Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pumpkin Seed & Matcha Macarons with Coconut, Dark Chocolate Ganache by Brave Tart

Ever since Stella of BraveTart (@TheBraveTart) said yes, I've been racking my brain on how to put into words the enormity of her talent. Clearly an overachiever, CIA graduate working as a pastry chef 24/7 at Table 310, teaming up with an equally brilliant photographer, Rosco, for postings on her site and graciously finding time to guest without flinching.

Once in awhile when I am bound to quit my addictive twitter 'habit' I come across a compelling reason why not to. Thanks to Mardi, of Eat. Live. Travel. Write., introduction to BraveTart I am still here. Not only Stella's creativity is exponential, but she is not only a brave but also a smart tart!:)  Mad scientist meets an edgy girl with heightened intuition for flavor, ratio combinations and best kitchen practices and techniques. In a sea of exceptional talents she sets herself apart just by being her genuine, original self! So it won't come to you as a surprise to hear that she is the go to source for advice and tips for many inexperienced and experienced twitter friends alike.

Off-the-cuff she had a million  (well many) brilliant ideas. Quite coincidentally she seamlessly combined three cultures in one, Matcha from her experiences in Japan, pumpkin seeds are as big in Israel and coconut milk in ganache of course represents India. Stella's compiled macaron tablets The Ten Commandments ...of macarons. So here is Stella:

Macarons have a reputation as culinary troublemakers, but in the restaurant where I work, they've saved my butt time and again. Most nights, they just do their job. Tasty little cookies that march out of the kitchen one dessert plate at a time. Just plain ole' macarons. But at the Zero Hour when a last minute reservations flagged, "celiac; lactose intolerant; nut allergy" pops up on our books, I don't bat an eyelash. My macarons take off their Clark Kent glasses to reveal themselves as Super Macarons: nut free, dairy free, dye free, gluten free and, of course, ridiculously delicious.
Photo  by Rosco Weber, sideshowphoto
Even more super, you don't have to work in a restaurant kitchen to make them for yourself. The hardest part of making nut free macarons at home? Writing, "pumpkin seeds" on your grocery list.


The naturally green color of pumpkin seeds gives the final macarons the palest of green hues. So rather than fight this color, I embrace it with the addition of matcha, one of my favorite flavors and a potent natural colorant. Many people call matcha, "green tea" but I find that misleading. The Japanese language refers to matcha and green tea with two separate words because they are two separate things.While getting into the semantics of the issue lies totally outside the scope of this little guest post, I bring up this difference for an important reason. You can't make matcha macarons out of grocery store green tea.

Buy matcha at your local Japanese market, or online. My favorite source is a nearby tea shop that imports a type of matcha with an especially robust flavor meant for culinary applications. The best matchas are meant for drinking not baking; their flavor is quickly diluted by the heaps of sugar in a macaron recipe and what's left won't hold up to the heat of an oven.

(a link to my favorite matcha,
http://www.essencha.com/ProductDetails.aspx?SID=5EDA424F-6EF0-4B6E-897C-F022787B3200)
If getting a hold of matcha proves more trouble than you'd care to invest, feel free to simply leave it out of the recipe.

Pumpkin Seed & Matcha Macarons
4 ounces (115g) toasted pumpkin seeds
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar
1 Tbsp matcha
5 ounces egg whites (144g)
2 1/2 ounces (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp (2g) salt

Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip, along with two sheet pans lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, grind the pumpkin seeds, powdered sugar, and matcha for one minute. Take the mixture out and sift it, reserving whatever bits don’t pass through the sieve. Repeat processing and sifting until all of the mixture can pass through a sieve.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean and salt. Turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes.

Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.Whip for a final minute on the highest speed. At the end of this minute you should have a very stiff, dry meringue.

Now dump in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Fold until the mixture has a cake-batter like consistency, but enough body to stay in the bowl if held upside down for a moment.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe into 1" circles on the parchment lined baking sheet. Leave an inch between each macaron.

