The first recipe of the year should be special. Special in the sense that it should involve something I love to make, something that turned out particularly delicious, and that I will be making again and again as the year goes by. Two options fought hard in my mind to be featured. Mirror-glazed cakes, and French macarons. If you’ve been around the Bewitching, you know that my obsession with macarons is several years old. Mirror glaze is a more recent adventure, but not less fascinating for me. What made me go for macarons? The fact that I have five macaron recipes not yet shared with you. Mirror-glaze cake? I only have one. Another factor that tipped the scale was that my last macaron post happened last August, whereas shiny cakes were featured just a couple of weeks ago. So that pretty much settled it. I made this batch of pink macs to give to dear friends, which also made them much more special to me.
RASPBERRY GANACHE MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
pink gel color from AmeriColor
2 drops vanilla extract
for the filling:
8 ounces white chocolate
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
drizzle of white chocolate
Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.
Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.
Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.
Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with one of the tips listed above. Pipe on the prepared baking sheets.
Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes. If using edible gold powder, sprinkle a little with a brush and use a hand-held fan to spread it over like dust.
While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 330 F (170 C/gas mark 3). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
Make the filling: Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water on low heat. Stir chocolate until melted. Remove from heat, and whisk in jam and heavy cream. Cover and chill 2 hours, or until cold. Whip it with a hand-held electric mixer until it reaches a good consistency for piping. Transfer ganache to a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch star tip.
Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and pipe a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge. Decorate any way you want, or leave them plain. Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: I am very happy with this bake. I think the raspberry ganache worked very well as a filling, because the white chocolate is sweet, but the raspberry balances it all. I made this exact filling twice, first time I used raspberry jam with seeds, this time it was seedless. I liked them both, actually. Since seedless can be a bit harder to find, I advise you not to worry too much about it, either way it will be great.
But what gave me the real thrill was finally getting a nice swirl pattern on the filling. I guess the secret is whipping the ganache once it’s cold and making sure it is the right texture for piping a nice star-shaped mound. Until this time the swirl would just be lost once I sandwiched the cookies together, the filling (be it buttercream or ganache) did not have the correct density to hold its shape. I hope I can repeat it in the near future…
To get the raspberry dust, simply press a few freeze-dried raspberries through a small sieve on top of the chocolate drizzle before it sets. These little bits of powder pack intense sharp flavor and really pump up the raspberry component. Freeze-dried fruits last a long time, so I always make sure to keep a bag in the pantry.
On the chocolate drizzle: you don’t have to temper the chocolate for that. It will not be as shiny as if you go through the trouble of tempering, but with all the other sprinkles on top, I don’t think it makes much difference. You can conceivably use Candy Melts, but their taste does not compare with the real thing. And for great friends, how could I not use the very best?
Finally, I little comment about the pictures. The two initial photos were taken with my camera, all others with my cell phone. The difference in color is striking. Oddly enough, the cell phone depicted them more realistically as far as the shade of pink. I don’t know why that would be the case, it’s a bit frustrating, as I think overall the quality of the shots with a real camera is much better. Oh, well. If anyone has some input, drop me a line at sallybr2008 at gmail dot com. MERCI BIEN!
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