Monday, May 6, 2013

Strawberry Chocolate Macarons


     Nothing impresses these days like a macaron.  I brought a tray of these to cooking club and they were gone before the meeting started.  Most people think you need magical powers or some innate ability to make them, but that isn't true.  All you need is some patience, precise measurements, and the ingredients.

      I decided to make chocolate-strawberry macarons this time.  I've never made either flavor before, but I figured that they would make the perfect combination.  After shooting the photos, I realized that these would also make really cute "Neapolitan" macarons if you filled them with white vanilla buttercream instead of ganache and strawberry jam.  But I also feel that the ganache and strawberry filling bring out the flavors of the shells. 

      I'm sorry to say I don't really know how the flavors turned out.  As I said, I brought these to cooking club and they just vanished.  I had some extras in my fridge, but those disappeared too.  My family just doesn't understand that macarons need to mature in the fridge for a couple of days before you eat them.  I heard that they were good, though.  And I'm sure they are; I've never had a bad macaron.
This is how the batter should look.

     If you want some macaron tips, basically this is it:
  • bake one sheet at a time on new, unused parchment paper
  • don't over-mix or under-mix (follow directions)
  • make precise measurements with a kitchen scale (I actually bought by first scale for the sole purpose of making macarons, so you should too.  You can get a cheap one for 5 bucks at Target) 
  • let the macarons sit on the baking sheet after you pipe them for about half an hour to prevent cracking
  • after you fill the macarons, let them sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days so that the flavors can develop more
  • have fun and don't worry too much
  • see here for more detailed step-by-step pictures of the process
      I hope you enjoy!

Strawberry Chocolate Macarons

makes about 30 assembled macarons
recipe adapted from Tartlette and Chocoparis


For the strawberry shells:
90g egg whites (about 3) 
30g granulated sugar
200g  powdered sugar
110g ground almonds/ almond flour
1/2 cup (7g) dehydrated strawberries, crumbled to a fine powder
pink food coloring
For the Chocolate Shells:
90 grams (3 ounces) of egg whites (equal to whites of 3 large eggs), at room temperature
125 grams (4 ½ ounces) of ground almonds or almond flour
125 grams (4 ½ ounces) of icing sugar
25 grams (1 ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder 
125 grams (4 ½ ounces) of caster sugar (aka superfine sugar, or regular sugar pulsed in a blender for a few seconds)
For the filling:
6oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
strawberry jam (I used the strawberry balsamic jam I made)


Prepare the strawberry macarons: in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue with soft peaks.  Stir in the food coloring until evenly incorporated. Sift together the almonds, powdered sugar, reserved powdered strawberries. Add it to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. 
Preheat the oven to 280F and position a rack in the center. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool.
Prepare the chocolate macarons: Sift together the almond flour or ground almonds, icing sugar, and cocoa powder; set aside. Beat the egg whites with a bit of the superfine sugar for a few seconds until foamy.  Whip the egg whites on high speed, gradually adding the rest of the superfine sugar, until the meringue has soft peaks when you lift out the beaters.  Fold in the dry ingredients until the batter drips from the spatula like a ribbon.  Pipe the batter into rounds on clean parchment lined baking sheets.  Let the batter rounds sit for about half an hour until the surface is dry and firm.  Bake at 325*F for 12 to 14 minutes and let cool.
Fill.  Make the ganache by boiling the heavy cream, then pouring the cream over the chocolate in a small bowl.  Whisk until the chocolate is all melted and let cool until the ganache is thick.  Pipe some jam into the middle of one macaron shell.  Pipe the ganache around the jam and press another shell on top.  Repeat for the rest of the macarons.  Keep the macarons in an airtight container and refrigerate for a few days before serving so that the flavors can develop.  

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