After piping the macarons, take hold of the sheet pan and rap it against the counter. Rotate the pan ninety degrees and rap two more times. This will dislodge any large air bubbles that might crack the macarons.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the macarons can be cleanly peeled away from the parchment paper. If they stick to the paper, they're not done yet.

Once the macarons have baked, cool thoroughly before removing the from the parchment.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
4 ounces (144g) coconut milkor whipping cream
4 ounces (144g) dark chocolate, chopped
a pinch of salt

In a small pot, bring the coconut milk to a boil. Add the chocolate and salt and whisk until smooth. If the mixture seems slightly broken, whisk in additional coconut milk, a Tablespoon at a time, until the ganache becomes smooth and shiny. Refrigerate, stirring often, until the ganache becomes thick enough to pipe.

Use a pastry bag to pipe a heaping teaspoon of ganache into half of the macaron shells. Top each mount of ganache with another macaron shell and press slightly to sandwich the two halves together.

Macarons, against all pastry traditions, actually get better with age. The shells soften and become more chewy, mingling with the flavor of the filling too. So, while of course you can eat them right away, don’t hesitate to store them refrigerated for up to a week. Let them come to room temperature before enjoying.

Tree Nut Free Macaron Series:
Mocharons, Chocolate-Coffee Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache by The Daily Palette.
Pumpkin Seed & Matcha Macarons with Coconut, Dark Chocolate Ganache By BraveTart.
Go to both sites and show both girls some Macaron love!

35 comments :

  1. So nice to see Stella here! Love the Japanese touch in her macarons. Matcha is one of my favorite flavors :D I want to try making ganache with coconut milk, thanks for sharing! Simply gorgeous.

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  2. Beautiful macarons and very nice post! I love the combination of flavors and the variation on the traditional macarons. Pumpkin seeds, matcha and coconut milk in a traditionally French treat? It's beautifully international! :-)

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  3. I WAS going to make pumpkin seed brittle this week, but this looks heaven sent! Hoping to have enough seeds at home! Love this!

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  4. Wow! These are so gorgeous and have an amazing combination of flavors!

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  5. Just beautiful. What is the prop you have used? I cannot put a name to it. But it is spectacular.

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  6. I need to get my macarons on. A fun guest post.

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  7. Wonderful guest post and these look amazing...I am sure they taste equally brilliant :)

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  8. oh wow awesome macarons will check out her blog

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  9. So strange to come home from work and check someone else's blog for comments! :) I'm glad everyone is enjoying macarons today. Many thanks again to Shulie for letting me come play on her blog.

    I wanted to answer Champa's question: it's a bamboo whisk, called a "chasen." It's used in the Japanese tea ceremony to prepare the matcha for drinking. I have a tea bowl and whisk at home for making matcha, which I like to drink from time to time even without a ceremony. :)

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  10. wow, what a unique combo!!! i love matcha and pumpkin. never thought about combing them! beautiful. :D

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  11. Beautiful, just beautiful macarons and a lovely post! An excellent choice on the combination of flavors. Well done. We have found ourselves another Mac Queen.

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  12. This is truly a work of art. So glad you connected w Stella. She make these sound absolutely effortless ... as if, but I'll definitely try.

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  13. Thank you for introducing me to a wonderful new blog and photographer. The macarons as Ken mentions above, is truly a work of art.

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  14. Wow. It's been ages since I made macs but these are truly inspiring!

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  15. wow! clever! I'm definitely bookmarking this..

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  16. I'm still a bit intimidated by making macarons, but hope to try these in the future. I love the restaurant story and how these often turns into Super Macarons. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. absolutely brilliant! i just posted about my macaron baking experience too, i wish they looked as nice as yours! will probably try pumpkin seeds in my next attempt as almonds are quite expensive here. thanks for sharing!

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  18. Truly brilliant. Stella is a dessert genius! And Rosco's photographs are always gorgeous. So excited to give these a try.

