Friday, March 13, 2015

Chocolate Mint Macarons

Delicious and addicting Girl Scout Thin Mints are what inspired me to create these Chocolate Mint Macarons.

When I handed one to my nephew Sam to taste and told him what my inspiration was, he carefully examined the macaron, took a bite and said, "You nailed it Heidi." Sam is so nice and encouraging!

The filling is a layer of Belgian dark chocolate and a layer of peppermint buttercream that's not too heavy handed with the peppermint extract and also contains just a touch of vanilla. The resulting macarons are chocolatey, minty and creamy all at once.

For the macaron shells, I used natural almond meal which is different from the almond meal I normally use in that it contains the skin of the almonds. I think the flecks of skin actually look nice and make the cookies resemble speckled eggs. 

The almond meal I used.

The almond meal before sifting. You can see there's a lot of skin in there.

Piped macaron shells. I really like how these look.

 I know I say it just about every time I come up with a new recipe but this is my new favorite flavor.

Another bonus is that unlike Girl Scout Thin Mints which are only sold for a few weeks a year,  you can make and enjoy these year-round.

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Mint 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
food coloring (I used teal)

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.  Towards the end of mixing, add the food coloring and tint the batter as desired.

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.

 The macarons resting before baking.
The macarons after baking.
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 Mint Buttercream and Chocolate Filling.

Mint Buttercream
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
food coloring, optional

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on high speed until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. This takes about 5 minutes. Tint the filling if desired, I used teal and transfer it to a piping bag for filling the macarons.

Chocolate Filling:
(note: make this only when your macarons are sorted, flipped over and ready for filling. Once you melt the chocolate there's no time to waste, you've got to be ready to go.)
Place 1 cup of chocolate chips (I used Belgian dark chocolate) in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir. Keep microwaving for 10 to 20 second sessions and stirring until the chocolate is melted. Let the chocolate cool for a minute or two before transferring to a piping bag.

To Assemble:

Sort your macarons into pairs and flip both over. Starting with the chocolate, pipe a dollop on the back of one macaron from each of the pairs. Don't go too close to the edge or it will spill over. Let the chocolate firm and cool for about 10 minutes before proceeding.

Add a dollop of mint buttercream to the remaining macarons and sandwich the pairs carefully together. Don't press to hard or the chocolate will flow out and make a mess.
Filling the macarons.
Macaron closeup.

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