Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Macarons

December's busy schedule is catching up with me as I desperately try to catch up on holiday baking before everyone leaves on holiday. I had 8 egg whites leftover from another recipe that I'd stored in the freezer and then defrosted, so I decided it was time to tackle macarons (aged egg whites are apparently key because they have less moisture). I made 2 attempts ... the second using more food colouring and peppermint extract. Neither was perfect, but at least both sets had feet!
I found an amazing recipe source online (with video!) that I tweaked only slightly. I added some peppermint extract and green food colouring to the outside to make it a little more Christmas-y. I increased the powdered sugar by 10g and decreased the ground almond by 10g, because ground almonds are sold in 100g packages here. I substituted dark chocolate for the milk chocolate in the filling ganache to make the taste a little more grown up. Finally, I didn't let the finalized macarons sit for 24 hours because I didn't see those instructions until it was too late. The finished product wasn't perfect, but people did seem to appreciate them, so I'd encourage you to give these a shot!

One Year Ago: A less festive dessert, Espresso Chiffon Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting

Christmas Macarons (adapted from Daydreamer Desserts)

Macaron Shell
90 grams egg whites
210 grams powdered sugar (see notes above)
100 grams ground almonds (see notes above)
25 grams granulated sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
green food colouring

1. In a bowl whisk together the powdered sugar and ground almonds. Sift through a sieve twice and set aside.
2. With a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until they appear foamy, approximately 30 seconds. While the mixer is running carefully pour in the granulated sugar in a slow stream and continue beating the whites on high until they reach a consistency similar to that of shaving cream.
3. Add in peppermint extract and green food colouring (10 drops or so until the shade is right) and beat until mixed in (the second time around, I added this too early and couldn't get the right consistency, I think this is the right point to add it, but feel free to experiment).
4. Be careful not to over-beat, or the meringue will be too dry.
5. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the meringue all at once. Begin folding, continue folding until the batter resembles a thick pancake batter. The folding should not take more than 50 strokes.
6. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit.
7. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
8. When ready, bake for approximately 16-17 minutes, depending on the macaron size they might require a longer baking time. Allow them to cool, then transfer to a wire rack.

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 ounces dark chocolate

1. Heat heavy cream and chocolate in a small dish in the microwave. Stir until melted completely. The original suggests chilling in the fridge, but I find it makes the ganache too difficult to spread later and just allow it to chill on the counter (my apartment is fairly cool this time of year!).

Assembly (I didn't follow these, but they're all good ideas!)
1. Place ganache in a piping bag fitted with a small star tip and pipe ganache onto your macaron shells. (or spread with a knife)
2. Sandwich macaron shells together, place them in a sealed container in the refrigerator and let them rest for at least 24 hours.
3. Remove macarons from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving, and enjoy withing 7 days after making them.

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