Saturday, July 26, 2014

Almond Chocolate Macarons

My latest batch of French macarons are filled with lightly sweet almond buttercream and a generous dollop of dark chocolate.

I don't know why it took me so long to make a macaron with an almond filling? An almond filling should have been an obvious choice because the shells are made with ground almonds.

I tinted the filling with a touch of blue coloring and kept the shells natural. I like the simple look of these and I love how they taste.

Here's the recipe:

Almond Chocolate Macarons
 180g ground almonds, sifted
270g powdered sugar, sifted
150g egg whites, aged 2 to 4 days in the fridge and then brought to room temperature
100g granulated sugar

Line four heavy baking sheets with good quality parchment paper and set aside. Also, set aside two pastry bags for the piping of the macarons.

Sift together your ground almonds with the powdered sugar and set aside.

Whisk the egg whites (at room temperature) to glossy firm peaks adding the granulated sugar gradually in four parts.

Incorporate the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites using a large rubber scraper.  Mix well. 

Fold the mixture with the rubber scraper by pulling down the sides and flipping the mixture over. Do this until you have a smooth mixture that falls like a “ribbon” off the scraper.

Transfer the mixture into the two piping bags. Use rubber bands to close the piping bags. Clip the tip of the bags, one at a time, and pipe small quarter sized rounds, leaving 1-inch of space between each because they spread as they set.

Leave to set for about 30 minutes or until the top has formed a crust and is not sticky to the touch.

While they are setting, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. A convection oven is preferable. 

Bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven for about 12 minutes or until the cookie is firm, matte and doesn't wobble when touched.

Leave on the baking tray until cool then lift them all off the parchment carefully. You may need to use a thin knife to help lift them off.

Sort into pairs and fill with a dollop of dark chocolate and Almond Buttercream.

Almond Buttercream:
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of fine sea salt
Blue coloring (optional)

Place the whites in a clean mixing bowl. Whisk in sugar and cream of tartar.

Place bowl over a double boiler on medium heat, stir frequently until the mixture is very hot (120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit).

Move to mixer and whip whites on high for 2 to 3 minutes; turn down to medium low until cool (use the bowl as your guide).

In a separate bowl with a wooden spoon, stir butter to soften.

With mixer on medium/high speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, adding the next tablespoon just as the previous one is blended in. Once all the butter incorporated, add in the extracts and sea salt. Add coloring if desired. 
Whip until light and fluffy.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag.

Chocolate Filling:
Place 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)  in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwaave and stir. Keep microwaving for 10 to 20 second sessions and stirring until the chocolate is melted. Stir in 1/8 of a cup of chocolate chips and stir until the chips are melted. This is called seeding and tempers the chocolate. Let the chocolate cool just for a bit before transferring to a piping bag.
If you don't have a piping bag, you could add the chocolate with a teaspoon but the bag makes the task so easy. I like to use disposable piping bags.

To assemble:
Flip one of the macarons from each pair over and add a dollop the the dark chocolate. Let this set up for a bit before adding a dollop of buttercream and sandwiching the macarons together. Store the macarons in the refrigerator. Macarons are best made a day or two ahead of time and then brought to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

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