Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Macarons with Bitter Chocolate Ganache


Hi Friends, Hope you all had a Great X’mas and a Lovely New year. I am quite late here to wish you both, yet, wishing you all a very happy and prosperous New Year. I really got caught up for the past few weeks, shopping, baking, cooking, roaming around and with the boy’s school off for nearly 3 weeks, everything was going at a very slow pace! Cleaning the house, cooking and clearing his toys itself tire me up, let alone shooting pictures and typing. So some posts which were intended to post for Xmas and New Year had to be postponed for sometime later.  Today’s post was something that I have been longing to post for a long time now – Macarons. Loads to type, lot of links and tips to share got my post further delayed. I am not yet the perfect Macaron maker, but so far I have successfully managed to get ‘feet’. Now that I have already made it more than half a dozen times, I thought I’ll start sharing them one by one.

 I don’t really fancy cookies as such and so macarons dint appeal to me when it first started appearing on blogs. I know it’s an eye candy, but somehow it dint appeal to me initially. I don’t know if it was the bright colours that put me off, but now, I had to revert that statement completely. The hype that was going on around the blogs and social networks, the screaming and excitement of getting to see the so called ‘feet’ really put me into thoughts. That wave of excitement, at some point hit me too and I also thought of giving it a go just to feel that bliss. That was it. Macaron bug then hit me too! My oven then saw around 7 successful batches of macarons since then. Making them are addictive, I warn you, and so are eating them. I was warned by many bloggers about its addictive characteristics, but I couldn’t resist making them. I have taken few batches for a party and some to gift friends. Even though bloggers are quite acquainted with these delights; I don’t really think many people know about macarons. When I took them over to friend’s place, only a couple had it and they got it gifted from a family friend who bought them from Harrods!

I am not intimated with complicated recipes and so I try anything and everything that I would want to try and taste. I take the complicated recipes as a challenge and am very pleased when I get it right.  I don’t always expect the best of outcome, but make sure that it would be edible enough not to go to bin.  Yet, I was anxious about making macarons as I have come across many macaron mishaps with many great bloggers as well. So I was all prepared for the worst when I first piped out my macarons. Piped them crap, without any shapes, with least of hopes and yet I sat down next to my oven door impatiently while the macarons were baking and to my surprise when I saw the ‘feet’ forming, I was so excited, over the moon! I went through what other bloggers were going through.

So, what are these Macarons??They are one of the most notorious and finicky French cookies made of ground almonds, icing sugar, caster sugar and aged egg whites-four simple ingredients, yet not so simple to get it perfect. Macarons are characterised by their dome shaped shiny top and a ruffled base called the ‘foot’ or ‘feet’. These are chewy little delicate meringue shells sandwiched using any filling of your choice. The shells and filling can have myriad of flavours and colours and are really an eye candy to look at and a delight to bite into.  These are not to be confused with the coconutty ‘macaroons’ which are made of egg whites and desiccated coconut. Once I got my first successful batch of macarons, I have been on the roll making them with different flavours; chocolate, coffee, rosewater and cardamoms to name a few. Macaron shells are quite sweet so you might want to compliment it with a less sweet filling even though nutella and jam that I tried was quite great. 

Macaron making would just seem to be a simple process of whipping some egg whites and mixing it with almond meal. Hell no! Unlike other cookies, macaron success is the result of the mixing technique rather than following a recipe as it is. Same recipe can yield entirely different yield depending on your mixing. Before I made my own batch of macarons, I have had thorough read on many articles and went through many videos to get myself acquainted with the method and consistency of macaron batter as right as possible. Before you head with your macaron adventure, it would be very helpful to have a good read on these articles in the link given below. You will be able to pick many points and avoid the mistakes that others have done in their making. 

Check these sites and blogs for tips and troubleshooting of macarons, some interesting recipes, videos and so on:

* One of the best Macaron making tutorials and the one that I followed for my macaron making; Helen (Tartelette) shares her macaron tutorial named ‘Demystifying Macarons’ here: Demystifying Macarons.

