Valentines day is just around the corner and no food is more romantic in my opinion than chocolate! Here I am with a recipe that many of you requested, my chocolate macarons with a salted bitter chocolate ganache.
These beautiful and delicate french cookies are a bit technical to make, but if you follow all the pressure points, these aren't that difficult to make in the first go.
Macarons are often very sweet. The cookie shells are meringue based, i.e. egg whites and sugar and that give it that extra sweetness that many don't like. I am one such person. So when I decided to make macarons, I knew I wanted a bitter or a tart filling to balance the sweetness.
The macaron shells are often very colourful. If you know me, I also don't like using artificial colours, and hence I decided to make chocolate macarons first as this wouldn't require me to use any added food colours.
When I was making the filling, I first made a salted caramel chocolate ganache. It tasted amazing on it's own, not too sweet, a little salty, but when I tried it with the macaron shells, it was just too sweet. So this ganache recipe that I have here may taste a little too bitter on it's own, but do taste it with the baked macaron shell. It is needed to balance all that sweetness. You can adjust the bitterness of the chocolate here depending on how bitter you personally prefer your chocolate.
Here is what you will need, to make these macarons -
100g - Egg whites
100g - Almond flour
100g - Powdered sugar
2 tbsp - Cocoa powder
1/2 cup - Caster sugar
1/4 tsp - Cream of tartar
150g - 75%-90% Bitter Dark chocolate
150ml - Double cream
1 tsp - Instant coffee (optional)
1/4 tsp - Salt
The batter -
- Take the almond flour, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor and pulse it 10-12 times.
- Shift this mixture into a clean bowl and discard any big pieces of almonds.
- In another clean mixing bowl, take the egg whites and add the cream of tartar to it.
- Start to whisk these egg whites at a low-medium speed until it gets frothy.
- At this stage, start to gradually add one table spoon of sugar into the bowl at a time.
- Keep whisking the egg whites until the added sugar dissolves completely into the egg whites.
- Add the next spoonful of sugar only after the previous spoonful is dissolved completely.
- Once all the sugar has been added to the egg whites, check that the meringue forms stiff peaks. If not, whisk it for a couple of more minutes until you get stiff peaks.
- One test of the meringue being ready is also to flip the bowl upside down. If the meringue doesn't move even a bit, it is ready!
- Now add around a third of the dry ingredients into the bowl with the meringue. Using a spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until it is combined.
- Add the remaining dry ingredients and start folding it into the meringue mixture very gently.
- Once most of the dry ingredients has been incorporated, after every fold, start to gently drop the mixed batter from the spatula into the same bowl in a figure 8 motion.
- Initially the batter will be thicker and the batter ribbon will break before you can complete a figure 8 motion. But keep folding the batter gently and test after every fold until can just make a figure 8 without the batter breaking in between.
- Place a round tip nozzle on your piping bag and add all the macaron batter into the piping bag.
Piping and baking -
- You can use a printed stencil or one that you have made yourself to ensure that all your macarons are of the same size.
- To make your own sheet, take parchment paper, a small round cookie cutter and start to make circles equal distance apart, using a pen.
- Piper just a tiny dot of meringue batter on all four corners of the baking sheet.
- Place your printed or handmade stencil ink side down on the baking sheet and press it slightly on all four corners so that the parchment paper is secured in place.
- Keep the piping bag perpendicular to the parchment paper and start to pipe the macarons in the middle of the circle.
- Once all the macarons have been piped, tap the baking sheet on the kitchen counter 4-5 times to knock all the extra air bubbles out of the batter or to bring them to the surface.
- You will notice a few bubbles on the surface of the macarons.
- Take a toothpick and gently burst those air bubbles. Also give the batter a gentle wiggle with the toothpick around the area to cover the dent left by the burst air bubble.
- Now let the sheet rest in a dry place for around 45 minutes until the top of the macarons form a dry film on top. Depending on the weather and the humidity, it can take anywhere between 20-60 minutes for this step.
