Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chocolate Parisian Macarons

After making ice cream last week, I had egg whites left over. Instead of using them in something easy that I'd done before (like meringues or pancakes), I decided to make macarons. I thought, "how hard can it be? it's just two meringues with some frosting in the middle, right?" I wasn't entirely wrong, though macarons are a beast all their own. My first clue that I was getting in to something complicated was when I realized my entire cookbook-bookcase did not have a single recipe for Parisian macarons. Then searching the internet yielded relatively few results, and several bloggers warning fellow foodies of the subtleties in the technique for making macarons. I decided to follow the advice of David Lebovitz. Here is his recipe (doubled):

Chocolate Macaron Batter
2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 cup Almond Flour
6 Tbsp Dutch Cocoa Powder
4 Large Egg Whites
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar

First take the egg whites out of the fridge so they can warm up to room temperature, and preheat the oven to 350F.

Almond meal or even almonds ground up in a food processor will work if you can't find almond flour. Sift the Powdered Sugar, Almond Flour, and Cocoa Powder into a bowl. 

I used Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour, which contained some bits that were impossible to work through the mesh strainer that I use as a sifter.

So I used a coffee grinder to grind up the bits that refused to go through the mesh, after which, they went through just fine.

Next I started whipping the egg whites in my trusty vintage Hobart-Kitchen-Aid mixer.

While the eggs whipped, I got a few things ready: a half-sheet-pan with a Silpat (parchment paper can be used if you don't have a Silpat), and piping bag.

When the eggs had reached the stage of soft peaks, I started to slowly add the granulated sugar.

Let the eggs and sugar beat together on high speed for a few minutes until stiff.

Then start to gently fold in the powdered-sugar/almond-flour mixture in two parts.

Now you're ready to start piping! Here are a few tricks to make your life easier:

1) Plug up the tip by stuffing some of the pastry bag into it. This way you wont have batter oozing out the end  as you're trying to fill it.

2) Make a "C" with your non-dominant hand and fold the pastry bag over your hand, so you can hold the bag as you fill it, and then you can use your "C"-hand as a ridged surface to scrape the spatula against -- keeping everything neat and tidy, inside the pastry bag!

When the bag is full, twist off the top so it's tight, then unplug the tip and start piping!

For macarons, I pipe perpendicular to the pan.

My piping skills are far from excellent...

I let these bake for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven, then I rotated them and let them bake for a few more minutes before taking them out to cool.

While my macaron cookies cooled, I worked on the filling:

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
2 tsp Honey
4 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

This isn't exactly the recipe I used, but rather the recipe I should have used. I doubled this recipe and ended up with way too much left-over ganache (mmmm left-over ganache!). Also, I used unsweetened chocolate, which meant I ended up throwing in a handful of sugar, some extra honey, and a splash of vanilla to make it edible. All of this, plus my lack of diligent stirring while I was trying to take sexy action photos for this blog post lead to a broken ganache - meaning the fat separated out resulting in a grainy chocolate lumps drenched in greasy fat. I was able to mostly rescue the ganache by taking out a a few tablespoons, re-melting it, stirring like crazy, then adding this back to the broken ganache and stirring like crazy again. Lesson learned - when making ganache, stir like crazy until you're absolutely certain it's stable!

Anyway, here's how to make ganache: Chop up the chocolate.

Bring the cream and honey to a boil, then turn off the heat and add the chocolate.

Let it sit for a few minutes, then stir the chocolate, milk and honey together.

Then add the butter. (you can begin to see the grainy/broken texture of my ganache here!)

STIIIIRRRR!!! Here's my ganache after I saved it from breaking:

Once the ganache is completely cooled, I spread it between two cookies to make a macaron!

These little guys aren't perfect, but they sure are deliciously chocolatey!

1 comment:

  1. everyone is on a kick with these, i want to put them in my face!