Macaron Satine and the PH Macaron Project
I remember watching Nicole Kidman’s Moulin Rouge exactly a decade ago during my undergrad days, bedazzled by the fascinating sets and exuberant costumes. This razzle-dazzle like fantasy on the life of a young Parisian socialite, Satine leading a life of absinthe-dripped extravagance (Yes! thanks to Kylie Minogue as the Green Fairy!), swooned by men from the streets of Paris, enchanted by her flamboyance, all flocking to the renowned cabaret just to be gleamed by her beauty. ‘Gorgeously decadent, massively contrived, and gloriously superficial‘, are just some of the words used by critics on the movie but I say this is a mere understatement. Filled with song and dance, laughter and tears, this must have been one of the most refreshing musical films we’d seen in this century, since the days of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Hilariously funny and at the same time, heart-pouring empathic, the movie is quite literally a roller-coaster ride. I particularly enjoyed the large scale scenes of song and dance, bearing overtones of a Bollywood production! And how cleverly used it was, such a classic! Now in retrospect, it all makes perfect sense to me the French artistic and haute coulture scene during that era must have been extremely curious and captivated by influx of Oriental and Asian elements, fueling ideas for Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles and Massenet’s Thaïs. And hence the elephants, saris and turbans we saw in the Maharaja scene. Entertaining and at the same time thought -provoking, at least for me!
When I first learned of Pierre Hermé’s Satine dessert series a couple of months back, I couldn’t help but feel extremely curious about the association of the PH’s confections with the Moulin Rouge. Paris, decadence, sugary indulgence, flair and flamboyance… the resemblance between the two is just too uncanny. I’m also very curious to know what it tastes like. Needless to say, very little is mentioned over the internet. ph10 has some recipes of desserts from the Satine series but being a rather technical and clinically written publication, no word on the source of inspiration. Alas, the recipe for the Macaron Satine could be found in PH’s Macaron and I had to get myself a copy and hopefully solve the puzzle. But wait a minute, since when do we ever need
an excuse justification for buy PH’s works!?
So did I solve the mystery?
Here’s the recipe for the filling of Macaron Satine, adapted from Macaron.
Ingredients (for 72 macarons)
Orange Passion Fruit Gelèe
150g passion fruit juice (about 7-8 passion fruits depending on size)
85g of good orange marmalade (I used my own confitures!)
120g of water
10g of caster sugar
6 g of gelatine sheets ( about 3 sheets)
Cream Cheese Buttercream
100g caster sugar
75g whole eggs
45g egg yolks
165g soft butter
375g Philadelphia cream cheese
Orange Passion Fruit Gelèe
Begin by preparing the orange passion fruit gelèe.
Reconstitute the gelatine sheets by soaking them in cold water for about 15 min until soft.
Remove pulp from passion fruit and sift to obtain juice
Heat the passion fruit juice together with orange marmalade, sugar and water. But do not, do not, do not bring it to a boil as that would spoil the natural fruity taste. Just heat it to become warm enough to melt the sugar and gelatine later on.
Sift the mixture into a bowl and add the reconstituted gelatine sheets. Whisk to incorporate until gelatine has completely melted to form a homogeneous mixture.
Sift the mixture into a container and wrap with cling film
Refrigerate for about 1h and then freeze for at least 2 h, preferably overnight.
When the gelèe has set, demould and cut into 1.5 cm squares. Each square should be around 0.5 cm thick.
Return the gelèe oblongs to the freezer.
Proceed to prepare macaron shells. PH’s recommended method is the Italian Meringue method aka macarons au sucre cuit. His macaron recipe is well-published so I shan’t bore you with the details here. If you need the recipe, send me a note.
After baking the shells in both white and yellow, leave them to cool on the racks and start preparing the cream cheese butter cream (la crème au buerre au crème cheese)
Cream Cheese Buttercream
Bring water and sugar to boil in a saucepan and cook the syrup to 120oC.
Start to whisk the whole eggs yolks until they turn pale when the syrup reaches around 100 oC. Pour the sugar syrup when it reaches 120oC and continue to whisk until completely cooled.
In a separate bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Stir in egg mixture and continue whipping until cream is smooth.
Take 250g of the prepared butter cream and whip it with the cream cheese. Pour the cream into a pastry bag with piping tip No. 11. Place a whole pastry bag into the refrigerator for about half an hour.
Montage et finition
To assemble, began by piping a ring of cream cheese buttercream around the perimeter of a macaron shell.
Place a piece of frozen gelèe in the middle and pipe another dollop of buttercream filling on top. Replace with another macaron shell of a different colour and try to spread the buttercream dollop evenly by making small circular motions with the top shell.
It’s that simple
Arranging the shells and getting them ready for piping
Placing a piece of the frozen passion fruit-orange confiture gelee on top.
I used homemade confitures to make the gelee, which were ideal for this recipe since PH called for marmelade d’orange de tres bonne qualite! The egg-yellow ones are made from regular sweet oranges, a mixture of navel and valencia varieties. The one with more intense coloration is from the blood orange confiture I made last month.
Just another dollop of creamcheese buttercream over this and cover with a white macaron shell and voila! Mission Satine accomplished!