- Once the macaron tops have dried enough that you can gently brush your finger on top without the batter sticking in your finger, the macarons are ready to be baked.
- Place the baking tray in a preheated oven at 160 degrees C for about 15-20 minutes depending on your oven.
- The macarons should have risen with their characteristic feet.
- Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the macarons cool on the parchment paper for around 15-20 minutes before transferring these to a wired rack to cool completely.
The ganache -
- Finely chop the dark chocolate.
- Place the cream in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer. Switch off the heat.
- Add the chopped chocolate and the instant coffee into the warm cream and stir it gently so that the cream covers the chocolate.
- Let this sit undisturbed for 3-5 minutes.
- Now add the salt and start the mix the chocolate and cream mixture until all the melted chocolate is evenly mixed with the cream.
- Let it cool to room temperature and place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Now start to whisk the cooled ganache until you just start to notice stiff peaks.
- Place the whipped ganache into a clean piping bag.
- Flip half of the macarons over so that the feet side faces up.
- Pipe a good sized dollop of the whipped ganache into the centre of each flipped macaron.
- Now place the other piece of the macaron shell on top of the ganache and press down gently until the filling almost reaches the sides.
- Fill all the macarons similarly.
- Enjoy your delicious chocolate macarons.
- It is said that macarons taste better after 12-24 hours. You can store your macarons in an air tight container.
Now I know this is a long recipe. I have tried to explain the entire process in detail. Apart from these, there are also these points that can help:
The sugar -
- Caster sugar is a fine, small gain sugar. In India, it is not very commonly available. So you can take the same measurement of regular sugar and pulse it a few times in a food processor or a mixer to make it fine. Turning it into a powder is also not a bad idea. It means it will get dissolved into the egg whites that much quicker!
- Do not reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe. A good and stable meringue will need this much sugar. Remember, we are balancing this out with a bitter salted ganache.
The flour -
- A fine ground almond flour, made from blanched/skinless almonds is needed for this recipe. So a store bought pack of fine almond flour will give you the best results.
- Processing the almond flour along with the powdered sugar is an important step. It helps in making the fine almond flour even finer and this in turn gives a smooth macaron shell.
- Pulse the almond flour and do not grind it in a continuous go. We have to process it into a finer powder but not process it so much that the flour starts to release its oil.
The meringue -
- A lot of recipes call for aged egg whites. What it means that separate the egg whites the night before and store it in a clean and air tight container overnight in the fridge.
- I prefer this method because when I start to make my batter, I have the egg whites all separated already and ready to go.
- Take the egg whites out of the fridge a couple of hours before you plan to start making your batter.
- The bowl that you use to make the meringue, make sure that it is clean and free from any kind of fat. This can prevent the meringue from fluffing up. It is a good idea to take a few drops of white vinegar in a napkin or kitchen towel and wipe the inside of the bowl thoroughly before adding the egg whites into it.
- If you do not have cream of tartar, you can use 1/8 tsp of salt or 1/4 tsp white vinegar in the recipe.
- Don't be too worried of over whipping your egg whites. Under whipped egg whites will not form a good batter. Keep whisking until you are certain you have got stiff peaks and that all the sugar is dissolved into the egg whites.
The batter -
- Be very gentle in folding the batter. Take your time.
- Stop mixing the batter any further after you start getting a perfect figure 8 from your batter. This is a great indicator that the batter is at the correct consistency.
- A weighing scale is really useful for this recipe. This recipe needs that accuracy. You can try making it without a weighing scale too in case you don't have one currently. Use egg whites from 3 large eggs here.
- Watch a few videos of macaron recipes. This is to make yourself familiar with the process, the texture of the meringue and the batter and also the piping technique for the meringue shells.
Well, I think I have covered almost all the things I know about making macarons and the things I followed personally. I hope you find it informative and the tips useful.
Do give the recipe a try. Make it for you and your loved ones and have a great time relishing these delicious treats!