RASPBERRY GANACHE MACARONS


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

to decorate:
drizzle of white chocolate
freeze dried-raspberries
sparkly sprinkles

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.

ENJOY!

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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A TALE OF TWO MACARONS

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This post is long overdue. The Cinnamon Macarons were made 11 months ago with our friend Cindy, who traveled from Oklahoma to spend a weekend with us. It was our second adventure to perfect these finicky babies, and Cindy, being way more organized than yours truly, brought a bunch of notes about what should have been improved from our previous attempt.  Of course, we had so much fun cooking together that we barely paid attention to the notes, and managed to overlook a couple of tips given by Kathryn Gordon in her beautiful book Le Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home.

Macarons3

 

CINNAMON MACARONS WITH CRUNCHY CACAO NIB FILLING

OVERVIEW OF THE RECIPE

Equal amounts of almond flour and confectioner’s sugar plus a pinch of salt are mixed with a little cinnamon in the food processor and pulsed a few times. Then some granulated sugar and powdered egg whites are added, pulsed a few more times. The whole mixture is sifted.

A French meringue is prepared with 4 egg whites and a bit of cream of tartar, added to the sifted ingredients, and piped into rounds.

Our filling of choice was a Crunchy Chocolate Ganache made with semi-sweet chocolate, light corn syrup, heavy cream, a bit of butter and – for the final pizzaz: roasted cocoa nibs.

(full recipe can be found in Les Petits Macarons)

oops

Comments:
The only problem we had in the making of this recipe was that  in some shells the feet “slipped out.”  It was hard to find a precise reason for that boo-boo, so we are left with the suspicion that macarons do not appreciate being watched during baking. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  But, you want to know something funny? A little sharp knife worked wonders to trim the runaway feet, and the resulting crumbs go UNBELIEVABLY well over some ice cream. Life gives you lemons? Make lemonade! Macarons give you extra feet? Sweet crumbs it is!  Full-disclosure: Cindy and I nicknamed them  “toe nail clippings”, much to our husbands chagrin. Oh, well… We could not resist. They were mighty tasty, though.
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Cindy, sorry it took me so long to compose this post!  That also means that you are overdue for a visit for take FOUR on macarons… Take four, you ask? Well, I made them again a few months ago, this time all by myself, which is not nearly as much fun!

Cinnamon Macarons, from Bewitching Kitchen


MACARONS, TAKE THREE


Back in February I felt the urge to make macarons again. You know, Valentine’s Day, romance in the air, but winter still lingering around. I wanted a batch of super bright and sexy macarons. Is there anything sexier than raspberries? Obviously not.  I opened all my macaron cookbooks (thanks to our friend Gary I own several), searched the net, but when I stumbled upon this recipe, I could not stop thinking about it.  Tricia shaped her macarons as little hearts!  Of course, knowing my limitations I did not even try to go there. They would end up more like rodent livers or something.  But maybe next time…

Raspberry Macarons2


RASPBERRY MACARONS

(adapted from Saving Room for Dessert)

for the shells:
150 grams almond meal, sift twice
150 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted
55 grams egg whites, aged overnight

for the meringue:
150 grams granulated sugar
37.5 grams water
55 grams egg whites, aged overnight
gel food color, red

for the filling:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, pureed and strained
a few drops of vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (more or less as needed for desired consistency)

Prepare 2 sheets of parchment paper and two baking sheets. To ensure consistent sized cookies, trace a cookie cutter on the parchment paper as a template then turn it over before piping. Prepare a pasty bag fitted with a large round tip. Set aside.
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Place the almond meal and the confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. In a large mixing bowl sift together the almond meal and confectioners’ sugar. Make a well in the center and add 55 grams of egg whites. Fold the mixture with a spatula until it becomes a thick, paste-like batter.
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Place the remaining 55 grams of egg whites in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set aside. In a small saucepan combine the granulated sugar and water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and heat to 225 degrees. Once the syrup reaches 225 degrees, turn on the stand mixer and beat the egg whites on high. Continue to beat the whites while cooking the syrup until it reaches 239 degrees. You want the meringue to be at soft peak stage so if it reaches that stage before the syrup reaches 239 degrees, turn the mixer down to low. When the syrup hits 239 degrees remove it from the heat and slowly pour it into the egg whites while the mixer is running. Try to stream the syrup directly into the whites close to the side of the bowl so it won’t cool too quickly. Whip on high for a minute then reduce the speed to low and continue beating until the bowl has cooled slightly and glossy stiff peaks have formed.
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Add about half the meringue to the batter, gently folding until combined and smooth. Gradually add the remaining meringue, and food color if using, and fold until the batter is smooth. To test consistency, pick up the spatula and if the batter ribbons back into the bowl, it is ready. It should be like lava blending back into itself after about a minute.
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Heat oven to 300 degrees. Fill pastry bags with the macaron batter. Pipe the batter into rounds. Once the first sheet is filled, rap the pan on the counter a few times to rupture any air bubbles trapped in the cookie. Rotate the pan and rap again. Set the baking sheet aside to allow a shell to form. This will take about 20-30 sitting out at room temperature. Pipe another sheet of cookies and repeat.
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Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes for until you can lift the cookie off the parchment coming away clean. Remove the entire sheet of parchment paper with cookies intact to a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, remove the macarons from the parchment and fill as desired.
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To prepare the buttercream, blend the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla, raspberry puree, and about 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar. Blend until smooth. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar until you reach the desired consistency for the filling. It does not have to be as thick as cake icing as it will harden once refrigerated. Pipe mounds of buttercream on once cookie, top with a matching macaron and twist a little to spread the filling. Refrigerate macarons for 24-48 hours before serving for the best flavor. Allow them to rest at room temperature about an hour before serving.
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Makes 30 filled macarons, or about 60 individual shells.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

collage1

Comments: Definitely some major improvement this time, thanks to a new sifter with a slightly bigger mesh size. Sifting the almond flour/sugar mixture was a breeze, and I decided to simply discard the small mount of coarse bits left in the sieve. Every recipe insists on a fine mesh, but I suspect you don’t need to go too fine, unless you enjoy spending 20 minutes to sift 1 cup of stuff… Nope, not happening again. I am pretty happy with this arrangement. This is a OXO brand sieve, found in our grocery store for very cheap.  I love it!

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The meringue worked very well, although I was in full hyperventilation mode trying to negotiate the temperature of the simple syrup and the beating of the egg whites all by myself. A second pair of friendly hands would be more than welcome…  The final batter had that flowing lava consistency, which always gives me a smile, after all, how many people have actually seen lava flowing? Hopefully not that many, not the type of stuff I’d like to face.  At any rate, I guess now it’s a matter of working on technique, piping circles more consistent in diameter, doing a slightly better job in the “macaronage step.”  I was afraid to deflate the batter too much and ended up with some spots where the flour mixture did not fully incorporate.  When that happened, the shells cracked during baking.  I was lucky that it happened to just a few. Being the magnanimous person I am, I quickly swallowed them before Phil even had a chance to see them. What can I say? I give, and give, and give.

Raspberry MacaronsAren’t we adorable?

 

Raspberry Macarons, from Bewitching Kitchen

I hope you enjoyed my little Tale of Two Macarons… I now realize how much I love making them, and hope to try a slightly different take on the subject by baking up a batch of…are you ready for it? Savory Macarons! Kathryn’s book has many variations.  Don’t you think Saffron Macarons with Tomato Confit Filling sounds amazing? I might just have to go for it…

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