Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Chocolate Macarons - A French Delight

I have tried to make macarons before, and they were reasonable good.  Today I decided to try to make some more, this time Chocolate Macarons.

There seem to be two ways to prepare macarons, one involves whipping egg whites to stiff peaks and then to work them into the dry ingredients, which are ground almonds and icing sugar, and in my case some cocoa powder.  The second method is to use the Italian meringue method using a hot syrup when whisking the egg whites.  It is the second method that I decided to give a try.  This seemed to work very well, giving a nice texture to the batter when combined.  When baked they worked well too, giving a small foot during cooking to make, what I consider, to be a perfect macaron.

Making macarons is not the easiest thing to do, but if you get it right it is most certainly very rewarding.  The important thing is to use exact measurements, this means to weigh everything accurately and not to rely on cup measurements which can be rather inexact.

For mine I wanted to colour the meringue but not to much, so that they contrasted nicely with a chocolate ganache filling.  So I used some cocoa powder instead of some of the icing sugar.  This gave a nice colour to the meringues and just a hint of flavour too. 

When the meringues are made they taste good, but for the fullest flavour they should be refrigerated for 24 hours.  This allows the texture to change, so that the crispy outside softens slightly and the flavour that is the filling can be asorbed somewhat into the macarons.  

They keep very well in the fridge for up to a week and they can be frozen too, for about a month.  So it isn't necessary to eat them all at one time, but can be savoured just a few at a time over a few weeks.
Chocolate Macarons


Chocolate Macarons - Video
Ingredients:
For the meringue:
  • 212g ground almonds
  • 184g icing sugar
  • 28g cocoa powder
  • 82g egg whites
  • a further 90g egg whites
  • 236g granulated, or caster,  sugar
  • 158g water
For the choclate ganache:
  • 115g dark chocolate chips
  • 120g double cream
  • 25g softened butter, cubed
Method:
  1. In a food processor place the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder and blitz for about 30 seconds to mix together and to chop the ground almonds even finer.
  2. Sieve the mixture into a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and pour in 82 grams of egg whites.
  4. Mix together until fully combined and then set aside.
  5. Place the water and caster sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  6. Use a thermometer to test the temperature of the sugar until it reaches 107-110C(about 225 F).
  7. At that point continue heating the syrup whilst whisking the 90g of egg whites to soft peaks.
  8. When the syrup as reached 115C (about 240F) remove from the heat.
  9. The egg whites should have reached soft peaks so gently start pouring the syrup into the mixture, close to the side of the bowl so that it does hit the whisk.
  10. Continue whisking on high until you have achieved stiff peaks.
  11. Once you have the egg whites at stiff peaks you need to combined them into the almond mixture to combine.  To do with fold them in, fairly gently, and keep going until you have reached a thick ribbon consistency.  When some batter falls off the spatula in should slowly combine back into the mixture, leaving no peaks.
  12. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F.
  13. Line two baking trays(you will need to do this twice as their will be two batches), with parchment paper.
  14. Place the batter into a piping bag with a 1/2 in nozzle fitted.
  15. Pipe the mixture in 1 1/2 blobs(about an inch or so apart), holding the nozzle upright.  A little peak will appear as you lift the bag, this should disappear by sinking back into the batter.
  16. When you have piped all the batter for two baking sheets lift the baking sheets and drop them back onto the counter, a couple of times, to allow any air to escape from the batter.
  17. Leave the baking sheets to settle for about 20 to 30 minutes, by which time the tops should have formed a skin, so that they are not tacky to the touch.
  18. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.  The macarons should have risen slightly forming a shallow foot on the bottom.  Gently push one macaron and if it is wobbly leave them for a further minute of two.  It they are not wobbly remove them from the oven.
  19. Remove the baking parchment from the baking sheet and allow the macarons to cool before gently lifting them onto a wire rack.
  20. Repeat the process for the remaining batter.
  21. As the macaron shells are cooking completely heat the double cream unti almost boiling.
  22. Place the chocolate chips into bowl and pour the heated cream over them.
  23. After a minute stir the mixture until the chocolate has melted into the cream.
  24. Add the butter and stir until it too has melted.
  25. Leave to cool and then place into a piping bag.
  26. Pair the macaron shells into evenly sized pairs, turning one of each pair upside down.
  27. Pipe some chocolate ganache onto each upturned shell and cover with its pair.
  28. Refrigerate for 24 hours to obtain the best texture and flavour.


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