MASALA CHAI ICE CREAM with LAVENDER AND ROSE MACARON SANDWICHES
After one hell of a year, that started last year, in the Spring, with the pandemic, and all sorts of uncertainties surrounding us, in every possible realm of our lives, all I want to do is celebrate this Spring with color and vibrancy. All I want to do is forget the past year, and move forward to a brighter 2021. Come March, and with the onset of Spring, my mood changed. Seeing how California was slowly opening, due to the rapid rate of vaccinations and lesser number of COVID cases, with kids going back to school, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, a ray of hope that really made me feel a bit light – my heart was happier. Seeing flowers bloom everywhere, on my daily walks, brought a smile to my face. All I want to make is happy, colorful, pleasant things that will bring a smile to someone’s face.
Monica from The Chai Box, has a beautiful line of products, revolving around Masala Chai, the quintessential beverage that we grow up drinking in beloved India. The hot drink that wakes our senses up in the morning and that marks the start of our day. The drink, one that if I miss in the morning, my whole day goes cranky, and my husband has experienced it first hand! The Chai Box has wonderful chai flavors, that are curated chai blends, with freshly picked and dried tea leaves from the tea plantations in Kerela and spices that are from the local farms in Kerela as well. Each blend is carefully curated, and when you open a packet of the blend, you get the whiff and pleasant aroma of all the ingredients! I have been using this chai blend for my late afternoon chai sessions, and they are truly delicious.
When Monica came out with her latest Himalayan Valley blend, she sent me some of it and I immediately was inspired by the chai blend, and Spring weather to create this absolutely delicious Masala Chai Ice Cream with Lavender and Rose Macaron Sandwiches! The Chai blend has essentially 4 ingredients: black tea, cardamom, dried lavender, and dried rose petals! Inspired by the stunning valleys nestled between the Greater Himalayas and Shivalik Hills in Himachal this blend is beautiful and works wonderfully in these chai ice cream macaron sandwiches! My daily walks inspired me to go with bright pink and violet colors for the Macaron shells, which represent rose and lavender. The flavor of lavender with the hint of rose comes through so elegantly in the chai blend, and in the ice cream! I love this ice cream I created using the chai blend, and my kids are loving it too!
BEST USE OF EGG YOLKS AND EGG WHITES:
Macarons are made with only egg whites, and often a lot of egg yolks are wasted in the process. My recipe calls for 4 oz of egg whites = approx. 4 eggs or maybe a little less than 4. This means that 4 egg yolks get wasted, if you do not know what to do with them. What do I do? I save the egg yolks in an air tight container and freeze them. I do this every single time I make macarons. Because I really hate wastage of any kind. This way I use the egg yolks to make ice cream with a custard base, while the egg whites make up the macaron shells. For this particular recipe, I used the egg yolks to make the Masala Chai Ice Cream and it worked out perfectly for the Ice cream macaron sandwiches! No wastage, and it makes for a wonderful and delicious recipe!
HOW DID I MAKE THE MASALA CHAI ICE CREAM BASE?
I steeped the whole milk only, first with the chai blend, for a few minutes. Then I switched off the gas and let it steep covered for 20 minutes. I strain the mixture into a measuring bowl, and add some more milk to make upto 1 ½ cups of whole milk which is the original measurement in the ice cream base. To make the ice cream base, mix the chai whole milk + heavy cream + sugar into a saucepan and let it come to a simmer. Meanwhile beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar until you get ribbons, that are pale yellow in color. The ribbons will be silky smooth and at that point, you want to temper the egg yolk mixture with some of the warm milk, to ensure that the yolks do not curdle. Then we put the mixture into the warm milk mixture to make the custard. It needs to reach a certain temperature, to make sure that it is thick and custardy like.
The next step is to cool it over an ice bath, and when cool, put the vanilla extract, mix and chill the mixture for atleast 6 hours to get it ready for the ice cream machine. Once the ice cream is made in the machine, you want to chill it in a jelly pan, so that you can remove even blocks of ice cream for the macaron sandwiches.
