Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Macaron Assortment Tip And The Recipe For Raspberry Dark Chocolate Macarons

Raspberry Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Lemon Macarons look great together and make a nice assortment for an event. Why? — Because the flavors aren't too similar and the colors compliment each other.
When I'm asked to make an assortment of macarons for an event, my motto is always "small selection but wide variety."

Too many flavors to choose from overwhelms guests because they can't try everything and they have difficulty deciding what to pick. Too many flavors is also hard on the host who needs to know and describe the choices. You don't want to have to keep note cards on what you are serving.

My preference is to limit macaron assortments to five flavors, but I think three is really ideal.

That said, I then aim for a "wide variety," meaning I want to choose three or five flavors that are completely different from one another, so there is something for everyone. For instance, I would never make raspberry, strawberry and cherry together or coconut, hazelnut and almond. These are way to similar flavor and color wise too. Contrasting colors make for a much better presentation.

When choosing what to make, I consider these categories: Berry, Citrus, Chocolate, Nut, Caramel, Coffee and Exotic, the latter is flavors like lavender, rose, green tea and  rosemary olive oil. It's also fun to also mix these categories up like Espresso Hazelnut Macarons or Raspberry Dark Chocolate Macarons, which I made for a recent event.

In addition to the Raspberry Dark Chocolate Macarons,  I made Lemon and Salted Caramel. The flavors are different and the colors are contrasting and look vibrant together.

I've already posted the recipes for Lemon and Salted Caramel Macarons, but the Raspberry Dark Chocolate ones are a completely new creation. I've made chocolate shells filled with raspberry buttercream before but these are raspberry colored shells filled with both a dollop of dark Belgian chocolate and a raspberry buttercream.

Here's the recipe:

Raspberry Dark 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
Fuschia gel coloring
Red gel coloring

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. Add the coloring as desired. I added about 1 part fuschia to 2 parts red. Remember that the color lightens during baking so tint them a bit darker than you want them to turn out.

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.

Piped macarons.
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 10 to 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 or spatula to help lift them off.

Sort into pairs and fill with Melted Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Buttercream.
The macarons sorted into pairs and ready for filling. This is a single batch!

Raspberry Buttercream
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup Crofter's Raspberry Spread or another high-quality low-sugar raspberry preserve
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Just 3 drops of Raspberry Flavor (I used LorAnn brand)

Whip the butter until it is light and smooth. Add the jam, sea salt and raspberry flavor.

Whip this together until the filling is light and creamy. When you first start whipping the ingredients together, it will look like a curdled mess, but don't panic. The filling will eventually come together and be beautiful. Just whip it and whip it good!

Dark 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.)

1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips 
Place 1 cup of the dark 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. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of chips and stir until they are completely melted. Let the chocolate cool for an extra 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 at least 15 minutes before proceeding.

Add a dollop of Raspberry Buttercream on top of the chocolate and sandwich the pairs carefully together. 
Adding the dollop of dark chocolate.

After you add the buttercream, the macarons are ready to be gently sandwiched together.

All done!

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