The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S of Baking Without Fear. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
I love macarons! They are one of the first things I eat when I go to Paris. I love how cute, small and slightly sugary they are. They are perfect with an espresso or even on their own. You can go simple and refined or out of this world crazy with flavor combinations.
I have been trying to perfect the macaron for about 3 years now, two of those have been public. I keep thinking that ‘someday’ it will happen. As soon as I saw this month’s challenge, I started the process of planning the flavors I wanted to attempt. I always have a million different ideas and always attempt too many at one time. Since I am in the ‘perfecting’ mode, I decided I had to stick to one flavor; trust me it was hard to hold myself to this plan!
I started the macaron process on Friday, by separating my eggs and letting them sit out. I normally let them sit out for 24 hours, even though the recipe said for 5 hours, I still went with the full 24. I felt very good about this come Saturday morning. I slightly toasted my almonds and hazelnuts, cooled them, and then turned them into flour. My meringues started out soft and by the end of the beating, they were glossy and stiff. I folded the nut flour, sugar and coco into the whites and the batter was perfect. Even the piping process was ‘perfect’. I felt good. Then I slide them into the oven, took a couple peeks and nothing. Not a foot, leg, nor a crack or the ever so famous dreidel that mine usually have. These were the flattest batch of macarons I had ever seen. Now, even though, I was disappointed, I did not give up. I tried again and once again …. flat!
By this time I was in the mind frame of macarons and damn it, we were going to have macarons. I had the perfect flavor combination and I HAD to make them, I just had, too! So, I walked down to the market, picked up more eggs, separated them, set them aside and pulled out another recipe. Yes, I broke the rules & I am sorry Ami, I just had to perfect this mission. I chose one of Aran’s recipes. I admire Aran and the wonderful sweet delights she shares with us. I have never tried her macaron recipes but decided to give it a try.
I turned on some Sia, made a latte, cut my parchment paper and started the process. Once again, everything went very smoothly and the beginning stage of the macarons looked, well, perfect. At this point I figured anything could go right or wrong. I slide them into the oven and set the timer for 8 minutes; I did not peek, I continued working and waited. “ding” …. I slowly opened the oven door, and I was *smiles* from ear to ear, I had FEET and I had damn good looking FEET!
Now … it was not the original recipe that the Daring Bakers were suppose to use, yes, I cheated; but, I had some near perfect macarons and I was happy!
Recipe: Dark Chocolate Macarons with Bittersweet Ancho Chili Ganache
8 ounces whole raw almonds
8 ounces whole hazelnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
100 grams egg whites
25 grams sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon creme of tarter
200 grams powdered sugar
125 grams mixed nut flour, I used half hazelnuts and half almonds
15 grams scharffen berger (or really good) cocoa powder
pinch of salt
Prepare the nut flour by grinding the nuts with 1 cup of powdered sugar, in a food processor until the consistency of flour. You will need to pulse the food processor and run it, then pulse and then run. *I did toast my nuts beforehand and let cool completely before grinding.
Separate the egg whites and let them sit at room temperature for 24 hours before starting to make the macarons.
Preheat oven to 300. Whip the egg whites and creme of tarter until they are foamy. Sprinkle in the sugar while still mixing. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Sift the powdered sugar, salt, nut flour and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add to the meringue and fold until a shiny mass comes together. ill a pastry bag with a number 806 tip. Pipe the macarons onto parchment paper. Let the macarons dry at room temperature for 30 minutes (Aran suggests 20, I lost track of time). Bake them for 8 minutes, rotate the baking pan and bake for another 8 minutes. Cool. Remover from parchment and fill with your favorite filling.
Recipe: Bittersweet Ancho Chili Ganache
200 ml heavy cream
200 g scharffen berger bittersweet chocolate broken into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried ancho chili powder
Bring cream to a boil. Put chocolate into a mixing bowl and pour the cream over the top. Let sit for a couple minutes. Stir until melted. Add the ancho chili powder, stir well. Let sit in the refridgerator for at least an hour before using.