HOW TO MAKE THE MACARON SHELLS?
The ingredients required for making macarons is very simple. There are few of them:
- Almond flour : Always use finely ground almond flour with the skin. Do NOT use almond meal. Because almond meal still has the skin on. This will not work. I use Blue Diamond brand of almond flour for my macarons. The quality if superior and fine as well, perfect for making macarons.
- Egg whites: Use room temperature egg whites always. You can even use a few day old egg whites. I have tried fresh as well as a few day old egg whites, and it both works. Just bring them to room temperature.
- Granulated Sugar: This is used for making the meringue first. I use the French method of making macarons, so a swiss meringue is required, where you beat the granulated sugar and egg whites till it forms stiff peaks.
- Cream of tartar: This helps in holding the structure of the meringue. Just a pinch is required.
- Confectioner’s sugar: This is mixed along with the almond flour at the beginning to form a fine texture, by blitzing in the food processor to ensure that there are no lumps in the mixture. It needs to be smooth.
- Vanilla extract: I add a bit for good taste in the macaron shells.
HOW TO MAKE 2 COLOR MACARON SHELLS?
- Once the almond-confectioner’s sugar mixture is folded into the meringue, I do not fold it all the way through, but just until I cannot see the dry bits of the flour mixture. Then I divide them equally into 2 bowls. Add desired colors to both bowls. Use separate spatulas and mix them individually just like you would normal macarons, in the macaronnage stage, where you fold the batter in one direction and press against the wall of the bowl to remove any air. Repeat in the same direction, until the batter forms a figure 8, when the batter is thrown from 2-3 inches high. The batter should settle in within 15 seconds. That is when you know your batter is ready to pipe.
- Put them into individual pastry bags, and pipe the separate colors, separately. Two colored shells look fun, pretty and festive, representing the colors of the macarons.
PRESSED DRIED EDIBLE FLOWERS FOR THE SHELLS:
I bought these dried edible flowers from Etsy a couple of years ago. I have been wanting to try them on Macarons for the longest time for Spring. I was thinking all this while how to decorate my pink and violet shells. I have been watching the Spring Baking Championship, and I was watching one of the episodes where one the contestants pasted pretty edible flowers on the top with glue after baking. They looked so pretty! and I remembered that I had these edible flowers! I was inspired. So I decided to make my ice cream macaron sandwiches with the pressed edible dried flowers. I baked the shells with the flowers and they retained its shape and looked so pretty on baking as you can see in the picture!
TIPS FOR MAKING FANTASTIC MACARONS:
I have been making macarons for many years now, and each time I learn something new. It is amazing how the learning process never ends. Some tips are as follows:
- Use silicone mats for the macarons. They turn out perfect every single time. I think it is a good investment, and you are not wasting ingredients to make them again, incase they do not turn out properly. I bought mine from Amazon. You get mats specific for macarons so a template is not required in that case.
- Follow the measurements and instructions to the T. Do not skimp, or skip any instructions. I cannot stress this enough!
- Meringue should form a peak, that slightly bends. That is when you know your meringue is done.
- Fold the flour into the meringue mixture in one direction. Fold and press against the wall, fold and press against the wall. It is some arm work but that is the key to ensuring the batter is the right consistency.
- Know your oven. Bake times may vary depending upon the oven, shell size etc. The shells in this recipe are 1 ½ inches wide in diameter and they took me 14 minutes in the oven.
- Do not be in a hurry to remove them off the mat. Let them cool completely, so that they come off nicely.
TIPS FOR PERFECT ICE CREAM MACARON SANDWICHES:
- Use a cookie cutter that can cut through the ice cream that is spread in a baking tray.
- Make sure you match the shells beforehand so that you are not scrambling to find the right fit.
- You have to work through the process fast, as the ice cream will melt.
- Offset spatula is your best friend! Make good use of it to lift the ice cream and place it on the macaron shell.
- Make sure you have a baking tray with parchment paper or silicone mat ready to place the assembled ice cream macaron sandwiches.
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