October 23, 2012
Macarons are made with egg whites, ground almonds, and sugar. Their hard outer shells are sandwiched together with a filling, such as jam or a ganache. Macarons are much more delicate than cookies. They are crunchy on the outside and soft in the center--like a pastry.
Making macarons sounds crazy. You age egg whites, you fold batter so it becomes ribbon-like with no streaks, and then you wait for the macarons to grow feet. Let me tell you, seeing the macarons grow feet made me want to ribbon dance. Who would have thought that a dome of almond meringue could be ethereal?
My initial attempt at macarons did not succeed. Shortly after, my talented baking club friend Maureen did a very informative post on macarons. Maureen is very good with simplifying complex dishes, so I had complete faith in her recipe and technique and just knew it would help me create those ethereal domes! Maureen understood my excitement with macarons growing feet. :)
Aging the egg whites is important because this helps reduce the moisture content while retaining the protein bonds from the egg whites. In turn, this gives a more "elastic" texture to the cookies. I used a Silpat on one pan and parchment paper on another pan. The macaron shells were perfect on the Silpat, but a few shells did not turn out perfect on the parchment paper. Precision is essential for macarons, so all measurements are listed by weight (kitchen scale is a must-have!). If you can stand the wait, let the macarons stand for a day before serving, as it will meld the chocolate flavors.
Random trivia: In France, McDonald's sells macarons in the McCafes. Ladurée on the Champs-Elyseées in Paris sells nearly 15,000 per day!
For the shells:
110 grams almond meal
140 grams confectioners sugar
25 grams cocoa powder (Dutch-process recommended)
110 grams egg whites (3 extra-large egg whites), aged at room temperature for 24-72 hours
60 grams granulated sugar
For the ganache:
110 grams chocolate, chopped
100 ml heavy whipping cream
20 grams butter
Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper and set aside.
For the shells, place the almond meal, cocoa powder, and confectioners sugar into a food processor and process until the mixture is extremely fine (almost like a powder). Sift twice into a large bowl to ensure that the mixture will be smooth, and then set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat egg whites on high speed until very foamy, then gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until the sugar is dissolved. The mixture will become glossy and stiff.
Mix the egg whites into the sugar-almond meal mixture and stir quickly (about 10 strokes) using a rubber spatula to combine. You should achieve a thick batter that is almost ribbon-like, with no streaks.
Transfer the batter into a large piping bag fitted with a plain wide round tip. Pipe the mixture into small rounds on the prepared baking sheets. Each round should be about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and each round should be spaced about 1 inch apart. Tap the baking sheet to remove any air bubbles, and leave on the counter for at least 60 minutes so that the rounds develop a hard shell.
Preheat the oven to 300ºF and bake shells for 8-16 minutes (it took mine 14 minutes). <
While the shells are cooling, prepare the ganache. Melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler, and stir in the cream and room temperature butter. Cool to piping consistency. (To speed chilling, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator or freezer, and stir every 15 minutes until thick.)
Once the cookies are completely cooled, match by size into pairs. Pipe a layer of ganache onto the flat side of one shell, and sandwich it together with the remaining cookie, pushing the filling to the edges. Store in an airtight container.
Source: The Orgasmic Chef