Monday, September 5, 2011

Sticky Rice & Kaya Macarons

I am pretty excited about these macarons. These days it takes a lot to get me excited about a macaron flavour, I find myself getting weary of them. But this one is pretty special. From the moment I started baking macarons I've always wanted to make a kaya flavoured one. Anyone who has read my blog for long enough knows about my intense love of kaya, the wonderful Malaysian coconut-egg jam flavoured with pandan, which is somewhere between a coconut custard and dulce de leche. It's heavenly. These days you can buy the spread in jars from Asian groceries around Sydney, but nothing beats the homemade version. I'm especially fussy about it because I don't like even the slightest bit of graininess in my kaya, it has to be silky smooth. The only way to achieve this is to stand over a double boiler, stirring it continuously. And I mean continously. I always have a sore arm the next morning. But it's worth the effort for every delicious drop of that golden, pandan-flavoured magic jam.
So I was a little peeved to find out that the most popular way to serve kaya was already being sold in macaron form - a kaya toast macaron, with the butter in the centre and everything! I wanted to try something original, rather than doing an idea that was already out there. So my next idea was a Kaya with Sticky Rice Macaron. This is another common way of serving kaya in Malaysia, either with a big mound of plain sticky rice or compressed squares of sticky rice tinged blue with the use of blue pea flowers. The blue squares version is known as Pulut Tai Tai, you can see a great example photo of this dessert here. It's gotta be one of my favourite Malaysian kuih ever, combining my love of kaya and my childhood fascination with blue-coloured food.
So I decided to include that wonderful blue colouring in my macaron shells, by swirling some gel colouring into the macaron mixture. I would have loved to have used the original blue pea flowers to tint the shells, but I think it's next to impossible to buy it here :( So blue food colouring would have to do. I LOVE how beautiful the shells turned out with those bright swirls of colour. I even used the leftover sticky rice to make some of the actual kuih, which you can sort of see in the photo above. Hopefully anyone who knows the original dessert can immediately tell where I got the inspiration from.
The filling for these Pulut Tai Tai Macarons is a mixture of kaya, homemade with my new improved recipe, and steamed glutinous rice. It has a strong aroma of pandan, the caramelised sticky coconut jam and a little bit of bite from the sticky rice grains, sort of like the rice pudding macaron from Adriano Zumbo. It might seem like a lot of effort for a macaron filling, but you can always reduce the prep time by using store-bought kaya if you're not as fussy as I am. But personally I think it's definitely worth the extra effort. Plus you can eat all the leftover sticky rice and kaya!
Kaya & Sticky Rice (Pulut Tai Tai) Macarons
(makes about 15 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°C (212°F) or less) oven for 5 minutes and sifted
200g icing sugar
50g caster sugar
Optional: 2 x 1 tsp powdered egg whites (available from The Essential Ingredient), helps to stabilise egg whites but is not necessary
Royal blue gel food colouring
Kaya jam, store-bought or homemade (my recipe here)
Sticky rice, cooked and cooled - I steamed about 1 cup in a rice cooker with a fresh pandan leaf, but you can skip the pandan if it's unavailable

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 for about 30 seconds to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. 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 to your dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white (you really want to beat all the large bubbles out of the mixture, be rough!), then mix 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. Using a skewer, dip the tip into the blue food colouring and place several streaks of blue colour throughout the macaron mixture. Place in a piping bag and pipe rounds of about 3.5cm diameter on baking sheets. Tap baking sheets carefully and firmly on the benchtop a couple times to remove any large bubbles.
Leave to dry for about half an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently it does not break. This will help prevent any cracking and help the feet to form on the macs. Preheat your oven to 140-150°C (285-300°F), depending on your oven. Place on top of an overturned roasting tray or another baking sheet if your sheets are not professional grade, for better heat distribution. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Carefully test if the base of the shell is ready by gently lifting one and if it's still soft and sticking to the baking paper, then it needs to bake for a few minutes longer. 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. Mix together equal portions of kaya and sticky rice, I needed about 1/2 cup of each. Sandwich macaron shells with the mixture and then refrigerate overnight in an airtight container to allow the flavour to mature. Serve at room temperature.
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  1. You have definitely recreated the Pulut Tai Tai into a macaron, I love how there are speckles of blue throughout both desserts. So pretty! I've never tried kaya before but the way you've described it sounds heavenly.

  2. omg what an awesome idea! the colouring is perfect!

  3. I am completely in love with your kaya, I've been eating it on everything! So I can only imagine how awesome these macarons are! And so very very pretty :)

  4. These are SO beautiful and they sound delicious!



  5. Wow these are so pretty! I haven't tried kaya yet (very sad) - but after this I definitely want to even more~~

  6. it's always refreshing to see original macaron flavours. these look great, thank you for introducing me to kaya!

  7. beautiful!!!! they look tie-dyed. I wouldn't want to eat them they look way to pretty :)

  8. These are ah-maaaa-zing! I love the blue swirls! Seriously, your kaya is the best I've tasted (I'm actually licking the jar clean cos I don't want to waste a single granule).

  9. lady flower! *insert inappropriate giggle*

  10. lol @ Suze!!
    Kaya sounds amazing! I love the blue :) they look so delicious!

  11. That looks absolutely amazing!!!! I ADORE KAYA!!! MUCH BETTER THAN NUTELLA OR PEANUT BUTTER! kaya is the breakfast spread for me!

