I’ve been feeling very romantic about spring lately, now that it’s just around the corner. I went for a walk yesterday and caught the gorgeous smell of jasmine in the air. I thought it was the perfect time to use the bottle of elderflower cordial I picked up recently. With its subtle floral flavour, it’s just lovely at this time of year, but I was undecided as to what to make with it.
With the helpful suggestions of my Facebook and Twitter friends, I was inspired to make these macarons with a poached pear and elderflower buttercream filling. Macarons still make me a bit nervous, but after spending an afternoon with my gorgeous friends Steph and Karen baking up a batch, I felt confident enough to tackle them again.
While my technique still needs a lot more practice, Steph’s recipe is brilliant. My shells turned out a little more crunchy and browned than I would have liked because I’m still getting used to using my new oven, but I did manage to get pretty little feet (!!) on my macarons, and I absolutely loved the flavour combination. The elderflower is a lovely touch, and is beautiful with the pears. I can’t wait to try out some other flavours – and after all, practice makes perfect!
Pear and Elderflower Macarons
Makes about 15 sandwiched macarons
Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes
• 110g almond meal, dried in a cool oven for 5 minutes and sifted
• 200g icing sugar
• 100g aged eggwhites
• 50g caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon powdered egg whites (available from Essential Ingredient)
Elderflower Poached Pears
• 1 pear, peeled, cored and cut into 0.5cm cubes
• 1 cup water
• 4 tablespoons elderflower cordial
• 1 egg white
• ¼ cup caster sugar
• 90g unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 3cm cubes
To make the macaron shells, line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in a food processor and pulse to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites and egg white powder in a medium bowl until the 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 to the dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white. You can be quite rough at this point, and 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 the mixture spread across the surface should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place in a piping bag and pipe rounds 3cm diameter on prepared baking sheets.
Tap against the bench to remove any air bubbles and leave to dry for about half an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently, it doesn’t break. Preheat the oven to 140-150°C (285-300°F) and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes. Gently remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
In the meantime, prepare the poached pears. Place pears into a small saucepan with water and elderflower cordial and simmer on medium heat until pears are tender and liquid is syrupy. Strain, and reserve liquid. Allow pears to cool to room temperature.
To prepare the buttercream, place caster sugar and egg white into a heatproof bowl. Whisk to combine and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until mixture reaches 70°C (160°F) and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Place egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat 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. Don’t panic if it looks curdled, just keep mixing and it will come together. Mix in the reserved poaching liquid gradually and beat to combine. Add more elderflower cordial to taste if the flavour is too subtle.
Spoon or pipe buttercream onto macaron shells, adding ½ teaspoon of pears and then sandwich with another shell. Refrigerate overnight in an airtight container to allow the flavours to mature. Serve at room temperature.
Thanks to my cousin Roslyn for noticing I’d left the elderflower cordial out of the ingredients list. Oops!