Cherry blossom season 2014 will occur March 20 through April 13. The Washington D.C. festival entices people from all over to join in the celebration. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade® presented by Events DC on Saturday, April 12, is one of DC’s largest spectator events. D.C. pulls out all the stops with top American and international artists, world-renowned dignitaries, and city officials will combine to make for an unforgettable kick-off to this long-awaited yearly celebration. This year’s performers include Grammy Award-winning singer Regina Bell and Aaron Carter, along with giant helium balloons, marching bands from across the country, and elaborate floats in a grand spectacle of showmanship seen only once a year during the Festival.
It is definitely time to bake cherry blossom macarons. They are a favorite here and I thought it would be brilliant to share the method of baking theses delicate biscuits. I am constantly hearing people wish they could create their macarons, but are intimidated by the processes. I am going to delivery a tutorial that is fool-proof and hopefully puts your macaron fears to rest.
Sakura (Cherry Blossom) French Macarons:
- 66 grams/2.5 egg whites, divided in half, at least 1 day old separated
- 1 grams/a pinch egg white powder, optional & helpful
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped for seeds keep skin
- 138 grams/ 1 1/8-cup icing sugar
- 117 grams/ 1 1/8-cup almond finely ground
- 22 grams/ 2-Tablespoons grams Cherry blossom compound or organic dehydrated cherry blossom powder
- Sugar Syrup:
- 36 grams/ 1/8-cup water
- 135 grams/1 1/8 cup sugar
- Vanilla bean, skins only
- 66 grams/ 2.5 egg white, about 2.5 eggs whites
- 1 grams/pinch egg white powder
- 7 grams/ 2-teaspoons cherry blossom sugar
- 1 grams/ 1/16-teaspoon rouge food colorant
- 1 Vanilla Bean
- Sakura cherry blossom essence, about 3 drops
- Standing mixer
- Sugar pot or heavy bottom pot
- Measuring jug
- Food processor
- Large bowl
- Large spatula
Find cherry blossom extract and compound here.
Prepare your mise en place.
For the macaron terms please visit: Macaron and Terms
Place the almonds, powdered sugar, cherry blossom compound, and food colorants in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
Sift the tant pour tant in two batches (almond flour, sakura compound, and icing sugar) and set a side.
Prepare the Italian meringue mise en place.
In a small pot over low heat, combine water, sugar, and vanilla skins. Swirl the pot over the burner to dissolve the sugar completely. (Do not stir).
Increase the heat and boil to a softball stage (235 to 240 degrees F/ 113 to 116 degrees C). Use a candy thermometer for accuracy. Wash down the inside wall of the pot with a wet pastry brush. This will help prevent sugar crystals from forming around the sides, falling in and causing a chain reaction.
Meanwhile, prepare your meringue.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the other half of eggs whites and egg white powder on medium low speed until foamy. Add the cherry blossom essence, increase the speed to medium, and beat until soft peaks and add vanilla seeds, and begin to slowly add super fine sugar to the egg whites. Whisk egg whites to medium firm.
With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over the fluffed egg whites. Beat until the egg whites are stiff, shiny, and glossy. Do not over beat your meringue or it will be too dry and break down.
Take the bowl with your tant pour tant (almond mixture) and add the reserved half of the egg whites.
Add a third of the meringue to the tant pour tant, give it a quick fold to break some of the air, keep folding till the almond mixture is mixed into the meringue, and then fold another third of the meringue into the batter, continue to vigorously fold till there are no white streaks. Now add the last third of the meringue to the batter, fold till thick, shiny and ribbons fall from the spatula. Fold the batter carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself and resembles shiny cake batter. There is no magic, I am not going to tell you that the batter should look like magma, I doubt you have ever seen it up close, I know I haven’t!
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto silicone mats lined baking sheets or parchment paper lined baking sheets. A vented jellyroll pan edge free is perfect. Rap the jellyroll pan on the counter to allow air bubbles to be released.
Let the macarons to sit out for about 1 hour to make sure the shells are hard. A well-made macaron features a crinkly “foot” on the bottom of each shell. Let the piped batter rest for 30 to 60 minutes, check for a skin to develop and place in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F/ 149 degrees C.
Right before placing the macarons in the oven reduce the heat to 280 degrees F/ 138 degrees C.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.
Bake the macarons for 5 minutes, then quickly open the oven door, turn the pan, and close the oven. Bake them for another 5 minutes and open and close the oven again. Continue to bake the macarons until the tops are rounded and firm and a craggy ridge, the foot, has formed around the base, about 5 minutes (check the macarons after a couple of minutes, as the baking time will vary by the oven).
Remove the silicone mat or parchment paper with the macarons still attached to a cooling rack; so they do not become soggy. Once the macarons are freely loosen from the silpat/parchment paper transfer to another cooling rack for a good 2 hours.
Crème Frâiche Cherry Blossom Filling:
- 134 gram/ 4.75-ounces crème frâiche, very cold
- 122grams/1/2-cup heavy cream
- 31 grams/1/8-cup mascarpone cheese
- 15 grams/ 1-Tablespoon icing sugar
- 3 drop cherry blossom essence
- 1/4-teaspoon cherry blossom compound, optional
- Pinch of salt
I generally pipe the filling the next day.
Place the filling in a disposable pastry bag fitted with an open star tube/tip.
Pipe from the outside toward the center of a macaron and gently place a second macaron on top.
Buttercream is another excellent choice for a macaron filling, white chocolate ganache takes the macaron to a whole new flavor sensation!
French macarons are not daunting as thought.
If you have any questions please leave a comment; as always I would love to your French macarons (any flavor you choose) and post the photo to my FaceBook page!
To create a Strawberry-Cherry Blossom Macaron substitute strawberry (organic and dehydrated) powder for the Cherry blossom compound.
Happy Cherry Blossom Season!