Macarons. One of those
desserts? cookies? UFOs? things that makes me scared to death (OK, not really, more like anxious) when I think about trying to make them. They’re so easily screwed up and so so so so so hard to make perfect. My first time was far from perfection but not really that off the beaten track. They turned out really great, not as smooth or symmetrical as I might have wished, but as a first attempt EVER (do I need to mention how proud I am of myself right now?), the end result was pretty darn good. No cracks, no hollowed out shells, just pure joy.
I chose a recipe by Pierre Hermé, I thought that would be the safest way possible to go. I kept the original recipe for the shells but changed up the filling a little. The original is for his Mogador macarons, only I substituted the passion fruit juice with raspberry purée. I also forgot the get powdered food colouring, I only had the liquid stuff and I was too afraid that would mess up the end result so the shells stayed plain.
I aged the egg whites for about 24 hours but when I made the Italian meringue it turned to soup, somewhere along the way there must have been some oil residue on one of my tools. So I had to start over with whites straight from the fridge, they still turned out fine though, but keep in mind, half the egg whites used were aged so I wouldn’t recommend skipping the process if you want to be on the safe side.
By leaving the egg whites out in room temperature for about 24-48 hours you end up with so called “aged” whites. So this calls for preparation.
I’d suggest you start making these at least two days before you plan on serving them. (That means: put out the eggs to age two days in advance, bake them one day before and let sit for 24 hours after assembly before serving).
This recipe made 30 finished macarons (60 shells)
Chocolate and raspberry macarons
150g ground almonds (I used store bought almond meal, same thing, less hassle)
150g icing sugar
55g aged egg whites (first portion, total amount used in the recipe is double = 110g)
optional: some pink or red POWDERED food colouring would definitely make these even prettier. Just add as much you think makes a nice shade of pink/red.
150g granulated sugar
55g aged egg whites
Finish: cocoa powder
Sift together the ground almonds and the icing sugar in a large bowl. Add the food colouring to the first portion of egg whites, stir gently. Add the whites to the almond/sugar mix but do not stir. Set aside.
To make the Italian meringue: Whip the second portion of egg whites in a standing mixer (this is my preference but it’s not a must, it does make things easier though), until white and fluffy. While the egg whites are being beaten, bring water and sugar to a boil (approx 110C/230). When the sugar syrup is ready (110C), pour into egg whites, while they’re beating, in a thin drizzle, if you pour it in too quickly, crystals might form. Keep beating the meringue until it reaches body temperature (test it with your finger, just make sure your hands are clean and dry first).
Now it’s time to incorporate the two components. Fold the meringue into the almond mixture with a rubber spatula. Make sure the two are well blended, any streaks of unincorporated meringue might cause cracks in your finished product.
Place parchment paper (or a silicone sheet is you prefer) onto a baking tray. Splash a couple of drops of water on before placing the paper in it, that will make sure it doesn’t move while you pipe. Spoon the batter into a piping bad. Using a plain round nozzle, pipe the batter into rounds of about 3.5cm, placing them about 2cm apart. Using a sieve, dust with cocoa powder. Rap against the kitchen counter (don’t tilt the pan or you’ll end up with your precious work all over the floor and probably alcohol poisoning from trying to drink your pain away) a couple of times to make sure any air bubbles in the macarons are popped. Let sit for about 30 minutes, before placing in the oven, to allow a skin to form. If you don’t let them harden, you wont end up with the “feet”.
Bake at 180C/355F for 12 minutes (a fan oven is preferable). During the last 4 minutes of the cooking time, open the oven door two times to allow any steam to escape. When they’re done, slide the whole sheet onto a cooling rack and let them be until completely cooled.
Chocolate raspberry ganache filling:
50g unsalted butter (room temp.)
275g milk chocolate
200g raspberries (125g raspberry purée)
a pinch of salt
If you’re using frozen berries, make sure they’re completely defrosted before you begin. Put the berries into a blender, or blend using a hand mixer, until smooth. Push the raspberry purée through a sieve in order to get rid of all the seeds. Put in a small pot and bring to a boil. Chop the chocolate into smaller pieces and melt oven a bain marie, when melted, add the warm purée, little by little. Add the butter in pieces and the salt. Stir until glossy and smooth. If needed, sieve again. Pour the ganache into a gratin dish and set in the fridge too cool and thicken.
Assembly: Match all the macarons together, making sure they’re divided into 30 sets of two shells that are similar in size and shape. Pipe a generous dot onto half of a macaron “set” and press the other half on top, distributing the filling between the two shells. Store in the fridge for at least 24 hours and take them out about 2 hours before serving them.
NOTE: When sifting the ground almonds, I ended up with some that were too coarse to go through the sieve. At that point, you can go two ways. If you used store bought almond meal, as I did, you can weigh the coarse “grains” and put those away, then way a NEW amount of almond meal, sift that and repeat until you have the demanded 150 grams.
OR, if you’re grounding your own almonds, just ground the coarser “grains” until they’re fine enough to pass through the sieve (you can do this together with some of the icing sugar to make sure it stays on the dry side). JUST BE CAREFUL, IF YOU BLEND THEM FOR TOO LONG, THEY’LL TURN INTO ALMOND BUTTER!