Oh wow! Macarons! For the life of me, I did not expect this. To be frank I'm really not that much into macarons (I think they are a bit too sweet) which is probably why you only see them making a rare appearance in this blog. I remembered the very first time I made macarons. Of course prior to actually venturing into it, I did a whole lot of research and finally picked a recipe posted by none other than the Queen of Macarons - Helen of Tartelette. I used the Italian method which is suppose to give a more stable macaron. Not sure what I did wrong but every single one cracked, even though the tops were shiny! It took a long while before I dared to try again! The next time round I used David Lebowitz's recipe and I didn't even age the egg whites, which is suppose to be a "no-no". Lo and behold, my macarons developed feet and they didn't crack. I was so excited. I remember running out from the kitchen, exclaiming, feet - feet! Any one other than my hubby would have certainly thought that a mad woman had ascended upon them. I guess only bakers can appreciate the excitment of seeing "feet". Would you believe me if I told you I still get this excitment plus the fact that I will stare ardently into my oven for the first 10 minutes just to see the macarons rise up.
For this particular challenge, I made two different batches over separate weekends. The first was a Hazelnut Espresso Chocolate Macaron sandwiched with a bittersweet chocolate ganache which had been flavoured with orange liquor. I sprinkled the top of each macaron with cocoa nibs. Huh - talk about chocolate overdose and it does sounds delish right?? Well they were! The espresso and bitterness of the chocolate counter-balanced the sugar just nicely! Pair these with a cup of espresso coffee and you'll be in 7th heaven!
The next batch was Almond Lemon-Mint Macaron sandwiched with chai flavoured chocolate ganache. I coloured the macarons in baby blue and even did some swirls on some of them, just for the sake of experimenting. These were delicious as well and the lemon-mint paired quite well with the chai flavour. I wasn't sure at first!
In all, this month's challenge has been another fun adventure. To check out other beautiful creations, go visit my fellow bakers at Daring Bakers .
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
1) Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2) Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3) Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4) Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5) Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6) Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7) Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: About two dozen filled macarons