03 July 2010
About a year ago, I made macarons for the first time. Though I still can't manage to produce those beautiful, smooth caps, I still enjoy making them. And the combination of chocolate ganache and the smooth, almond-y taste of the macarons is still unbeaten.
Don't be afraid - the ganache is terribly easy to make, just chop up the chocolate, pour over the boiling cream and stir slowly until you have a shiny and glossy cream. Just follow these instructions in one of my older posts. Because the ganache needs quite a long time to cool, it is best to make it one day ahead.
CINNAMON MACARONS WITH DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE
250 g / 8.8 oz ground almonds
250 g / 8.8 oz powdered sugar
125 g / 4.4 oz / 4 egg whites
50 g / 1.8 oz sugar
GANACHE (see here for instructions)
100 g / 3.5 oz semi-sweet chocolate (50%)
100 g / 3.5 oz cream
1 tablespoon rum, eg Negrita
In Germany, powdered sugar is often sold in 250 g packs. So I thought I'd base the recipe on this measurement, because weighing powdered sugar is always such a mess. And I couldn't find ground almonds in my supermarket, so I bought slivered ones.
Mix the almonds and the powdered sugar together and pulse them in your food processor, yes, even if you bought ground almonds. Sieve it all through a fine mesh and pulverize the rests that stay behind until all is evenly and finely ground. And yeah, you really need to do this step!
Weigh the regular sugar and put the following things in reach: a rubber spatula, a piping bag with a big round nozzle, several sheets of baking paper. If you are feeling especially pedantic (or you are piping for the first time in your life), draw regular circles with a pencil and then turn the sheet over. Nobody really wants to eat pencil shavings...
And if your oven is kinda slow, preheat now to 165°C / 325°F.
Beat the egg whites until they are fairly stiff, then slowly add the regular sugar and continue beating until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Also add the vanilla - see the little black flecks? They come from the real vanilla sugar. Or add color or other flavors you like.
Dump all the beaten egg whites in a bowl together with the ground almonds.
Forget everything you heard about handling beaten egg whites, simply stir until everything is combined and then a bit more.
You need to find the exact right consistency which everyone describes as "flowing like lava". I don't know about you, but I have never seen lava flow and I'm just guessing that you haven't either. So let me put it in other words: the French call it "flowing into a ribbon" and I'm thinking this is just the way honey does. The mixture you see above could have used some more stirs, it was still too dense.
Fill everything into your piping bag. I found out that a giant freezer bag clip helps you immensely handling the bag as you don't have to be afraid anymore that the dough will come out the wrong end.
Start piping into your pre-drawn circles, these were 5 cm / 2 inch in diameter (I used a glass for drawing them). And don't pipe the circumference of the circles, simply place the nozzle in the middle, just a little bit above the baking paper and start squeezing gently. Stop squeezing when the dough has reached your circle outline, then lift the nozzle with a quick motion. You can press down the peaks with a slightly moistened finger afterward.
If you like, you can now sprinkle on some cinnamon or anything else you like.
Let it all sit there for half an hour - that helps that the surface will get dry and hard, so that they will rise and have those crumpled little feet.
See, the have risen quite a bit - too much, actually. That is why I should have stirred the mixture a bit more. Let them cool completely before you try to remove them. If you're too impatient, you'll end up with the innards sticking to the paper and a hollow shell in your hand.
Fill with the cooled ganache (or your favorite jam, butter cream or lemon curd) and then let them sit overnight. That's right, you'll have to wait until the next day until you can eat them. Of course, you could eat them right away, but they will be much better the next day - which makes it the perfect gift / bring-along for your colleagues.