“Well mam…Your perfume is driving me crazy. Is there anyway we can expedite this order?” said he. She replied, “May I correct you, sir. It is not perfume. It is cardamom.
We live next to a spice merchant and he grinds cardamom all day. It gets in all our clothes.” If anyone has seen the movie “Outsourced”, I’m sure this dialogue would ring a bell! Over the last few days, I have been missing my mother terribly and I knew if there is one spice that can describe her it is Cardamom.
Not only does cardamom have a deep, rich and distinct taste, but also an aromatic fragrance. My mother, a strong individual with her own identity, extremely humble and the most giving and caring person has always been the biggest source of inspiration for me. Missing her terribly, I decided to recreate one of her famous loved desserts, the custard (crème pâtissière). Most of the times, she would use the pastry cream and make it in a lot of different ways to create gorgeous trifles. As for myself, I’ve made a humble effort to use cardamom, ubiquitous in her custard preparations.
Cardamom, being so rich, I thought that macarons would be a fitting tribute. There might be other recipes for cardamom macarons, this is my version of the cardamom macaron filled with a rich vanilla custard! My home was smelling heavenly just as I removed the macarons from my oven. Who needs to use a room freshener after all? 🙂
I was a bit skeptical as to how they would be received. Much to my surprise, they vanished in the twinkling of an eye making me wonder if I made enough? 😉
Makes 24-30 depending on the size
For the pâté à macaron :
93 g icing sugar, sifted
93 g ground almonds
1 medium free-range egg white
Ground Cardamom, 1/2-1 tsp as per taste
For the Italian meringue :
1 medium free-range egg white
1 drop lemon juice or 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
93 g caster sugar
1.5 tbsp water
Green Food coloring (optional)
2 egg yolks
33 g caster sugar
7 g plain flour
8 g cornflour
175 ml milk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
icing sugar, for dusting
Pistachios/ nuts of your choice, finely chopped (optional)
Heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Pâté à macaron:
In a large bowl, mix the icing sugar, ground almonds, ground cardamom and egg whites to form a paste.
Italian meringue :
Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar(or lemon juice) in a kitchen mixer on a medium speed.
Meanwhile, place the sugar and water in a small pan and cook over a high heat until it has reached 117C/242F or the ‘soft ball’ stage.I do not own a thermometer so I just tell when the bubbles are almost the same size, that’s the stage we are looking to achieve here.
Reduce the speed on the mixer to its lowest setting and pour the sugar syrup from the sides of the bowl onto the firmly whipped egg whites.
Increase the speed to high and continue to whisk for 1 minute.
Now add the food colouring and whisk again until the meringue is colored uniformly.
Fold the Italian meringue mixture into the pâté à macaron until it reaches the ribbon stage – this is when a spoonful of the mixture poured back into the bowl sits like a ribbon on the surface. Do not over-mix or the macaroon will crack when cooked.
Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 8mm/¼in nozzle.
Pipe on 3cm/1in discs on the baking trays, at least 2cm/¾in apart. Tap the tray on a work surface to release any air bubbles. Let the macarons rest for 20-30 minutes before baking.
Bake in the oven for eight minutes.As soon as the macaroons form feet open and shut the oven door to release some steam.
After eight minutes remove from the oven and then leave on a cooling rack until completely cold.
Pastry Cream :
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until they turn a pale gold colour. Whisk in the flour and cornflour and set aside.
Place the milk and vanilla bean paste in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 30 seconds.
Slowly pour half of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking all the time, then return the mixture to the remaining milk in the pan. It is important to slowly pour the hot milk onto the cold eggs before you return the mixture to the pan to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
Bring the mixture back to the boil and simmer for one minute, whisking continuously, or until smooth.
Pour the cream into a clean bowl and dust with icing sugar to prevent a skin forming. Cool as quickly as possible, by sitting the bowl of pastry cream in another larger bowl of ice water. When cooled, refrigerate until needed.
Add the chopped nuts if using and fold into the pastry cream.
Assembling the macarons :
Spoon or pipe the pastry cream onto the flat side of a cooled macaroon and top with another macaroon to make a sandwich.
These will make for a delightful gift as well!