rhubarb hibiscus macarons

 

I’ve now realized I actually like macarons.

I think previously it was the combination of the price and popularity that made me sort of wary of macarons and a bit skeptical about sincerely liking them.

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I got serious about the circles.

It always starts off a bit stressful when we carefully cut each one (each a different flavour of course) into quarters (which I love doing) and then insisted that someone else have the last piece (which can be a bit more tiring, but also a time-honoured family tradition). The fact that each macaron cost a fair amount only made it the more imperative that they be enjoyed–and eating something while focusing on how much you really ought to be enjoying it is not the best way to actually enjoy something.

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Then there’s the popularity. Things often become popular for a reason, but I also couldn’t help wondering whether I was only interested in eating macarons due to subliminal pressure from their fetishized status. Sort of like cupcakes–I loved them when I was little until I realized that I sort of prefer big cakes more. (Maybe because I could cut whatever size slice I wanted with minimal parental disapproval…) (I still like cupcakes though. Since, you know, they’re cake.)

However after making this batch of macarons I’ve finally realized why they’re so popular. Texturally, the shell is thin and crispy and wonderfully chewy on the inside. Once they’ve been refrigerated, the shells take on a softer texture, they seal together with the filling so the slight textural contrast comes from the very outside of the shells, while the rest is soft through to the middle. Macarons serve as the perfect canvas for highlighting flavours.

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These are things I only truly noticed after having such a ridiculous abundance of macarons of one flavour that I didn’t have to be so tense and careful while eating them. In fact I could eat multiple in a row. And I did.

This is also why I like big cakes and messy cakes: my horrid piping skills! 

This is not to say that I prefer making macarons at home–knowing that I actually like them, I can feel less guilty about buying them! And the variety of flavours you can find at a bakery is something very difficult to replicate at home all at once.

The shells to the left of this photo were baked on the parchment, the shells to the right on Silpat. I don’t really know which I preferred–the parchment came off easier, but they did spread more unevenly.

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But I’m very glad that I’ve made them–so thank you to Lili’s Cakes for the inspiration and lovely Italian meringue macaron shell walkthrough!

I also remembered, in this process, why I only ever made macarons once a few years ago and then never again: the grinding and sifting! I might get a bit faster next time though: I experimented using a food processor, blender and spice grinder. In the end the food processor is still the best bet. The blender did a decent job, however it can only grind a very small amount at a time and so it was a bit tedious emptying it out and refilling it. The spice grinder did rather well too, but it also has a small capacity and it started to smell a bit like burning plastic so I got a little bit worried and quickly unplugged it. The food processor was able to take everything all at once–it just took a while before the almonds were sufficiently ground.

macaron5The rhubarb hibiscus curd was lovely—sour and sweet and very buttery. The hibiscus was also very useful in colouring the rhubarb curd—otherwise, I likely would have chosen to infuse the rhubarb curd with rose instead. The hibiscus gave it a more citrus-y taste, for lack of a better word, but in retrospect I may have preferred the floral taste that rose would have given instead. But at least I was able to finish up the frozen rhubarb from last summer with this post (I also used a bit of it here)!

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I’ve made rhubarb curd of some manner a few times now (this is one of my few truly original ideas, so I’m quite pleased to finally post about it) and I’ve noticed that the colour is very dependant on your batch of rhubarb. One of our plants produces really pretty red stems, and the colour of that curd is also usually a pleasant pale pink. Other times though, even while the syrup is so incredibly vibrant, it can’t stand up the egg yolks and turns into that dreaded unappetizing beige.

The end result however looked like mixed berry flavoured yoghurt. I don’t really like flavoured yoghurt and I don’t really like mixed berry flavoured yogurt even more, so the appearance I found a bit off-putting at first.

Still, better than beige?

