something like this) It was pretty easy to pipe the basic shape of the lantern, but originally I had wanted to put a bit more detail on them by using gold glitter sugar, but that just made them look ugly and messy. So I kept them plain, and stole a bunch of little gold strings off my old Christmas ornaments (I knew they would come in handy eventually!), and some little red tassles from some other Chinese New Year decorations. I'm pretty satisfied with the result; they're quite cute and very festive, if a little plain.
pineapple jam as the filling instead. I would have loved to make the jam but I didn't have enough time, or the patience to carve the pineapples :P Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous new year, and sending my love to my parents and all my other relatives overseas. I would love to be in Malaysia right now eating all kinds of yummy things and receiving red packets, it's the last year I'll be able to receive them!
Chinese Lantern Macarons with Jackfruit Buttercream
(makes approximately 10-12 macarons)
100g aged egg whites (you can use fresh eggs too, just make sure they are room temperature. I always use fresh these days, and zap it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds)
110g almond meal, at room temperature and well sifted
200g icing sugar
50g caster sugar
Optional: 1 tsp powdered egg whites (available from The Essential Ingredient), helps to stabilise egg whites but is not necessary
To decorate: red and yellow food colouring (powdered or gel), gold string
For the jackfruit buttercream:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar
150g unsalted butter
1/2 cup canned jackfruit puree (about 3-4 pieces of canned jackfruit) + 1/4-1/3 cup jackfruit sugar syrup from can to taste
Note: if you don't like jackfruit or it is unavailable, you can replace with canned lychee, fresh mango or even durian if you're feeling adventurous
(If you're new to making Swiss meringue buttercream, these wonderful tutorials from two of my favourite bloggers will help)
Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in food processor and pulse for a minute to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse for about 30 seconds to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and egg white powder in a medium mixing bowl until the egg white powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.
Add meringue to your dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white (you really want to beat all the large bubbles out of the mixture, be rough!), then mix carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. As it just comes together, place about 1/4 of the mixture in a separate bowl. Add yellow food colouring to the smaller amount and red colouring to the other and continue mixing until it is the right consistency. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place red and yellow mixture in separate piping bags, the red with a wider 1cm tip and the yellow with a much narrower tip (see photo). Pipe fat oval shapes with the red mixture, and then carefully pipe smalls strips of yellow on the top and bottom of the ovals. Tap baking sheets carefully and firmly on the benchtop to remove any large bubbles.
Prepare the buttercream; whisk together egg white and sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Clip a candy thermometer to side of bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until mixture reaches 70°C (160°F) and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg white mixture on high speed until cooled and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. If mixture is runny at this point, refrigerate for 10 minutes and then continue beating until it starts to hold its shape (this can take a while). Mix in jackfruit puree and then gradually add the jackfruit sugar syrup from the can depending on how strong you want it, taste testing as you go. Spoon or pipe buttercream on to macaron shells, sandwiching them together and adding a gold string sticking out of the top of each one if you wish. Refrigerate overnight in an airtight container to allow the flavours to mature, serve at room temperature.