As soon as they are assembled, the macarons need to be returned to the refrigerator overnight in an air-tight container for the cream and gelee to set.
Out of the fridge after half a day. Too impatient to wait overnight. A slightly better looking one. Still, not too happy with the shells, alas…
Slicing it open to reveal the innards.
Making and eating macarons can be lotsa fun but having to slice one up for a proper shot can be such an arduous feat! And these are the “sacrifices” that fail to make the mark. La sacre du printemps quite literally.
Flanked by its guillotine, quite a delicious mess, I must say!
So did Monsieur Herme draw inspiration from Moulin Rouge for this creation? He most certainly did. He dictates that the filling should be soft and smooth like satin (and hence explains the use of creamcheese), drawing a myriad of flavours of sourness, bitterness and sweetness from the orange and passionfruit combination. The dessert is named after the celebrated dancer Satine, from the famous cabaret Moulin Rouge. And as PH had very sharply potrayed in his dessert, Satine’s life is a story of the intermingling of different tastes, engulfed in sweetness of true love while the bitterness of harsh reality and sour acridity echo in a not-so-far distant.
Personal Notes and Reflections
This is the first recipe I’d attempted from PH’s Macaron. And I’m glad that I did. Its not terribly difficult to make but the flavours are quite interesting. That’s killing two birds with one stone!
The creamcheese filling was not difficult to make but its difficult to pipe and get the macaron in shape, owing to our humid and warm tropical weather. This meant going in and out of the refrigerator several times. Chilling the cream together with the piping bag inside is something which I’d thought would help. The passion fruit and orange gelee too likewise does not do well in our weather. It begins to sweat quite quickly at room temperature so one has to work fast. One option would probably be to increase the amount of gelatine added but that would definitely compromise the textures.
The blood orange confiture is good for the recipe and I’m glad I used it instead of storebought jars. Bitterness and sweet and sour tang, just the right flavours for the gelee as what PH had strived to achieve.
The shells called for more attention this time than what I would usually think, as they are not only pale-coloured, but white! I remember reading macaron books that generally discourage their readers from trying out light-coloured shells as they would almost invariably turned out browned or burnt. “You had been warned!!!” But I went ahead instead. PH used titanium dioxide in his recipe, not a very common commodity I must say. Thankfully Wilton has white icing coloring which contained titanium dioxide as the main ingredient and that helped to resolve the colouring part. But alas the colouring was far more liquid than the gel paste coloring I’m accustomed to using. More egg white powder to absorb the excess moisture and aging the egg whites for a few days helped. So I experimented with several batches before getting what looked like decent macaron shells.
Temperature control is also a very important factor in macaron making and even more so when it comes to baking light-colured shells. I baked the shells at a lower temperature than expected, but for a slightly longer time, to ensure that the base would dry thoroughly. But the lower temperature might have compromised the “feet development” process as the feet werent as pronounced as I’d wished for. Still trying to do finetuning and troubleshooting on this but I guess the ones I’d eventually made would have to suffice.
I’d made a very very big hiccup when I was baking the shells. I’d moved the wired shelf inside the oven to the lowest position when I was baking the dacquoise and cocoa almond sponge for Valencia, and had totally forgotten to return the baking shelf inside the oven to the correct position for macarons. So that produced 3-4 batches (I’d lost count) of very ugly shells when left me frustrated and perplexed at the same time. It came to a point when I’d thought I’d lost it completely. Jess was there to witness the ugly moment. “Perhaps I never knew macaron making in the first place, ” I thought. So I took out the notes I’d joted from the macaron baking class and backtracked my work flow with scrutiny and finally found the problem. Pure stupidity if you ask me. This taught me one very important lesson, that the mise en place process does not just mean to ensure that all the ingredients are in place and properly measure and pre-processed. It entails EVERYTHING, and literally everything needs to be order. Much like how a pilot and his first officer would run through those cockpit drills before taking off.
Temperature control, food coloring usage, organising workflow and mise en place.. I’d got so much more to learn.
The PH Macaron Project
Alas the beginning of my Pierre Hermé Macaron Journey. I’m a big fan of the celebrated French patissier and look forward to tasting his creations one day and hopefully a chance to meet him in person!
But for now, this is the beginning of a new journey for me, to attempt all the recipes in his book “Macaron”. Sounds like a “Julie & Julia Project” spinoff I know. But this is really something that I’d been thinking about for a couple of weeks now, since I laid my hands on the book. I fell in love with it instantly, admiring the photos inside, reading and re-reading the recipes over and over again. It has become quite a bit of bedtime reading for me, working out the workflow at the same time in my head. And needless to say, I had one-a-many macaron dreams from it too!
Unlike the Julie & Julia Project, I’m not gonna stress myself out by setting a deadline to beat. I’m not even gonna make ‘em in the order in which they are set in the book. So the pressure is NOT on me! Just a task I set for myself to give me some motivation to push myself through understand pastry arts and and of course, Pierre Herme’s creations. It might take months, or even years to finish ‘em all but I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy the process throughly. There would be moments of deep frustration, just as there would be times of immense elation. Hopefully you guys would be there when I cross the finishing line.
Wish me luck!
I’m submitting this for Aspiring Bakers #6: Say Cheese! (April 2011) hosted by Jean of Need More Noms