Saturday, August 9, 2014

French Chocolate Macarons

French Chocolate Macarons
Home Cooking

Macarons make me so sad. I've attempted them nearly 10 times and this one batch was the only one that worked. I haven't tried the same recipe again but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest this recipe is easier to pull off than others. I'm a huge fan of David Lebovitz and I found this recipe for chocolate macarons on his blog. The content was reassuring to someone like me who had many failed previous attempts.

The theory is that chocolate macarons are a good place to start for the uninitiated because the cocoa acts as a stabilizer. Much of what makes macarons so temperamental relates to the moisture content of the mixture. There is a real science to baking them and when you start researching macaron recipes, you'll come across advice that range from chemistry lab-like to voodoo witchcraft.

In David's blog post, he trials many of these suggestions and discovers that for his particular recipe at least, they are not necessary.

I followed the recipe exactly but I couldn't find my smooth piping tip so my macarons, especially the early ones, have a ripply exterior. Otherwise, they turned out fabulous and as my first successful macaron attempt, I was very, very proud.

French Chocolate Macarons
Makes approx 15 filled cookies

  • 1 cup pure icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 5 tbsp granulated sugar
For the chocolate filling
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 120g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line two baking trays with non-stick paper and have a piping bag with plain tip ready (note: I used a star tip because I couldn't find my plain one; don't follow my example)
2. In a food processor, grind together the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa until there are no lumps. I would recommend then sifting this powder to ensure it's really fine.
3. Using a stand mixer, beat the eggwhites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. Gradually add in the granulated sugar until the mixture is at stiff peaks (approx 2 minutes).
4. Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the eggwhites with a flexible spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the mixture into the pastry bag.
5. Pipe the batter onto the baking paper-lined trays into about 3cm circles, evenly spaced about 3cm apart.
6. Rap the baking trays on the counter firmly 2-3 times to flatten the macarons, then bake for 15-18 minutes.
7. Let them cool completely then remove from the baking sheets.
8. To make the chocolate filling, heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup.
9. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 1 minute then stir until smooth.
10. Stir in the chopped butter. Let it cool completely before using.
11. You can pipe the chocolate filling onto the macaron shells but in this case, I just spread it on with a knife.

These were my first batch of macarons to develop the iconic feet. I was thrilled! I didn't take too much attention to detail so as mentioned before, my shells are bumpy and due to the use of a star piping nozzle, they have little 'nipples'. However, they tasted amazing and that really is the bottom line.

I noticed that with macarons, they taste much better once you've filled them and then left them in the fridge for a day or so. The next day, the shells have softened a bit on the inside to give it a delicious chewiness whilst the outside remains crisp.

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