The October Daring Bakers’ challenge is being brought to you by Ami S of Baking Without Fear. She picked macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern, as the challenge recipe. I was really excited as I not only love to eat macarons but I also love to bake them. I find it thrilling to wonder if this recipe will work when baked and that is a huge challenge for me. I decided to spice up the traditional chocolate macron by making Bittersweet Chocolate with Ancho Chili Ganache Macarons. These macarons are sultry, spicy and a little bit sweet.
I love macarons so much, and they are one of the first things I eat when I am in 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 like I have done with this recipe.
I have been trying to perfect the macaron for almost 3 years now and I keep thinking “someday it will happen, practice makes perfect”. As soon as I saw this month’s challenge, I started the process of picking out the flavors I wanted to attempt. I always have a million different ideas which leads to me trying to make too many at one time. Since I am in the ‘perfecting’ mode, I decided I had to stick to one flavor this time.
I started the macaron process on Friday, by separating my eggs and letting them age for 24 hours. I felt very good about my Saturday morning baking session and could not wait to start. I lightly toasted my almonds and hazelnuts, cooled them, and then turned them into flour. My meringues started out soft and by the end of mixing, they were glossy and stiff. I folded the nut flour, sugar and cocoa into the whites and the batter was perfect. Even the piping process was ‘perfect’. I felt good. Then I slide the macarons 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. Even though, I was disappointed, I did not give up. I tried, tried, and tried again.
By this time I was in the mind frame of the perfect macarons and damn it, we were going to have macarons. I had the perfect flavor combination and I HAD to make them. 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 grabbed another recipe and got to work.
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!
Note this is not the original recipe that the Daring Bakers were supposed to use, yes, I cheated; but, I had near perfect macarons and I was happy!
Food Processor – to make nut flour
Pastry Bag with a #806 tip
Baking Scale to measure grams
Be sure to age the egg whites for 24 hours. This bit of aging makes the difference between a good and great macaron as it helps stabilize the meringue.
If you want to use store bought nut flour you can; but, I have found that making my own produces a thicker batter that is not overly wet. If the base is too wet the macaron will not have feet. Bonus lightly toasting the nuts makes the flour more flavorful.
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 granulated 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 high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
Separate the egg whites and let them sit at room temperature for 24 hours before starting to make the macarons.
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.
Preheat oven to 300.
Whip the egg whites and creme of tartar until they are foamy.
Sprinkle in the granulated sugar while still mixing. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
Sift the powdered sugar, salt, nut flour, and cocoa powder into a bowl. I use a fine sieve.
Add the nut flour mixture to the meringue and fold until a shiny mass comes together.
Fill a pastry bag with a number 806 tip. Pipe the macarons onto parchment paper.
Let the macarons dry at room temperature for 30 minutes .
Bake them for 8 minutes, rotate the baking pan and bake for another 8 minutes.
Remove from parchment and fill.
Bittersweet Ancho Chili Ganache
200 ml heavy cream
200 g bittersweet chocolate broken into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried ancho chili powder
Bring cream to a boil.
Place the 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 refrigerator for at least an hour before using.