I apologize that these photos are not the best. I took these with the flash after midnight. I just couldn't wait until daylight to share these with you!
Tonight I made my second attempt at baking Chocolate French Macarons. My first attempt this past weekend was semi-successful. My macarons formed the coveted "feet" but following the baking time in David Lebovitz's recipe (15-18 minutes at 375 degrees) led my macarons to have a crunchy, solid texture. The perfect macaron has a crisp exterior and a soft interior. For my second attempt this evening, I used all the same techniques of my first attempt but followed Tartelette's suggestion (click for the PDF of Tartelette's Demystifying Macarons from Desserts Magazine) for how long--and at what temperature--to bake the macarons (10-12 minutes at 300 degrees). The result was perfection!
If are familiar with the popularity of the macaron among internet bakers, you are probably aware of the difficulty these little cookies give many bakers. While they only require a handful of ingredients, the success of the macaron is all in the execution. Egg whites must be aged and whipped to perfection, almonds must be ground to oblivion and the two must be married with the perfect amount of folding-not too many folds and certainly not too few. There are many ways these little cookies can go awry. Many bakers swear by the aid of a kitchen scale when baking macarons as the exact portion of ingredients is crucial to their success. I chose to use David Lebovitz's recipe for my macaron baking adventure simply because it was one of the only reputable sources I could find with a recipe for these cute treats that didn't require weight measurements. I, unfortunately, don't own a kitchen scale and therefore was afraid to try baking these for years. I had intended to take the plunge and try my hand at them last winter but never got around to it. I am so glad I finally tried these! Having done much research online, reading tips and techniques, I now feel fairly confident in my ability to bake macarons. The technique is surprising simply if you are cautious and utilize the many helpful tips out there. I would still like to get a kitchen scale before I venture into trying other macaron recipes. I am dying to bake some pretty pastel versions such as these gorgeous rose-infused white chocolate ganache macarons.
These are actually the first French Macarons I have ever eaten. Starbucks is apparently carrying them for a limited time this holiday season and I'd like to get my hands on some as a comparison. I really have no reference for what they are supposed to taste like, but mine certainly were delicious! They have a perfectly strong chocolate flavor but, having used semi-sweet chocolate for the ganache, they certainly aren't too sweet. They would be heavenly paired with a cup of coffee. When you bit into them, the crisp shell of the macaron gives way to a soft, smooth center and a thick layer of creamy ganache. What could be better?
I am so excited about the macaron baking adventure I'm setting off on. There are so many flavors and colors to create! The possibilities are endless.
Chocolate French Macarons
adapted from David Lebovitz and Tartelette
makes 12-15 macarons
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, aged* at room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
Draw 1-inch to 1.5-inch circles about 2 inches apart on parchment paper. Turn parchment paper with circles on bottom, and line a baking sheet. Fit a pastry bag with a round tip (about 1/2-inch in diameter).
Grind together the powdered sugar, almonds and cocoa in a food processor until no lumps remain. Sift mixture to make sure all lumps are completely removed.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a plastic or metal bowl), beat the room temperature egg whites until they begin to foam and rise. Continue whipping, beating in the granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time until the egg whites are very stiff and do not move when the bowl is turned upside down, about 2 minutes.
Add the powdered almond mixture to the meringue mixture and begin folding the mixtures together using a flexible rubber spatula. Begin to fold quickly, but slow down after the mixture begins to come together. The whole process should take 30-50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the peak flattens on its own, you are good to go. If there is a small peak, give the batter a couple more folds and test again.
Transfer batter to the pastry bag. Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheet inside the circles, just until the batter reaches the edge of the circles. Rap the baking sheet a few times on the counter to flatten the macarons and remove any air bubbles. Let them sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until a skin forms (you will be able to touch the macarons without any batter sticking to your finger). While the macarons are resting, preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Place macarons in the top 1/3 of your oven. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. You should notice that within the first 5 minutes of baking, your macarons will form the coveted feet!
Let the macarons cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet. Pair like-size macarons for sandwiching.
To make the ganache:
Heat heavy cream and semi-sweet chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave. It should take 1-2 minutes for the chocolate to completely melt. Stop and stir the ganache every 15-20 seconds, stopping once the chocolate is melted. Stir ganache until chocolate is completely incorporated into the cream. Once smooth, leave your ganache to firm up at room temperature.
Once firm but smooth, spoon the ganache onto the bottom of a macaron, sandwiching it with another. Alternatively, you could pipe the ganache onto the macarons for a cleaner look.
Store any leftover macarons in an air-tight container at room temperature.
*To age egg whites, separate them from the yolks and store them, covered at room temperature for 1-2 days before using. After 2 days, store the egg whites in the fridge, making sure to bring them back to room temperature before whipping them for the macarons.