Since I don’t love food colouring, I put 2 g finely ground hibiscus in the macaron shells. I suppose I was vaguely hoping it might provide some colour; I’m not sure if you can see in the photos, but it left the batter a bit speckled—brown from the outside, but when you break one of the macaron open, the inside is sprinkled with dark red specks like confetti. It’s actually quite pretty. The flavour came out as well—the shells were a bit tart and fruity. I think it would be too overpowering if I were to add enough ground hibiscus to give anything closer to a uniform colour, or even just a more distinctive spatter. Speaking of which, I think it might have looked nice to sprinkle a bit of the more coarsely ground hibiscus over top of the shells before they were baked.

Finally, happy Fiesta Friday! Kindly hosted by Angie, the Novice Gardener, Julianna, the Foodie on Board, and Hilda from Along the Grapevine. It’s been a tiring week, so I hope these macarons are a good way to celebrate!

Rhubarb hibiscus macarons

I made around 84 macaron shells and 33 fully assembled macarons (using 66 shells) from the amount of filling I had. These macarons, because the filling is so wet, are best eaten only in the next day or two after refrigeration. 

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Hibiscus macaron shells

This Italian meringue macaron shells recipe is from Lili’s Cakes–I recommend taking a look at the original recipe as it’s well annotated with lots of helpful details! I made a total of approx 84 macaron shells of varying sizes. I used 5 and a bit egg whites.

200 g ground almond

200 g icing sugar

3 g dried hibiscus

150 g egg whites, divided

200 g granulated sugar

50 g water

Line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper. Draw 4-cm diameter circles 2 cm apart on each sheet of parchment paper; flip over so that the pencil or pen is against the tray.

Grind together the almond and icing sugar in food processor. Sift through a fine sieve.

Grind the dried hibiscus in a spice grinder until finely ground.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Prepare the Italian meringue: Place 75 g of the egg white in a stand mixer and beat until it the egg whites are at soft peaks. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.

Meanwhile, mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Monitor the temperature until it is close to 240F. At this point beat the eggs a bit with a wire whisk to “refresh” them.

Once the sugar has reached 240F (softball stage is what we’re aiming for), remove from the heat. Pour it in a slow stream into the egg whites while whisking steadily. I found placing the bowl on a wet towel helped it keep from slipping, and agreed with Lili’s advice–it’s great if you can have someone pour the sugar for you or steady your bowl.

Once all the sugar has been incorporated, return the bowl to the mixer and beat until the meringue is stiff and the bowl is barely warm to the touch.

Mix the remaining 75 g egg whites into the almond and sugar mixture, followed by the ground hibiscus.

Lighten with a scoop of meringue. Then fold in the remaining meringue, all at once, using a rubber spatula. Continue to fold until the batter becomes a bit looser and shiny—ribbons of batter should slowly flatten out in around 30 seconds.

Fill a piping bag, fitted with a wide round tip, with the batter and proceed to pipe the shells.

Allow each tray to dry until the macarons have formed the slightest crust—20 minutes; less for me since it’s fairly dry where I am (it’s also lucky I’m a slow piper since I completely forgot about this step, and only coincidentally allowed the shells enough time).

Bake each tray for 6 minutes; then rotate the tray and bake for another 6 minutes, or until the bottom of the macaron shells have formed a thin crust and can be loosened from the tray.

Let the shells cool until they are a bit firmed before removing to a wire rack. Cave in the bottoms of the shells to create additional filling-space, and pair up with a shell of the same size.

 

Rhubarb hibiscus curd

Adapted from lemon curd recipe in Baking by James Peterson. This could be done using more egg yolks if you still have extra from your madeleine shells. I only barely got 125 mL from 310 g, so perhaps use some more rhubarb. The hibiscus can be left out, but do be aware that your rhubarb curd may or may not be pink! I made enough filling to fill 33 macaron of varying sizes to varying degrees of filled-ness. 

310 g rhubarb to get 125 mL rhubarb syrup

4 dried hibiscus flours

a generous 1/3 c of sugar

3 eggs

60 g butter, at room temperature

Chop the rhubarb, place in a saucepan and heat gently until the juices start to come out. Bring to simmer and continue to cook until rhubarb is soft and falling apart. It may help to add the sugar if you’re using fresh rhubarb, or a bit of water or lemon juice.

