Filipino-inspired flavors: Ube macarons

Coming back from a recent trip to my homeland in Southeast Asia, I brought with me a lot of ideas/inspirations for baking macarons. This is the first of a series I’m planning on trying out in the next couple of posts.*

Halayang ube is one of the Filipino sweets I liked so much while I was growing up in Manila. It is a kind of pudding made from boiled purple yams mixed with either condensed milk or coconut milk, or both. When I saw that Wonder Bake sells ube powder, I saw the potential for a macaron flavor inspired by this much-loved traditional Filipino sweet so I bought several sachets (I would’ve bought more, but the expiry date is this September so I’ll just have to replenish stock next year when we visit again). In the recipe below, I used the powder to flavor both the macaron shells and the filling. I opted for a white chocolate-based ganache, but buttercream could also work (use French buttercream if you want to use the excess egg yolks). I have reservations with regards to using actual halayang ube as this could either be too solid or too runny: the former would result in crunchy macarons, while the latter would result in soggy ones.


* In case you’re wondering: I had to wait until I’m back here in Norway to put them to the test for two reasons:

  1. Humidity. Macarons hate moisture. The relative high humidity in the Philippines could be disastrous in making macarons. I tried last year—the macaron batter didn’t dry out during croûtage, even after three hours of resting. And,
  2. No access to a working oven. The oven in my Mom’s gas range got damaged during typhoon Haiyan. The 20-year-old combination microwave-convection oven they were using as substitute conked out, too—I found out just when I was going to set it to pre-heat mode that the touch-screen control panel doesn’t work anymore (probably because of the humidity?).

Ube macarons

Ube macarons

Ube macaron shells

Makes about 56 shells (28 filled macarons)

100 g finely ground almonds (almond meal/flour)

100 g confectioner’s sugar

7 g ube powder

1-2 drops ube essence (i.e. McCormick; optional)

37 g egg whites (from approximately 1 egg)

100 g granulated sugar

37 g egg whites (from approximately 1 egg)

25 g water

  • Line baking trays with baking paper, silicone macaron mats or silpat (I used silpats).
  • Tant pour tant: Grind the ground almonds, confectioner’s sugar, and  ube powder in the food processor. Sift the mix into large bowl. Place the pieces that won’t go through the sieve back in the food processor and process until everything goes through the sieve. Make a well in the center of the tant pour tant.
  • Mix the ube essence into the egg whites.
  • Pour the egg white mixture in the middle of the tant pour tant but do not mix. Set aside.
  • Italian meringue: Place the water and sugar in an appropriately sized saucepan. Place a digital kitchen thermometer (I used a digital meat thermometer with an alarm function) in the center of the pan with the sugar mixture, and heat over medium heat until the sugar syrup boils and reaches a temperature of 118°C. DO NOT STIR, but you can swirl gently.
  • Place the second batch of egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the sugar syrup temperature reaches past 112°C, begin whipping the egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form.*
  • As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 118°C, remove from heat and pour in a thin stream into the egg whites while continuing to beat at high speed. Beat one more minute, then lower the speed to medium and beat for about 2 more minutes. Cool to 50°C (or lower) before adding into the tant pour tant.
* If your egg whites are starting to achieve soft peaks before your sugar syrup is ready, don’t panic. Just lower your mixer speed from «high» to «medium» and you’ll be fine 😉
  • Macaronage: Add the meringue to the tant pour tant. Using a spatula, fold the meringue into the tant pour tant then from the center, move the spatula towards the side, pressing the batter against the side of the bowl, while rotating the bowl. Next, scrape the batter from the sides and bring it towards the center. Repeat this fold, press and scrape action while rotating the bowl until the batter becomes shiny and homogenous in color.
  • Once the batter is shiny and homogenous, check for the consistency. Using the spatula, lift a small amount of batter and let it drop from the spatula. If the batter drops in clumps, fold a couple more times then check again. The batter is ready for piping when it drops from the spatula in ribbons that smooth themselves back into the rest of the batter within 15-20 seconds. Alternatively, check how the batter flows: tip the bowl slightly to one side and watch how the batter moves. If the batter moves like slowly flowing lava, it is ready.
  • Spoon or pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with an 11-12 mm diameter round nozzle (Wilton 1A or 2A), taking care not to add air bubbles into the batter as you are doing so.
  • Pipe out 35 mm circles, each about 20 mm apart, onto the prepared baking sheets.** Rap the sheets on the counter top to smoothen the tops of the macarons (in case there are stubborn peaks that formed while piping) and to dislodge/remove excess air from the batter.
** I used a template I found on the internet under the silpats, but you can make your own.
Ube macarons, croûtage
  • Croûtage: Let the macarons rest for 15-30 minutes,¨ or until they have formed a thin crust, their surfaces are dull in color and are no longer sticky when touched.
¨ This might take longer, depending on the humidity in your area. 
  • Preheat the oven to 150°C-160°C (this depends on your oven; mine is hotter than what it says on the dial, so I use 150°C).
  • Once the oven is done preheating and the macarons are dry and ready, place one of the baking sheets on the lower third of the oven—you can only bake one sheet at time. Bake for 10-12 minutes (again, this depends on your oven; in my case, I check for doneness after 10 minutes), briefly opening the oven at least once after 8 minutes to let out steam/moisture. The macarons are ready when the tops are firm to the touch and the tops do not move too much from side to side.
  • Remove from the oven and slide the baking paper/silicone/silpat with the macarons still on it from the baking sheet onto a wire rack. Let the macarons cool on the baking paper/silicone/silpat. Once cooled, they can be removed easily from the baking surface (peel the baking surface from the macarons, and not vice-versa); any macaron with the bottom still stubbornly sticking to the baking surface is undercooked—pop them back into the oven and bake a couple more minutes.
Ube macarons, cooling down Sorry for the yellowish tinge—took this photo with my iPhone at night, under flourescent lighting 😅
  • Pair the finished macarons and allow to rest on wire racks with half of them lying foot side up. Cool completely before piping the filling.

