serving.
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  1. absolutely amazing macarons!!! I envy your skill :)

  2. These are so pretty! I love the idea of the poached peach in the centre of the macaron - genius!

  3. wow, i love the look of these ones!!! I tried to pipe heart shapes too last time but my batter was too runny so the shape didn't hold.. hmmmm peach melba is such a lovely flavour too, i get soooo excited when i see your new macaron creations! Thanks to your tips you sent me on email, my last batch of macs turned out lovely - i made a coconut butter cream filling with plain shells =)

  4. Awww how adorable!!! Your heart shells are just perfect! And all in time for the usual 'love is in the air' February ;)

  5. these look absolutely perfect! I tried to bake some last December and I was so unhappy with teh results! yours are fabulous!

  6. They are just the most gorgeous macarons. Perfect for anyone wanting to try and whip some up for valentines day.

  7. They look incredibly perfect!! I would love try this recipe..

  8. Wow they are gorgeous! The heart shape is so cute, especially with the pink sprikles. They sound delicious.

  9. These are adorable and sound delicious! Perfectly done!

  10. Wow, beautiful, but BEAUTIFUL!

  11. Very cute! I love that you shaped them as hearts.

  12. Beautiful! Your hearts are perfect! My post is coming up soon, but the few hearts I made didn't necessarily look like hearts! The peach aspect sounds delightful!

  13. Awww these absolutely adorable! Hahaha I turn into a 'batshit crazy grumphead' as well! Can't wait for winter!

  14. dear steph, why are you so awesome? love, me

  15. These are adorable! I still have not tried making macarons yet. I know how finicky they are but these heart ones are going to make me change my mind!

  16. Awww these are SO adorable. I love the heart shape and I love that they incorporate the flavours of peach melba. Summer in a macaron. Yum!

  17. Wow these macarons look incredible. The heart shapes are so perfect! Elegant and original - me likey.

  18. they are gorgeous steph! absolutely gorgeous!

  19. your macarons look absolutely crazy! crazily perfect! how on earth did you pipe them so beautifully and have them to match - gosh!

    This is my first time commenting, but I always look forward to seeing you post, because of the wonderful ideas you have :)

  20. I'm amazed how I never came across your blog before. I think I just died and went to heaven :)

  21. Just plain macarons are sooooooo hard and I haven't even tried making them. How do you manage hearts?? You are amazing! These are so pretty :-)

  22. Beautiful. I believe you are the best macaron maker I have seen so far and absolutely creative with whatever you do.

  23. Awww these are WAY TOO CUTE! All the heart shaped sweets are turning me off a little but I'd want to keep these ones all for myself! =D And the flavours really do sound wonderful!

  24. wow these are gorgeous! What a fantastic idea for a mac flavor.

  25. These are exquisite! I love every detail you used in staging your photos. Looks scrumptious. :)

  26. Wow!! these look gorgeous!! and the taste must just be divine!!

  27. They look amazing! I was often thinking about making heart-shaped macarons... I probably should try it! :)

    Great blog, beautiful photographs! Wonder why I'm not a reader yet!

  28. Peach melba and macarons?! You could not get much more French. What a fabulous macaron flavour idea. Well done!


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