Dessert Food

Chocolate macarons

7 February 2015

My first macaron was bought here in Melbourne at a recommended cafe. It was okay, but it reminded me a lot of the plain meringues my mum used to buy me when I was little. Egg white, sugar and sprinkles.

My second macaron also was not life-changing.

My third macaron, however, was a game changer. It was purchased from a nice lady at the old North Melbourne Market at the Lithuanian Club. It was an Earl Grey Macaron. It was absolutely delicious, and changed my perspective on macarons forever. (And I don’t even really like Earl Grey tea either).

When my mother-in-law (suegra) visited a year ago, she was enthralled with Melbourne’s macaron-madness. Having just come from Costa Rica, a country whose macaron craze was only just beginning and still a rather expensive delicacy, she was on a mission to try a macaron for the first time. On one of her shopping trips she bought a packet of Adriano Zumbo’s Passionfruit Macarons kit. We made them and they were pretty damned good.

Later, after many months of using one egg yolk in a recipe here and there, I had enough frozen egg whites to make my own macarons from scratch. I came across a recipe that didn’t look too painful (i.e. no “68g aged egg whites” or “candy thermometer required” recipes).

Overall, visually I think my first macarons-from-scratch attempt was pretty good. There were feet, which is always a sign of success (regardless of how puffy the feet were…)

As for the apparent painfulness of baking macarons, I kindly disagree. They were no more difficult than baking anything, and probably less so than any grand cake. The only painful part would be finding a use for the unused egg yolks.

Taste-wise, absolutely delicious. I was shocked that I made these. They tasted very, very good. This is an excellent recipe for a first-time macaron-maker.

These macarons are not the last I’ve eaten. That award goes to Ladurée, which I got to try in Florence which was also very yummy. I am  now a macaron-convert and have joined the bandwagon.

Chocolate Macarons

Adapted from Chow

Makes about 30

Ingredients

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar

Ganache filling:

  • 120g milk or dark chocolate, finely chopped (4oz)
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 30g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed (1oz)

Method

1. Print my macaron template so you have even-sized macaron shells. Place the template under baking paper and trace with a marker. Flip the baking paper upside down (so you’re not putting macaron dough onto ink) and onto as many baking trays as you need. Set the baking trays aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a plain circular tip (about 1.3cm or 1/2in).

2. Place icing sugar, almond meal, cocoa and salt in food processor and pulse several times to aerate. Process until fine, for about 30 seconds. Sift into another bowl and set aside.

3. Place egg whites in a clean bowl. Use electric beaters or stand mixer with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until foamy.

4. Add cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium high and beat until white, for about 1 minute.

5. Slowly add the caster sugar while beating until combined and the peaks are stiff, about 1 minute. Do not overmix. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the meringue mixture in 4 batches until just combined. The meringue should flatten. Stop folding when you can no longer see the egg whites (it should look like cake batter.)

7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pastry bag. Pipe circles onto the prepared baking paper circle templates.

8. Bang the baking trays against the countertop to flatten. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

9. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake the macarons on the middle rack, one tray at a time. Rotate trays after 7 minutes and bake for a total of 14 minutes per tray. Transfer each baking sheet to a rack to cool completely.

10. Ganache filling: Place the chocolate in a large heatproof  bowl. Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Stir the warmed cream into the chocolate until combined. Let sit for 1 minute. Add butter and stir until smooth. Chill in the fridge until thickened but spreadable, about 30 minutes.

11. To assemble, pair macaron shells of a similar size. You can either pipe the ganache for a finished look, or spoon it on, about the amount of a size of a cherry. Sandwich the macaron pair together around the ganache filling. Make sure the filling sits within the edges of each biscuit.

12. Refrigerate, covered, for 24 hours before serving.

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