Ube ganache

100 g white chocolate

100 ml pouring cream (or whipping cream)

15 g ube powder

1-2 drops ube essence (optional)

15 g butter, diced

  • Chop or  grate the chocolate into small pieces so they melt evenly.
  • Place the cream in an appropriately sized saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to simmer, add the ube powder and essence.
  • When the ube-cream mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir using a whisk until mixture becomes homogenous.
  • Cool the ganache slightly. When the temperature has cooled down to 40°C, stir in the diced butter. Continue stirring until the ganache becomes smooth.
  • Pour the ganache into a shallow dish (i.e. a gratin dish), cool, then cover with plastic wrap (the wrap should touch the surface). Refrigerate at least one hour to set.
  • Spoon into a piping bag fitted with 8-10 mm diameter round nozzle (Wilton 12).
Ube ganache
  • Pipe the ganache onto half of the macarons (those with the foot side facing upwards), leaving about 3 mm from the edges ganache-free.
  • Top the ganache with the remaing macarons.
  • Leave the macarons to «mature» with the fillings for 24 hours, or at least overnight.

Ube macarons

8 thoughts on “Filipino-inspired flavors: Ube macarons”

  1. I was not successful with this recipe the first time, but tried it again the second time and was successful. I always like to do a bit of research before I try baking something I’ve never baked before. Since mixing the macaron mixture is very particular, the research is definitely worth the time. This recipe definitely covers most, if not all, of what you need to know. If you’re adding food coloring, I added mine after the sugar mixture that are added to the egg whites. I baked my macarons at 300F for about 20mins. Rotating halfway. Oven temps can vary but I noticed for my oven i had to bake a bit longer. I also used gel food coloring. Thank you so much for posting this recipe and for clarifying what was missed. Your recipe is definitely a keeper!

    1. Hi, Edith!
      Try looking for ube liquid extract/essence (McCormick Ube flavor) and use that instead. Taro, as it turns out, is not the same as ube; ube is purple yam in English (scientific name: Dioscorea alata), and taro is actually «gabi» in Tagalog (scientific name: Colocasia esculenta). Sorry for the confusion—I haven’t gotten around to editing the entry on ube macarons due to other commitments here.

  2. There seems to be something I’m missing somewhere. Did this three times as I am obsessed with ube and macarons, but I failed in each try.

    1. Hi! I’m sorry to hear you’re experiencing some setbacks… That’s always the thing with macarons—they’re very tricky to make. I’ve been making them for more than 10 years now, and still there are times they don’t turn out as planned. Don’t give up though. In the meantime, here are some of the possible reasons your macarons aren’t turning out the way you expect:

      (1) humidity and/or moisture
      Like I said in the post, macarons hate moisture, so take care that you are not introducing excess moisture into the batter:
      • Check that your almond flour isn’t too wet or moist. You can do this by rubbing the flour between your fingers, if they clump together your flour is too wet and you would need to dry it. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and leave in the oven at the lowest possible temperature (around 50°C in my oven, might be different in yours) for about 30 min. Leave to cool. The flour shouldn’t clump together anymore if it has been sufficiently dried.
      • Do not use liquid food colouring. Use only either powdered food colouring, or the gel type food colours. If you’re using gel food colours, use only a few drops (I used 1-2 drops in my recipes).
      • Avoid using liquid flavourings, but if you must, use concentrated extracts (e.g. LorAnn oils) and use only a few drops (I use 2-3 drops, measured with a pipette). In my ube macaron recipe, I used both powdered ube and McCormick ube essence, but the latter is really optional. In fact, I used 50% more ube powder than I would have normally done because I had to compensate for the 1-2 drops of ube essence that I used.
      • The overall humidity in the kitchen is also an important factor. Personally, I don’t attempt making macarons when our hygrometer is above the 50% humidity mark.

      (2) granulated sugar and confectioner’s/powdered sugar
      Use the granulated sugar only in the sugar syrup for making the Italian meringue. Use only powdered sugar in the almond mix/tant pour tant.

      (3) technique
      Fold the meringue into the tant pour tant with a spatula, DO NOT mix like you would in the case of cake batters. When the batter becomes homogenous (no white streaks), you can start to deflate it a little by moving the spatula from the centre of the bowl to the sides, pressing the batter against the bottom and sides of the bowl. Do this a couple of times, then check for consistency: the batter should either drop from the spatula in ribbons that smooth themselves back into the batter within 15-20 seconds, or it should flow slowly like lava when the bowl is tipped to the side.
      • NOTE: do not over-mix. It is actually better to under-mix (not too much though) a macaron batter than to over-mix it—an under-mixed macaron batter only results in macarons with “nipples” but an over-mixed batter will result in, among others, flat (disc-like) macarons that are either wrinkly or cracked on top or both.

      I hope these help, and good luck!

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