I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
I’ve certainly been at home most of the time this Christmas season. It may sound a little sad, or boring, but being able to bake the perfect macaron in time for Christmas was definitely the cherry on top of a sundae.
Just like many famed celebrities out there, the French macaron is sophisticated, sexy, and notorious at the same time. Although you may not see it on FHM’s top 100 yada-yadas, just sink your teeth into the crust of this sugar-laden cookie and you’re on your way to a burst of flavors. This cookie features an egg shell like crust that gives in to a chewy underside and a delectable filling.
Unlike your regular chocolate chip cookie, even though this cookie is no french bitch, it is without a doubt, the hardest cookie I’ve ever made. I’ve thus made a number of notes that may put you in the right track.
Store bought ground almond are never fine enough. Grind them once more in the food processor.
Your ground almond need to be dry. Spread them out on a baking sheet and toast them with care. Let them cool before using.
Sift your blended dry ingredients at least 3 times.
Age your egg whites for at least 2 days and use them at room temperature. This will allow a greater volume to be whipped up.
When whipping your whites, always start slow, then gradually increasing your speed.
Always rest your piped macaron batter in a draft-free area for about 45 mins to an hour, depending on the humidity. There must be a skin formed.
After sandwiching your macaron shells, allow them to mature about 3 days to reach the perfect texture.
I’ve made macarons with this same recipe before, only it wasn’t much of a success. The ‘feet’ were protruding, and the batter spread out a little too much. However, with enough time, the shells tasted pretty dang good.
That said, I’ve since made a new batch of these Earl Grey Macaron shells, filled with chocolate-mint and lemon curd. First, you taste the ‘innards’, then the fragrance of bergamot explodes in your mouth. It’s pretty magical. But hey, it’s Christmas.
Earl Grey Macaron Shells
adapted from Foodjetaime
makes about 100 small or 50 regular sized shells
110g ground almond, dry
200g powdered sugar
90g aged egg whites, room temp
A pinch of cream of tartar
30g fine granulated sugar
2 tea bags Earl Grey tea (I used Dilmah)
As always, make sure to age the egg whites for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours. Weigh out the ingredients accurately. Combine the almond, powdered sugar and the tea leaves in a food processor or chopper. Process until very fine and sift into a bowl. Process any larger pieces left over.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 90g of egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy. Add in the cream of tartar, then the 30g of granulated sugar gradually, taking care to incorporate sugar well after each addition. Gradually increase your speed (there’s absolutely no rush) until relatively stiff and glossy peaks form. You should be able to invert the bowl and the meringue should stay in place. The air bubbles in the meringue should also be very small.
Add half of the almond and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites and gently fold to incorporate. Add the rest of the mixture and fold carefully and gently, until you see a consistency somewhat like lava. Be careful not to overfold.
Pipe 1 inch rounds onto silpat lined baking sheets, giving them ample space because they will spread a little. Let them rest for 30 minutes or until skins are formed.
Heat a convection oven to 260 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate your baking sheets at least once for even baking.
Let them cool on the baking sheets before peeling them off. Cool them further on racks, before adding the filling. Allow your macarons to mature for at least the next 3 days to improve with texture.
Mint Dark Chocolate Ganache
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Valrhona 70%)
1/3 C heavy cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/16 tsp peppermint extract
Melt chocolate with cream over a simmering pan of water, or in a microwave. When smooth, remove from the heat. Add butter and the mint, until mixed completely. Let it stand till cooled and slightly thickened. Chill it in the fridge and once you take it out, fill your piping bag with it. This way, it’s much easier to pipe.