Staying safe in Corona virus time: read the guest blog post by Phillip Klebba here.
If I wake up in the middle of the night, my mind often floats through baking projects. This past weekend I woke up thinking about marbled cakes and how much I like the method of pouring the batter in concentric circles instead of dropping patches of different colors around the cake pan. That thought took me to macarons. Two colors of batter. Two piping bags. Alternating colors on each shell, in a concentric pattern. I woke up next morning and went to work.
SMOKED CHOCOLATE MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
For the shells:
200g Icing/powdered sugar
115 g ground almonds
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
black gel food color
for the smoked chocolate ganache:
150g heavy cream (you won’t use the full amount in the ganache)
1 bag smoked black tea (Lapsang Souchong)
2 tsp corn syrup
230g semi-sweet chocolate in pieces
Start by making the filling, as it must cool down before using. Bring the heavy cream to a gentle boil, add the tea bag. Turn the heat off, close the pan and leave the tea infusing for 30 minutes. Squeeze the tea bag and remove it. Bring the cream to a gentle boil again, then pour 115g of it over the chocolate. Leave it for 5 minutes, gently whisk until smooth, add the corn syrup. Cool it until it gets to a good consistency for piping on the shells.
Make the macaron shells: Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered/icing sugar and ground almonds/almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment/baking paper. Set aside.
Place the egg whites and 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 in five additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff). Add the vanilla. 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 ground almond/almond meal mixture in two increments. When it is almost combined, divide the batter in two and add black food color to one portion. Proceed to mix the batters separately until they both reach proper texture for piping (batter should form a figure 8 on the surface as you drop it from a spatula). Put each mixture in a piping bag fitted with a round, ¼ inch tip. Pipe shells, using a little bit of one color, add the second on top, right in the center, then back to the first color, alternating in concentric circles. If desired, make a design with a needle. You need to work fast and pipe 4 to 6 shells before moving to a second batch.
Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter/worktop. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.
While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 285 F (a lower temperature is better to keep the white color). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 13 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. The macarons should release without sticking.
Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add 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. Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: A few things are important to keep in mind if you try this piping technique. You should prepare two piping bags with round tips that are no bigger than 1/4 inch in diameter. A small opening is better because you will be piping each shell in three steps, alternating colors. Some shells I did “black-white-black”, some shells I did “white-black-white.” As you see in the composite picture, I started with a very small round of batter, and that was not a good idea. It is better to pipe a larger round, then add the other color in the center of it, so that the edge of the first color is still quite visible. The third piping will be pretty much just a small little blob that you do by touching the tip on the surface. My technique was changing a bit as I piped, you can see the “evolution” of the pattern below, from left to right. I also made a few mini-macs with solid color because small is beautiful (wink, wink).
With this method, it will be hard to make a small macaron, so be prepared to have cookies that will be up to 2 inches in diameter. When you make the first color large enough, it is easier to center the second on top, and the final one after that. As I was making the concentric pattern it occurred to me I could use a needle to create additional features to the shells, so that’s what I tried next.
Some stayed simple, and some received the needle treatment. Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to work fast. I made 4 to 6 shells at a time. Piped the first color, switched to the second, piped on top. Back to the first, finished them, and used the needle right away. Moved to the next batch. Working fast is important because you want the two batters to mingle together as one, as much as possible. I did bang the sheets on the surface, and that did not interfere with the design. I started baking the first sheet at 300F as I normally do, but the white got a slight hint of brown even at this temperature. To preserve the white as much as possible, bake them at 285F for a tad longer (I wrote the recipe already with this lower temperature in mind).
The smoked chocolate ganache is quite delicious. I first learned about it in a Japanese patisserie cookbook, and made it a few times in the past. I thought that it could go well with this black and white design of the shells. The tea is intensely flavored, so I think one bag is all you need. Some recipes call for two bags for the same amount of ganache. To my taste, it would be excessive.
I loved baking these macs, because that crazy thought the popped in my mind in the middle of the night materialized the way I hoped. The possibilities are endless, using three colors, different ways to work the needle, I can hardly wait to try it again. And again. I hope you do too…
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