*  Check out Finla's collection of macarons here. Finla, Thank you for clearing all my silly doubts and support.

* Don’t forget to check out dear Mowie’s blog for wonderful Mac flavours and great video links. Mowielicious

*Notsohumble blog have loads of troubleshooting ways to, erm, troubleshoot your macarons, ofcourse. I love it!Link: Notsohumblepie

*Check out David Lebovitz’s site for his chocolate macaron recipe plus all the links related to macaron:Ckeck it out  Here .

*Talented Meeta of Whatslunchforhoney has great Macaron flavours and her tips are great. Check out this link Here.

*Sweet Rose of magpies shares her macaron making experience during her macaron baking class.  Magpiesrecipes .

*Check out Nisha’s hilarious post and her first time experience on macarons. Loved it.Mykitchenantics. 

Plain Macarons with Bitter Chocolate Ganache
Makes around 25 sandwiched cookies.
For shells:  (Recipe adapted and halved from Mowie and Meeta)
55g Almond (slivers, blanched or powder)
100g Icing sugar
15g caster sugar
45g Egg whites

Recipe 2:
65g Almond (slivers, blanched or powder)
100g Icing sugar
12g caster sugar
45g Egg whites

Bitter chocolate Ganache:
100g bitter sweet (dark) chocolate
100mls double cream
¼ tsp vanilla essence

Preparation (Mac Shells):
1.Place egg whites in a clean bowl. Cover it loosely with a cling film and poke few holes in the film. Keep it in your kitchen counter for 24-48 hours or in fridge for up to 5 days.

2.  Powder almonds and icing sugar in a food processor or a grinder into very flour-like fine powder. Transfer them to a large bowl and sieve 2-3 times to break up the lumps. Discard the large grains of almonds if any. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl and keep aside while you work with meringue.

3. For making meringue, whisk egg whites in a squeaky clean bowl on high until it starts to form soft peaks, using an electric blender. Add in caster sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. It should be like a smooth, glossy shaving cream like form and don’t whip to dry. If adding any liquid or gel colour, add once stiff peaks are formed and then beat again to bring back to peaks incorporating the food colouring. ( Make sure it is not over beaten and dry, which would result in dry shells).

4. Add meringue to the dry mixture in 2-3 portions and start folding it in quick strokes until everything is just combined and no more of dry mixture could be seen. Use a flexible spatula or a wooden spoon for this and mix until you get a smooth, shiny batter that ruggedly drips down the spoon once you lift it. DO NOT over mix once you have reached that thick batter stage. For testing, place a teaspoon of batter in a plate and you see it spreading flat, then the batter should be ready to go. If it has a peak on top, give couple more folds and check again.

5. Line your baking sheet with baking paper or silpat. For piping out perfect rounds, you can use the macaron template. Take few copies of the template and slide it beneath the baking paper(Do not forget to taken them out before baking). Fit your piping bag with a round tip nozzle and pipe small rounds of about 2 cm diameter on your baking paper leaving about 2 inch in between. The macaron batter will spread and then join hands with the next one if they are piped too close, so make sure leave at least 2 inches. Rap the baking sheet few times on a table to remove any bubbles trapped in the batter.

6. Let the macarons sit to dry for as long as it forms a skin on top or is dry enough that it leaves no indentation once touched. It depends from place to place depending on the weather and humidity, it takes up to 2 hours for me here, it might need just half hour to 1 hour in other places.

7. Preheat the oven to 140 degress Celcius. Bake the macaron for 10-13 minutes. Do not open the oven until they are completely done.  Take them out and let them cool down for half an hour or so. Peel them out gently and fill them with your favourite fillings. For filling, place a teaspoon of your filling on the flat side of one shell and place another macaron shell and gently twist the top shell instead of pressing it to evenly distribute the filling. I usually fill them with ganache, jam, Cream cheese sweetened with confectioners’ sugar etc. But there are many fancy fillings around the web and other blogs.

