Sunday, 19 January 2014

Magpie Make & Do ~ Macarons au Chocolat

Macaroons are a real favourite of mine. I love to eat them (that initial crack of the shell that gives way to the most gratifying of delicately chewy textures...); in fact I'm happy just to look at and admire them in all their pastel perfection! Locally, the best can be found at Maison Blanc. The time was finally ripe for me to try making my own, when one of my best friends kindly bought us this beautiful recipe cook for our anniversary (the pages are edged in gold leaf!):

There are top pastry chefs who shy away from macaroons. They are notoriously tricky to get right, but I was determined to give them a go, and surely with Ladurée on my side I had as good a chance as any? You will see from the pictures below that I didn't get them quite right this time, but I can promise you that, in spite of their rustic appearance, they were delicious. As you can see, I plumped for the chocolate variety this time. Next time I'm planning some pretty pastel shades for Spring. With thanks to F, for her beautiful gift, and the house of Ladurée for the recipe; I hope to do it justice next time!


For the ganache
10 oz | 290 g chocolate (minimum 70% cacao solids) 
1 cup + 2 tbsp | 270 ml heavy (double) cream 
4 tbsp | 60 g butter 

For the shells 
2 ¾ cups | 260 g ground almonds (almond flour) 
2 cups + 1 tbsp | 250 g confectioners' (icing) sugar 
2 ¾ tbsp (15 g) unsweetened cocoa powder 
2 oz | 65 g chocolate (minimum 70% cacao solids) 
6 egg whites + ½ egg white 
1 cup + 1 tbsp | 210 g granulated sugar 


Chocolate ganache 
1. Prepare the ganache. Using a knife, finely chop the chocolate on a cutting board and place in a large bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream in 3 parts over the chopped chocolate, mixing with a wooden spatula between each addition to homogenize the preparation. Cut the butter into small pieces and stir into the ganache until very smooth. Transfer to a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap, so that the plastic is in contact with the ganache. Allow the ganache to cool at room temperature and then refrigerate for 1 hour until it has a thick, creamy consistency. 

Macaron shells
2. Combine the ground almonds, confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor and pulse to obtain a fine powder. Sift or strain through a sieve to remove any lumps. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water or in the microwave oven until it is lukewarm (approx. 95˚F | 35˚C). 

3. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the 6 egg whites to a foam. Once they are frothy, add a third of the granulated sugar and whip until sugar is dissolved; add another third of the granulated sugar, whip for another minute; finally add the remaining granulated sugar and whip for 1 more minute. Pour the melted chocolate over the whipped egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, roughly incorporate the chocolate, and then immediately and delicately fold the sifted mixture of ground almonds, confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder into the chocolate and egg white mixture. In a separate small bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 egg white until just frothy. Then add to the final mixture, folding gently to slightly loosen the batter. 

These eggs are my all time favourite, for eating and baking. Plus they are the most beautiful shade of blue!
4. Transfer mixture to the piping bag fitted with a plain tip. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe small macaron rounds 1 1/4- 1 1/2 inches | 3-4 cm in diameter. Lightly tap the sheet so the macarons spread fully. Preheat the oven to 300˚F | 150˚C | gas mark 2. Allow the macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes and then place in the oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until they form a slight crust 

5. Remove baking sheet from the oven, and with a small glass, carefully pour a tiny amount of water in between the sheet and the parchment paper (lift the paper ever so slightly corner by corner). The moisture and steam that result from the water on the hot baking sheet will allow the macarons to peel off more easily once they are cool. Do not pour too much water as this could cause the macarons to become soggy. Allow to cool completely. Remove half of the macaron shells and place them upside down on a plate. 

As you can see, my macaroons have no feet and are cracked - fail. Also, my photo is embarrassingly out of focus.
6. When the ganache has a creamy consistency, pour into a clean piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe a coin of ganache onto the macaron shells resting upside down. Top each with the remaining macaron shells. Keep macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 12 hours before tasting. 

Chef's tips 
It is possible that your macaron shells will slightly crack on top for many different reasons. This could be the result of the ingredients, the oven or how the preparation was mixed. Whatever the reason, do not be discouraged!

Rest assured: cracked or not, your macarons will be just as delicious. With experience, you will succeed and have beautiful, smooth macarons. It is strongly recommended that you allow the finished macarons to rest one night in the refrigerator. During this time, a reaction takes place among the ingredients, further enhancing and refining the flavour and texture.

If you are a macaroon expert and have any tips for me, I would love to hear from you!

pp x

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