It's Donna Hay time again and Glutton Rabbit from Pearl of the Orient is hosting this month's event which features macaroons. These macaroons are so simple to whip up and versatile as you can change them to suit your mood or event.
I experimented with the macaroons, making half portions to test different varieties. My first attempt was to incorporate local flavours - gula melaka (palm sugar in Malay) and pandan. I grated the gula melaka and mixed it with the dessicated coconut plus a dash of pandan juice extracted from pandan leaves. The gula melaka made my coconut mixture brown hence my macaroons looked toasted. I felt the flavours were lacking in that combination hence I set out to make my second batch.
This time round, I was inspired by Coconut Saras from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet whereby coconut macaroons get filled with a chocolate ganache and topped with a chocolate coating. Sounded good but I did not have any heavy cream in the fridge to made the ganache. Hence I made my own version by just pouring melted chocolate leftover from my chocolate eclairs into indents I have made in my macaroons. I popped them in the fridge and we ate them the next day. They tasted really good especially after I left it thaw slightly for five minutes as the chocolate center bit added a nice kick to the chewy coconut.
I was still not satisfied hence I flicked through my Donna Hay magazines and then inspiration struck, how about a mandarin orange version specially for the upcoming Chinese New Year? The more I thought of it, I got excited as I ran through the ideas - mandarin orange peel in my macaroons sounds a bit ordinary, whipped cream does not sound special but mandarin orange curd as a topping will definitely jazz it all up, should I sandwich it just like how they make french macaroons and etc.
I finally settled on what I wanted to do, something simple to follow Donna Hay's philosophy and recipes hence I made mandarin orange curd from her lemon curd recipe and topped it with a mandarin orange segment and a mint leaf painted with egg white and sprinkled with sugar. The whole thing looked fantastic after I assembled it and it was super easy to whip it all up. I got the thumbs up from Splashie Boy who demolished all the macaroons I made (only about six to seven of them since I made a half batch). Personally, I felt the curd could have been more tangy as the mandarin oranges were sweet so adjust them according to whether you prefer your curd sweet or tangy.
Here's how you can recreate this at home for Chinese New Year if you want a spectacular looking dessert:
Sugared Mint Leaf (inspired from this month's Flavours)
Fine caster sugar
Pick the mint leaves that do not have any marks or black spots. Wipe them with a wet cloth gently to avoid them breaking. Using a small brush, paint it with egg white. Sprinkle the fine sugar on top of it or you can dip the brush and paint it on. If you opt for the second option, be warned to do the sugar bit after you have painted all your leaves first with egg white as the sugar will stick to your brush. Leave it to air dry for 45 minutes.
Mandarin Orange Macaroons (Adapted from the original recipe)
2 cups dessicated coconut
1/2 cup sugar * I reduced this to about 1/4 cup as I did not want it too sweet
2 egg whites (Use large eggs)
1 ½ tablespoon shredded mandarin orange zest
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the coconut, sugar, egg whites and zest in a bowl and mix to combine. Wet your hands and roll the mixture into balls. Place on a lined and greased baking tray, flatten slightly and cook for 15 minutes or until light golden. Leave the macaroons to cool in the baking tray when you remove it from the oven. If you remove it immediately, the macaroons will stick to the paper.
Mandarin Orange Curd (from Donna Hay)
180 grams butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup strained mandarin orange juice
3 large eggs
Place butter, sugar and mandarin orange juice in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs. Stir over low heat continously for 8-10 minutes or until thickened. Make sure eggs are at room temperature to prevent curdling. If the curd does curdle, press through the sieve and return to saucepan. Stir continously to prevent it from catching on the bottom until thickened. You can store the leftover curd in the fridge.
Tagged with: Donna Hay + Macaroons