8.Leave the filled cookie to mature in the fridge for a day or two for the flavours of the fillings to mingle with the shell and to get the best results. Macarons are best eaten after a day or 2 of filling them. You freeze the unfilled shells. I Even froze the filled cookie;let it thaw in room temperature before serving.

Bitter Chocolate Ganache:

Bring double cream to simmering point in a heavy base pan or in microwave. Once you start seeing small bubbles appearing along the sides, turn the heat off and add chopped chocolates into it. Leave it for couple of minutes, add vanilla essence and then stir well until combined. Leave aside until it firms enough to pipe. You can also pop it into fridge once warm and then take it out once firm enough to pipe.

I had no patience, left my Ganache in fridge to set, then forgot about it. It got firmer than I could pipe, and instead of warming it up, I spooned it as it is onto shells. So I dint get those neat filling in as my Ganache was stiff.

Tips and notes:
1.Measuring out the ingredients precisely is very crucial. So, I have given them in metric terms rather than volumes because that is what I followed. Investing on a good digital scale will be very helpful here. Sorry, I won’t be able to give volume measures here as it’s quite difficult to measure them.

2. While grinding almonds grind it along with icing sugar. You can use whole almonds, powdered  or almonds slivers. Powdered almonds we get here are still grainy, so I grind them again along with icing sugar to fine dust. If almond is ground by itself, it will start releasing its oil and you will get sticky almond paste rather than powder. Also make sure you sift the dry ingredients to breakup all the lumps at least twice before mixing with egg whites.

3. Ageing of egg whites:
This is one vital thing in making these finicky cookies. As fresh egg whites contain more moisture content, it will yield fragile shells. Aged egg whites helps in stabilizing the shells to an extend. For ageing, place the egg whites in a squeaky clean, loosely covered bowl for 24-48 hours in room temperature on your kitchen counter or up to 5 days in refrigerator. For separating eggs, it is always easy to separate cold eggs. Crack open the eggs using a knife and make sure there is no yolk bits in the egg whites. If yolks happen to trap in the whites, remove them using the egg shell itself else use it to make a good Old Omelette and use another egg. I hate taking petty risks as these, so if yolks happen to get into egg whites I would use another egg. Some also add egg white powder to stabilize the meringue which I am yet to use.

4. For whipping egg whites use a clean metal or glass bowl instead of plastic bowl. Make sure they are void of grease, grime, fat and are dry.

5. Macaronnage: This is the intimidating part of macaron making. A few extra folds and you can end up with absolutely feetless macarons. Remember not to under fold or over fold. I usually fold just until I get the batter to a consistency that when a spoonful of batter is dropped onto a plate it flattens without a peak on top. Do not over fold too. The more you fold, it will make your macaron batter thin and result in a subsequent feetless macarons.  Your batter should fall ruggedly off the spatula when lifted. I have read it many blogs and sites that the macaron batter should have the consistency of lava, but how many of us know what lava consistency is?! A video of macaron making will really help here.

6. Drying the piped macarons: Drying the piped macarons again helps in the feet-forming. Dry them until they form a hard film on top or leaves no mark when gently pressed.

7. Bake one sheet at a time. Temperature in oven can vary and some oven can have hotspots too. I realized that while baking macarons, the left side macarons gets baked faster than right side ones. So I turn my pan towards that last couple of minutes so that I get evenly baked ones. You can also use two pans on top of each other for baking macarons as that will help even heat distribution.

8. Macarons are chewy and tends to stick to the baking paper if undercooked. To remove the cookies easily off the baking paper, Let the cookies cool completely. Then spray the underside of the baking paper with water and then gently peel the shells off.

Last, but not the least, one of my favourite bloggers, Deeba has founded a blog dedicated to macarons along with Jamie – ‘Mactweets’ for all the Mac obsessed people out there. I could easily relate Mac making to an addiction, when you are in it is so hard to get out of it. And that’s one reason that you not just see one macaron, but many in every blog. I am sending these little devils over to ‘Mactweets’ for their MacAttack challenge. I am sure, I am going to be one regular contributor there for a while.

Have a nice day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...