    And, equally excited to have found your lovely blog for the first time!

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  19. fabulous!! Missed your incredible work while I was out of town

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  20. I've never seen macarons made with anything but almond flour, so these are a surprise to me! Definitely something worth experimenting with!
    -Karriann Graf
    http://creativecookingcorner.com

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  21. Wow these look fantastic! Love the combination of coconut and chocolate and green tea. And such a lovely shade of green!

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  22. Thank you everyone so much fun having Stella spend some time on my site. Champa, Great question I was wondering the same and didn;t have achance to ask Stella! Stella, how cool to tie props with the theme/subject matter & such a unique one too. For those of you who are new to me welcome and nice to meet you!

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  23. This is brilliant! Using pumpkin seeds instead of nuts. And coconut milk ganache .... even more briliant! Great post! I must admit to making the mistake about macha tho :D

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  24. Congrats ladies on Foodbuzz Top 9! As I was experimenting with my submission for this series yesterday, I kept coming back to this post for inspiration - as Ken says, Stella makes macarons look effortless and her "method" certainly works for regular macarons, However, once *I* start mixing it up a bit and using different ingredients, I need to take copious notes as to what works, and why. I hope I can come up with something worthy!

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  25. These pumpkin seed macarons look fabulous. Great guest post - I love reading Stella's posts and well done on this Top9! Imagining the flavours in there, as they sound beautiful. Interesting about the Matcha comment, as it took me a while to realise the difference until I got my hands on the real Matcha. Coconut and chocolate, too? Sensational.

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  26. Congrats ladies on the top nine! Nice guest post. I just received Jill's (above commenter) book "Mad About Macarons" this week in the mail. I'm excited to give them a shot!

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  27. Hi There, The macroons are looking absolutely delightful. Loved the new combo of ingredients and the recipe is so nicely made and presented. Saving this recipe of urs and wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day….Sonia !!!

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  28. These look amazing, and Stella's position that they aren't difficult to make has erased my fear of the macaron. Not only that, the education about matcha vs. green tea is great - I had no idea, and love tidbits like that. Thank you Shulie and Stella for sharing!

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  29. I'm thrilled that you have developed a recipe for MY family. (I flatter myself) I'm a pastry chef who found out late in life that I have celiac disease. Then I entered the land of kiddos and...I now have a 5 year old son with nut allergies, a wheat allergy, corn allergy and a few others! He recently grew out of the dairy allergy, but I am always coming up with new ways to defeat the allergy gods. I haven't adapted macarons yet, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart! You guess are an awesome duo!

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  30. Gorgeous macarons. I love the green color. Pumpkin seeds and matcha...yummy.

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  31. Thank you all isn't the macha info very curious. I love those tidbits of education. Thank you all for the top 9 love, wouldn't of course be possible w/o Stella's & Rosco's creativity and generosity of the heart!
    @freeeatsfood I am happy you left a comment, on Stella's site as well, there were couple of comments from people who are living with allergies. Without being preachy I wanted to raise awreness to allergy living as in our case started with soy, eggs and all poultry, but gre out of. Always and still have tree nuts, kiwi and shellfish as well as to dust mites seasonal environmental and astma. I know the challenges of sleep deprivation especially felt for my kid growing up, but often I couldn't function as well during the day. Doctors changing train of thoughts and finding the right antihistamines which won't make you sleepy during the day. Not to mention the myriad challenges with food. As a pastry chef you are probably aware for example most chocolate produced in facilities processing nuts. I am happy to report my son now 18 and healthy managing his allergy to the best of his abilities. This space is tree nut free. Many gluten free recipes as well. So I am here if you need to drop me an email. Shulie

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  32. Pumpkin seeds! I would never have thought of that, how genius!

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  33. I love the combination of flavors. Outside the box and yet they work so well together!

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  34. Just absolutely gorgeous...Stella's been blessed by the Mac Gods. WOW!

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