  12. Oh how genius!! love the blue swirls too! I also had in mind to make a kaya macaron, but with shop bought kaya (coz i'm lazy).. might have to incorporate the sticky rice too! =P

  13. Very pretty macarons and I like the styling too :)

  14. You think outside the box in a way very few other food bloggers do, and produce the most amazing looking treats because of it! Absolutely stunning

  15. what absolutely gorgeous macarons. The blue swirl is dreamy. Never heard of kaya but it sounds delicious!

  16. omg! I've been collecting the blue pea flowers from my garden cause i wanted to try n recreate a pulut tai tai macaron.. but since the flower itself doesnt incorporate any additional flavour to it, colouring seems like a better idea...

  17. debe de ser genial por las bonitas fotos. Saludos.

  18. Oh those are gorgeous! I love pulut tai tai, it's my favourite kuih!

    xox Sarah

  19. This is so creative! The flavours and the coloring! My only concern, though is that it might be really sweet... Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Shirley - It's not very sweet at all, my friends even commented on the fact. I am always very careful not to make my macarons too sweet, and the sticky rice helps make the kaya less sweet.

  21. Holy bejezus. Struggling to contain drool right now (sorry)!

    So glad to have discovered your blog too, it is gorgeous! Look forward to following :D Already getting really excited about all the awesome original recipes.

  22. I absolutely love this. Finally a local peranakan style macaron. Simply gorgeous.

  23. WOah looks soooooooo good Steph! Can't wait to make my own kaya, and perhaps try these too one day!

  24. The coloring of the shells turned out awesome, and I love the idea of the filling. I've never had kaya, but you make quite the case for it. Thanks for the macaron inspiration!

  25. The color is perfect. Never had kaya before but this is really inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Most stunning Macaron shells I have ever seen. Beautiful job!

  27. These macaroons are absolutely gorgeous! Such an interesting and lovely flavor combination. I have yet to make macaroons but would love to make ones as beautiful as these.

  28. amazing!! leave it to you to come up with most creative way to make macarons. your sticky rice with kaya filling in replacement of ganache is BRILLIANT! good one! =)

  29. Your macarons are such show-stoppers! I don't comment very often but love your recipes and photos. Everything is so gorgeous!

  30. These are so pretty that they could probably get me to eat blue food! I'm the exact opposite of you where I've always found blue food a little odd... =p

  31. i love the kuih on its own, but in a macaron - it must be heavenly! looks like the kuih as well!

  32. Just gorgeous! I love the swirled effect :)

  33. Phuoc'n Delicious - Yay! Thank you :) You have to try kaya!!!

    Helen (Grab Your Fork)- Thanks so much :D

    Lisa - Yay so glad you liked it!! <3

    Betty @ The Hungry Girl - Thank you twinny :)

    sarah nicole - Thank you!xx

    crunchytiger - aww it is very sad! you should definitely get your hands on some

    alanabread - Thanks so much!

    Leah - Thanks!

    Krystie - I thought they looked tie-dyed too!

    K | Citrus and Candy - Thank you dear :) Will make you more!

    chocolatesuze - teehee can't unseeeee

    Nic@diningwithastud - LOL, thanks!

    Kimberley - I can't eat nutella so I wholeheartedly agree!!!

    LucyL - Thank you! It works great with the sticky rice!

    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - Thank you!

    The Procrastobaker - Aww thank you so much!

    Lora - :) kaya is the best!

    Swee San @ The Sweet Spot - SO jealous you have a plant!! I'm sure it will work great with the real thing!

    luisa - thanks

    Sarah - ME TOO! High5 :D

    Zo @ Two Spoons - Haha! Thanks for stopping by xx

    Jo - :) Thank you!!

    Iron Chef Shellie - Thanks Shellie! I bet the thermomix will make awesome kaya

    Jacob - Thanks so much!

    Tres Delicious - You're welcome :)

    Emma @CakeMistress - Aww shucks! Thank you!! xx

    Beth Michelle - Thanks! Macarons are always an interesting baking challenge

    Winston - Haha thanks so much!!

    Patricia Scarpin - Aw you're too kind! thank you!

    mademoiselle délicieuse - haha yeah i'm weird, i have a thing for brightly coloured food.

    Janine - Yay, that's what I was hoping for! Thanks!

    The Food Mentalist - Thank you! really happy with how the shells turned out :)

  34. I love the way you mix Asian ingredients like pandan and foods like kaya in with traditional Western baking. I adore both kaya and pandan but it would never have occurred to me to mix them up with macarons or lamingtons.
    Your work (recipes, words, photographs & styling) is constantly inspiring!

  35. Wow - just stumbled on your lovely site and your macarons are incredible. I'd love to taste them, since don't know about Kaya. Sounds so intriguing. What an inspiration!

  36. This is really amazing! I never really thought about adding rice or Kaya to macarons before. ^^ Smart and creative!

  37. oh, you are so clever! I love how you transform the traditional nyonya kuih into something so elegant.

  38. I think the blue pea flower is also known as "Clitoria", I only know this from watching Gordon Ramsay's show (Gordon't Great Escape) in Malaysia. It was hilarious..

    And I am so loving all your baking ideas! I love Pulut Tai-Tai (not to mention KAYA!).. but too much of a sweet thing is no good for someone who is at risk of diabetes - me :(

    Great food-photos!

    1. Hahaha I found this out on the internet quite recently too! Have you seen what the flower looks like? LOL :)

  39. If I were to use the blue pea flowers for the blue coloring, whats the amount that I should use?

    1. Hi Joy, unfortunately I haven't had the privilege of cooking with blue pea flowers as they're impossible to get a hold of over here so I'm really not sure! Sorry!


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