LADURÉE. Hell yes.

So, recently, there has been a new store opening in Stockholm that the whole city is buzzing about. If you hadn’t already guessed, Ladurée has come to town! Hell yes! I’ve been meaning to stop by since it opened about a week ago but I haven’t gotten around to it. Today though, I stepped into pastel paradise. I was so overwhelmed by the atmosphere that I forgot to take pictures, not only inside the store, but I also forgot to actually photograph the macarons I purchased. I mean, really Carolina, really…? Anyhow, I went all out and bought myself five macarons that I brought home in my little Ladurée bag. Like a proud mama. Kind of. I got chocolate, cherry blossom, cassis, salted caramel and lemon. My favourite was definitely the cassis, absolutely remarkable! If I go there again (if..? more like when), I’ll take some nice pictures for you blog readers and the interwebs! Anyhow, I know I’m super slow, I have three blog posts that will go up this week. Sorry about the horrible delay, I’ve just been so busy and with pollen season slamming me in the face, I’ve been pretty much just studying and sleeping these past few weeks…

Happy baking!

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Macarons and vows! (chocolate/hazelnut & lemon macarons)

So, this past weekend my father got married! Again… Hehe. No, but jokes aside, it was a really nice day, there was a short ceremony in city hall and then we had brunch at the Radisson Blu Strand Hotel. I had made macarons for the occasion which our fifteen person party gobbled down in the suite my dad had booked in the hotel. There was a lot of champagne drinkin’ too, and before you comment, yes, I am old enough to drink. The legal drinking age in Sweden is 18, thank you very much.

I made two kinds, lemon macarons with a lemon filling and chocolate macarons with a chocolate & hazelnut filling. No need for further explanations, let’s get to the recipe.

I used my standard Pierre Hermé macaron shell recipe but I altered it slightly to make them lemon/chocolate flavoured. This batch is also about one and a half of the original (which you can find here). So, this recipe makes about 22 of each kind. I made the meringue in one batch and then divided it between two almond mixtures.

NOTE: If you would like the recipe of how to make 30 shells (as from the original recipe) but in one of the flavours, write a comment with contact info and I’ll e-mail it to you. It takes up too much space to write everything down in one post. Also, if this is your first try at making macarons I suggest you go this this recipe, my instructions are much more detailed in that one as that was my first try.

Macaron Shells:

Italian meringue:

225g granulated sugar

57g water

82,5g aged egg whites

Mix for chocolate macarons shells:

112,5g ground almonds/almond meal

97,5g icing sugar

15g pure cocoa powder

41g aged egg whites

Mix for lemon macaron shells:

112,5g ground almonds/almond meal

112,5g icing sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

41g aged egg whites

HOW TO:

Start by sifting and combining the dry ingredients for the mixes into two separate bowls. Then add the egg whites on top of each mix but do not stir. Once you fold in the meringue, the egg whites will combine with the rest, don’t worry about that.

Make the meringue by bringing the water and sugar to a boil in a pot. While that is bubbling, whisk the egg whites until foamy. When the sugar has reached approximately 110 degrees CELSIUS (230 F), pour them into the egg white foam. Do this while the mixer is on and drizzle the sugar syrup on the side of the bowl so that it goes via the wall of bowl into the egg whites and not straight into them. Keep whisking the meringue until it has reached body temperature.

Weigh the meringue and divide into two portions, add the two portions to the two mixes (one portion goes into one of the mixes but I assume you understood that part).

Fold the meringue into the almond mix until it’s “pipeable”. Sure, that’s a word…

Pipe onto baking sheets and the rap against the counter 2-3 times to pop any air bubbles that might have formed. Let the piped shells sit in room temperature for 30 minutes before baking in the oven for 12 minutes at 180 degrees CELSIUS (355F). During the last 4 minutes of baking, open the oven door at least two times to let out any steam.

Chocolate hazelnut filling:

150 grams milk chocolate with chopped hazelnuts (I used a Swedish brand called Marabou)

130g heavy cream

25g butter

pinch of salt

Chop the chocolate, bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Stir until glossy, add the butter and salt. Keep stirring until the butter is melted, if the mix is too cool and the butter wont melt, heat it back up gently and then stir until cooled and smooth. Set in the fridge to cool.

Lemon filling:

100g good quality white chocolate

25g heavy cream

55g lemon curd

juice of half a lemon

zest of one lemon

IF NECESSARY: corn starch

Chop the chocolate. Bring the cream and lemon curd to a boil, pour over the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Add the lemon juice and zest. Set in fridge to cool. If it’s too loose, add some corn starch, little by little and refrigerate in between until your desired consistency is reached.

Assemble the macarons and let sit for about 24 hours in the fridge to set. EAT!

Lessons I learned this time around:

  • Don’t put too much water under the baking sheet. It will mess up your shells!
  • Get a frickin’ piping bag you idiot novice! Plastic bags are annoying as hell and the end result will never be symmetrical.
  • Don’t dust your shells with cocoa before you bang them against the counter, you will end up with cocoa all over and the shells will look like you licked them before assembly or something.
  • The egg whites will diminish in volume as you age them, weigh up the amount you need and age them and you’ll be fine. You might end up with less than what is called for in the recipe but as long as you started out with the right amount you should be fine, you’ll just have to be a little clever with the kitchen scale, that’s all. The total amount of egg whites you should age for this recipe is 165 grams.

Happy baking!

Apparently I can make macarons. Who knew? (chocolate & raspberry macarons)

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.

Italian Meringue:

150g granulated sugar

38g water

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!

Happy baking!