It’s National Beer Day! While we are currently unable to enjoy a cold one at a bar with our loved ones, we can safely enjoy one at the comfort of our own homes. The silver lining being that we are all responsibly drinking and not driving. If you’ve never heard of makgeolli before, it’s rice beer! It tastes slightly sweet, tart and creamy. It also has a lightly carbonated body that makes it a refreshing drink for any time of day.
I first time I had this refreshing brew was on a trip to South Korea in 2014, on a sweltering summer day. I met up with an old friend at an outdoor food stall at Dongdaemun market and ate sizzling savory Korean pancakes, which we washed down with a swig of chilled makgeolli was perfection. Even back then, I remember associating makgeolli as something that my grandparents drank but within the past year or so, it’s come back as the new and hip craft brew. Makku definitely fits in that category with the modern packaging and it’s fun and fruity flavors (*whispers* I’m partial to the mango). A dear friend of my sister-in-law, Carol Pak, owns it and she reached out to me to make some macarons inspired by Makku flavors for her employees for Christmas, when times were cheerful. I really admire Carol for her work ethic and bravery in bringing her vision to life. With many small businesses, her company took a hard hit with Covid-19. It was heartwarming to see supportive and kind responses on her IG post about her hardship. In general, it’s been a small light of hope to see people pitching in and showing good will whether it be in healthcare, business or hospitality. Recently, Makku announced that they now ship nationwide, so if you have the means to, try something new and give it a go!
Making makgeolli macarons took a few tries of trial and error. Unlike traditional beer or wine, it has a very subtle flavor that is hard to capture. I tried boiling it down to a syrup consistency, which is my tried and true technique for flavoring frosting, but it failed miserably. The resulting syrup was extremely sour and off-putting. The trick is to replace half of the milk with makgeolli. The resulting macaron is unique, subtle in flavor but definitely makgeolli flavored. It hits you especially at the end.
Makgeolli Macarons (Feat. Makku)
For the Macaron Shells:
212 g. almond meal (aka almond flour)
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
- Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear. Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
- In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
- Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
- Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
- Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
- Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty. From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”. The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
- With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
- The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
- Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325-350˚F. If your oven tends to run hot go for 325˚F, if not then 350˚F.
- Lower the heat to from 350˚F to 300˚F. (If starting from 325˚F, lower to 275˚F.)
- Bake 10-12 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth. The macaron shell is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
- Remove pan from oven and reheat oven to higher temperature for 10 minutes before baking the next tray, lowering the temperature when you start baking it.
- Continue until you bake all of the macaron shells.
For the Makgeolli Frosting:
½ c. whole milk
½ c. makgeolli
3 tbsp. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
3-5 tbsp. makgeolli, as needed
- In a small saucier over medium heat, whisk milk, ½ c. makgeolli, salt and flour until combined.
- Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
- Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
- In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
- Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add 3 tablespoons of makgeolli and whip. If the frosting can use more flavor, add more tablespoons without compromising the texture of the buttercream. If you add too much liquid, the buttercream will break down and separate. Err on the conservative side.
- Pipe finished frosting onto cooled macaron shells and enjoy.