I am nervous before I attempt any Raymond Blanc’s recipe. I don’t dote on celebrities or people much, but he is an exception. His recipes are precious and somewhere I feel like if I fail them, I’ll let him down.
On a usual day of baking, I am fairly well prepared. On a day when I am attempting one of Raymond’s recipes I am shockingly meticulous. I stick the recipe on a wall in front of me. I measure the ingredients and lay them out in bowls. I read the recipe 10 times, at least, after watching the video 4-5 times.
In all the times I’ve tried one of Raymond’s recipes, this time was extra special, extra important, this time I endeavoured one of his gorgeous chocolate cakes, Gâteau de Macaron, for Pavan’s birthday.
For his last birthday, I baked Nigella’s chocolate fudge cake, simple, decadent and perfect for someone who loves his chocolate. This time, I wanted something grand yet elegant, something relatively challenging, something people don’t forget that easily, some taste that lingers on for eternity.
“It is wonderful, of course delicious and it will make the perfect birthday cake,” says Raymond in his show Kitchen Secrets. So Gâteau de Macaron it was; I just couldn’t think of anything more ideal.
How was I going to pull this off? The cake itself was a cakewalk but I am someone who has a record-breaking number in failed attempts of macaron making. I just about figured out a macaron recipe that worked for me and came close to making a few that remotely looked like macarons.
Now, I not only had to make macarons, but a macaron base for the rich, chocolate délice to sit on and heart shaped macarons. I didn’t want to go wrong with this cake, so after much contemplation, I used my tried and tested macaron recipe to make the base and the macaron shells in place of Raymond’s chocolate macarons that uses unsweetened, melted chocolate. I think I made the right call, although, on a day when it is okay to take chances, I am going to make his chocolate macarons.
The cake turned out just like I wanted it to, the crowd loved it, Pavan loved it and I will reiterate what Raymond says in the episode – it is pretty, it is fun, it is celebratory and they will love you for it…even you if you fail, it is never a catastrophe because most patissiers will take at least 10 years to do the perfect macaroons and I am still working at it. If those are not words of encouragement, I don’t know what is.
Adapted from Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets
For macaron base and shells
- 125 g almond meal
- 125 g icing sugar
- 40 g egg white (in one bowl)
- 50 g egg white (in a large stainless steel bowl)
- 110 g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- Drop of gel food colouring of your choice
For the chocolate délice
- 140 ml whole milk
- 325 ml double cream
- 2 eggs
- 340 g chocolate, chopped
- Icing sugar, to dust
Note: You will need a 5.5 inch ring mould to make this cake. I made the macarons a day earlier to make my life easier. Also, macarons taste best the day after they’ve been made.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In one sheet, using the 5.5 inch ring mould, draw a circle using a pencil. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 170 C.
- For the macarons, in a food processer, blend the almond meal and icing sugar together until fine. Sift the mixture twice. Add 40 g of egg whites to the almond-icing sugar mixture and combine with a spatula until you obtain a paste. At this point, add a drop of the gel food colouring and combine till the colour has been incorporated well.
- Beat 50 g of egg whites with an electric beater on medium speed until frothy. In a sauce pan, add the sugar and 2 tbsp of water and bring to boil on medium-low heat. Cook the syrup till the sugar thermometer reaches 115 C. If you don’t own a sugar thermometer, you should look for soft ball consistency.
- Once it reaches 115 C, gently trickle the syrup into the egg whites, while beating it on medium speed. Beat the egg whites until you obtain shiny, stiff peaks (the bowl has to become cold from the outside).
- Fold in the egg whites mixture into the almond paste. Do not over fold, anything more than 50 turns, you are doing the wrong thing.
- Fit a piping bag with ½ inch plain tip. Fill the piping bag with macaron batter.
- For the macaron base, hold the piping bag at 90 degrees. Start from the center of the drawn circle, and pipe in concentric motion, until you touch the circumference (edge) of the drawn circle. Pipe heart shapes, by tilting the piping bag at 45 degrees and piping two small tear shapes, ends meeting each other. Learn how to here. Pipe a 2 inch log shaped macaron as well.
- In the other sheet, pipe 2.5” macaron circles.
- Allow the 2nd sheet to rest, for half an hour. In the meantime, bake the base and the heart shape macarons for 10 minutes.
- Once they are done, bake the macaron circles for 12-15 minutes.
- Once done, cool the macarons, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate them before using.
- For the chocolate délice, bring milk and cream to the boil. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Pour the boiled cream-milk mixture into the beaten eggs while whisking (otherwise the eggs will curdle). Whisk till the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken and then add the chopped chocolate. Combine till the chocolate melts into the egg-milk mixture and you obtain a rich, velvety chocolate cream.
- Take the macaron base out and place the cake board over a tray. Place the 5.5 ring mould over the macaron base and press it tightly over the base so that the excess portion comes off clean. Pour the délice over the base and let it refrigerate for 3-4 hours until set.
- Once set, take the délice out and unmold it. To decorate, drizzle over some dark chocolate and white chocolate sauce in zigzag pattern. Place the log shaped macaron on top of the cake. Place two heart shaped macarons on top the log. Stick the round shaped macaron shells on the side of the délice. Dust icing sugar.
- Refrigerate until ready to cut and serve.