Line a sieve with a jelly bag and suspend over a bowl. Pour the cooked rhubarb into the jelly bag and allow to drain.

Once the rhubarb has mostly drained, perhaps half an hour to an hour, squeeze the jelly bag to extract as much juice as possible. It would be good to get 125 mL of juice.

Place the juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, add the dry hibiscus, cover, remove from the heat and set aside to steep at least 10 minutes. I left the hibiscus in while making the curd to continue to add colour/flavour, but it could be removed after steeping.

Add the sugar and eggs to the rhubarb juice and gently warm, while whisking constantly. As it warms, stir in the butter in pieces. Continue to cook gently until rhubarb curd is thickened. This can also be done overtop of a double boiler, in which case you may be able to skip sieving the curd.

Once the curd is done, press through a sieve and chill until cool.

 

Assembly

Fill a piping bag with the rhubarb curd and use to fill half of the macaron shells—leave a border around the edges. Top with the other half and squeeze slightly until filling squishes out to meet the edges of the macaron.

Refrigerate overnight.

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55 thoughts on “rhubarb hibiscus macarons

    1. Thanks so much!
      I’m afraid I may have slightly dropped the mantle of macaron skeptic after this… (I feel like such a turncoat now, haha 🙂 …gosh I’ll need to find something else to be skeptical about next!)
      Happy Fiesta Friday to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was the same way! I was extremely wary of the popularity and refused to buy them. However, my sister who is my complete opposite went crazy over them! The first macaron I ate was from the macaron master in Australia, and I understood why it was so popular! (He made some weird flavours!)
    but… seriously… rhubarb and hibiscus? that is amazing! I am definitely intrigued by the flavours and after seeing and reading about yours… I REALLY want to give them a go too! 😀 Absolutely beautiful!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to be reading that I wasn’t alone in my macaron skepticism–or in loosing it!
      Ohh I should look up this macaron master 🙂 They sound like good inspiration!
      And thank you so much!! What a lovely comment 🙂

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    1. It does seem mysterious, but I’m so glad that I tried the Italian meringue style because it’s definitely really stable! The Italian meringue is a fabulous technique–haha, I didn’t mention this in my post, but I overbeat my egg whites (sloppy!) for the italian meringue, but once I beat in the sugar it turned out perfectly glossy and stiff as usual; so all in all I think it’s pretty forgiving!
      Let me know how it goes if you give it a try! I’d love to hear how it goes 🙂

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  2. Your macarons look delicious (great photos!) and I’m very intrigued by the rhubard and hibiscus filling too!!! Hope to try that some time… It was really interesting reading all your thoughts about macarons (and that darned sifting process..!!!). I’m so happy the Italian meringue tips were useful for you and it all obviously worked out. Your macarons are very pretty and delicate, the colour is perfect! Makes me think about not using food colouring in the future… Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      Oh, that sifting! Your advice on doing the sifting earlier in the morning and then taking a break is key for one’s state of mind!! Thanks so much for such a great post on the shells!
      Haha, if I were to make a number of different flavours of macarons, it wouldn’t be very exciting if they all have the same colour shells! Luckily I think it’s only possible for me to make them every once in a while so that won’t be a problem 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! And I’m kind of glad you noticed that about the sifting, because no-one else ever mentions it and I thought it was just me being wimpy!! 🙂
        With different fillings you could probably get away with your pretty pale shell. Would you use natural food dyes/colouring? I’m sure you’ll come up with lots of new ideas! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha–the sifting is such a struggle so I hope it’s not just both of us being wimpy! 🙂
          Yes, that’s true, as long as the fillings are colourful that helps! I’ve been thinking that perhaps sprinkling something on top of the shells would be an easy way to differentiate. I’ll have to look into natural food dyes!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you discovered why macarons have become so popular so that you could master the technique so beautifully. Your choice of flavours is brilliant, and the colour is totally natural as it should be. The next time I get the urge or have the occasion to make them I will revisit this page.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I only worry that in finding out how nice macarons are, I’ll be more likely to spend money and buy them…
      I’m glad you like the naturally coloured shells. It does, I suppose, help that the filling is quite colourful–otherwise they might have turned out looking a bit bland!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. A near death experience with macarons?? I’m glad to have escaped my own experience all intact 😀
      And thank you! My main rationale behind the hibiscus was because I wanted the colour (saying that, I feel a bit ruthless and cruel!), but I did end up enjoying the flavour as well!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Now that I have so much dried hibiscus, I should drink tea more often 🙂 The flavour came out a bit even in the shells from the ground hibiscus so I was impressed with how flavourful it is!

