Following the Easter long weekend, the hubby and I took the following week off as well to enjoy a short break. Whilst we went away over Easter, when we returned home we pottered around the house and had a little stay-cation. Of course I had big plans of catching up on the ironing, sorting out some of the kitchen cupboards and cooking a whole bunch of meals to put in the freezer, but alas, none of that eventuated.
The kitchen did end up getting a bit of a workout last weekend so stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks as there is some deliciousness in store for you my friends.
First on the agenda was a batch of macarons. It has been over six months since my last macaron post, and on this occasion I thought I would whip up a batch of simple, but very tasty, Chocolate Macarons.
I have made these chocolate macarons only once before, when my Nan was in hospital. My way to cope with things like that is to bake and I made a batch of these for my aunt and cousin as they were about to head back to Sydney, and left a few with the staff who were looking after Nan before she passed away. I did add a little something extra in the way of popping candy in the ganache for that batch, mainly as a little surprise for my aunt to spin her out.
For these you need the usual almond meal, icing sugar, egg whites, egg white powder, sugar, water and cocoa. I actually reduce the almond meal and icing sugar by 25g each from my usual recipe and replace with 50g cocoa powder. Make sure you use top-notch cocoa powder because you will taste it in the shell itself.
Place the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa in a food processor and blend for a few minutes, slightly tilting the food processor a couple of times to ensure everything is mixed thoroughly.
Pour the mixture through a sieve into a large bowl to capture any large pieces of almond meal. Stir in half of the egg whites into the almond meal mixture until you have a thick paste.
Make the sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water over a medium-high heat until you reach 119ºC. Whisk the remaining egg whites and egg white powder and once it is starting to froth, pour in the sugar syrup continuing to whisk until you have a thick and glossy meringue, which has cooled to room temperature.
Incorporate a small amount of the meringue into the almond meal paste to break up the mixture, then fold the remainder of the meringue through until mixed thoroughly and you a have an ever so slightly runny mixture.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe 4cm shells, using my 4cm macaron template if you so choose, onto baking paper or a silicone mat. This was the second time I have used my new Silpats that I purchased at the Cake Bake and Sweets Show and I must say I really do love how the macarons turn out when baked using them. I have noticed the feet are much better, but the bases are better again being perfectly flat and evenly cooked. Leave for 30-60 minutes until the shells form a skin and then bake in the preheated oven.
Onto the ganache. I used a slightly different recipe which incorporates a little butter for some extra richness and added shine in addition to the chocolate and cream which is standard for ganache.
Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl and heat the cream. You can do this the standard way on the stove, or if you feel like cheating a little, do so in the microwave. Once the cream is hot, pour over the chocolate and let it stand for a minute or two until the chocolate starts to melt. Stir the chocolate and cream and once completely melted, add the butter. You may need to heat the ganache in the microwave for a short burst if you find the cream has cooled too quickly.
Look at that shine! Set this aside to cool to room temperature. I have been finding lately that to make piping the ganache a little easier, I whip it in the stand mixer before putting into the piping bag to lighten it a little bit so it is not so dense. You still get the same rich flavour, but it just feels a little lighter. This works particularly well I have found with white chocolate ganache.
Pair up your macaron shells so they are similar in size and pipe the chocolate ganache on one half, then place the other on top and gently press together.
A moment of confession, I was lucky to get half a dozen completed macarons that were camera worthy, even if there was a small bump or two. The baking started off well, the macaron shells ended up collapsing a little once removed from the oven, despite seeming completely baked. Oh well, at least they still tasted delicious.
I packaged a few of these up for the hubby to give out at work and they looked super cute in their little boxes, don’t you agree?
I am a big fan of dark chocolate so that is what I made the ganache out of, but if you are not a fan you can certainly replace it with milk chocolate, or a combination of the two.
I would love to hear how you go if you attempt these chocolate macarons so please leave me a comment below.