As you can see, I've been having another go at macarons. This time, I wanted to move away from chocolate though, and decided to try something, for me, a little bit different. I've had a bottle of rose water in my cupboard for some time. I can't remember why I bought it - probably for some creation that had caught my eye which I then didn't make. Rose water, though, always reminds me of Turkish Delight. This was a Christmas treat in our house as my Nan loved it. I remember being fascinated by the exotic packaging and contents with the colourful box. But it didn't just come in a box, it had tissue paper! And icing sugar! And the heady perfume when the box was opened. The best bit was taking one of the cubes - the hesitation: which one? Pink or white? And then, after cramming it in my mouth, licking my fingers of the dusty, sweet sugar. A definite treat but you could not eat more than a couple of lumps at a time. These macarons remind me of that Turkish Delight. They made me smile.
Some time ago, I bought a couple of copies of Love Baking Magazine (my thoughts on this are here). I have to say that I wasn't that impressed. It wasn't fantastic, and I felt it was a bit too pricey for just 'meh'. So when I saw another publication, 'Cupcake Heaven' at the newsagent, I was a little wary. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Retailing at £4.99 (quarterly), it doesn't come with any freebies (the quality and cost of which advertised by the publisher I always doubt anyway!). But it is chock full of 101 recipes, along with some other features such as hints and tips. This was a bit more like it. So much so, that when I saw that the same publishers have brought out another variation 'Baking Heaven', I decided to give that a go, too. Again, it's full of recipes and covers Cookies and Biscuits, Cakes, Puddings, Tarts and Pies, and Teatime Treats. There were a number of recipes that caught my eye, and triggered some inspiration. Rose Macarons were one, but I didn't fancy the filling (whipped double cream and more rosewater), which I thought would be too much with macarons that also had rose in them. I decided to have a play around.
So, Rose Macarons with a Lemon Cream Cheese Filling, taking their inspiration from that box of Turkish Delight, were what I came up with. The sharpness of the lemon and cream cheese filling is a perfect foil for the sweet rose meringue. I used some natural crystallised rose sand to decorate one half of the shells, which I got from Edible Glitter. The macaron method is exactly the same as I used previously, but on this occasion, I tried them without leaving the egg whites to age on the counter (I've previously left them for about an hour and a half before making up the mix). I didn't notice any difference by not leaving them to stand.
Rose Macarons with a Lemon Cream Cheese Filling
Ingredients (makes 24)
75g ground almonds
115g icing sugar
2 large free range egg whites
50g caster sugar
1/2 tspn rose water
pink gel paste food colouring
(rose sand to decorate - optional)
For the filling
100g cream cheese at room temperature
200 - 300g icing sugar, sifted
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 - 2 tspn fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 140 fan / 160 conventional. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicon macaron mat.
Place the almonds in a food processor along with the icing sugar. Pulse a few times to grind a little more finely and mix well. Sift the mixture twice to remove any of the larger pieces of nut remaining.
Whip the egg whites to the soft peak stage. Continue whipping, but add the caster sugar bit by bit, until you have a smooth, glossy meringue mix. Add the rose water, and some pink food paste and mix until incorporated.
Add half of the almond mix to the egg whites and gently fold in until the mix is smooth. Add the rest of the almond mixture and fold in until the mixture is glossy and falls in a ribbon from your spatula.
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round nozzle. Pipe 48 rounds on your prepared baking sheet and remember to allow for spreading - the silicon mat I use has 3cm round circles as a template, spaced apart so as to allow for spreading.
At this stage you can add some decoration, eg the rose sand, to half of the macaron shells.
Leave to form a skin for at least 30 minutes - I left mine for 45 minutes but you can go up to 1 hour. They need to be no longer sticky to the touch.
Place in the oven for approx 15 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately (and carefully) slide the paper off onto a wire rack, and allow to cool completely.
Remove the macarons from the paper (it's best to peel the paper from the mac, rather than the other way around, as this minimises the chances of cracking). Organise the mac shells into pairs of the same size ready for filling.
To make the filling, beat the cream cheese with the lemon zest until smooth. Gradually add in the icing sugar until you get the consistency you like. Add in the lemon juice, to taste, and then add in a little more icing sugar if necessary.
Pipe, or spread, a little of the lemon filling onto half of the macaron shells, then sandwich together.
The one thing I noticed was that despite my thinking that I had used plenty of food colouring to get a lovely pink colour, they still baked a much paler shade, and with a hint of orange - more of a salmon pink than the rose (you can see the differnce in the before and after baking pictures!). So I'd add a bit more again next time. I'm also wondering though, whether it has something to do with the oven timing and temperature? I may well experiment a bit next time, with a slightly lower temperature and then, if necessary, cooking for a little longer.
Anyway, the resulting macs were lovely - a great texture with the rose balanced nicely by the lemony cream cheese.
I'm going to enter them in this month's Teatime Treats blogging challenge, organised by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and Kate of What Kate Baked. This month the theme is floral flavours or flowers, and is hosted by Karen. Why don't you pop over to Lavender and Lovage on 1 June, and find out what other fabulously floral creations there are?
In the meantime, these macs would also be perfect for a birthday or Mother's Day present, wrapped up in some pretty packaging ...
* The copies of Cupcake Heaven , Baking Heaven and Love Baking, along with the edible rose sand, were bought by me. This is in no way a sponsored post, or has any affiliation to those products.