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    1. Thank you! Lili has a good walkthrough of both the italian meringue shell and the french shells to choose from! Haha, I’m quite bad at folding and so I tried the Italian meringue method and it worked so well! (Now if only I remembered to pipe the shells farther away from each other so they didn’t run 🙂 )
      I’m excited to see your own macaron adventures some day!!

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    1. Thank you so much! It’s lucky I only made enough filling for some of shells because I let almost half of them run together from piping too close to each other 🙂 so haha, most of the photos only show the more “perfect” ones, and the rest I left out!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I never get the confidence to make macarons. Ive heard of many flop stories, from people who made them. But yours look really really good. You have given some nice useful tips here. Iv bookmarked it. Will read it later. Thanks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! With all the wonderful baking on your blog, you have no reason to lack confidence!! 🙂 I think the Italian meringue method seems to be very stable and reliable, so for me it was a good place to start!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Just a bit ago I felt exhausted just thinking about making them (or, rather, thinking about sifting the almonds), but thanks to all the positive feedback I feel a little bit more motivated to try again…ack, I’m easily influenced!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, what a great presentation here. Just beautiful, and the flavors of those macaroons are absolutely perfect! I’ve never tried making them from scratch, and maybe I should now try with your great step-by-step instructions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I hope you try someday! I found this Italian meringue method worked quite well, though it certainly does take some time 🙂
      Ah, and a tip: the original recipe that Lili posted (I’ve linked to it in the blog post) also has some videos; they were quite useful as well!!

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    1. They are quite fun! (At least now that the memory of all the sifting has gradually faded, I’m feeling a lot more benevolent towards the process of making macarons 🙂 ) I love rhubarb as well, it’s so fun to work with! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. For a French girl, I have always left macaron making to the professionals. But I’ve never encountered rhubarb ones and I LOVE rhubarb! You have mastered this art in just a few attempts. I am in awe! Now if o ky you could sell them….! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I still do need some work on my piping skills 😉 And I agree, rhubarb is such a lovely vegetable(?) (fruit?)!
      Ahaha, speaking of which, a new macaron and tea place opened up in our city and the macarons sell for $2 each… so yes, if only!

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  7. I’ve never been a huge macaron fan, I thought they were over priced and over hyped. And I’ve always found the shells too sweet. But I made some today (after many, many failed attempts) and used a slightly tart filling and the combination is awesome! I love, love, love your flavour combo. I’ve been eyeing this dried hibiscus in the store by me but couldn’t think what I’d use it for but you’ve inspired me to buy it and put it in a curd or other filling!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, even if I do like macarons now, I’m not so sure I’ll ever be comfortable with how much they typically cost! And I agree, I think a tart filling is a good balance!
      I can’t wait to see what your macarons are like! I always find your blog full of inventive and inspiring flavours! 🙂

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        1. I often forget that simple flavours are sometimes the best! I’m looking forwards to seeing what you come up with–as well as what sort of fillings you’ve been using, as I’m not really sure what other sorts to use! 🙂

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    1. Oh my, thank you so much!! I’m starting to realize that I like flavour pairings with the same colour…grapefruit and rose, rhubarb and hibiscus… I guess I think visually, haha 🙂

      Like

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