Sugarbird's Sweet Nothings

I am passionate about food. And cooking. And baking. And running. Come and find a new recipe, a funny story, some strong opinions and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix today.
Published on October 11th, 2010
by Clarabella

Macaroons – Take II

I will rarely admit it, but I don’t like being beaten at anything. Or by anything. So the last time I attempted Macarooons (and failed miserably) is a thorn in my side. It is a little black cloud of disaster that I can’t escape.

Ok. Maybe I take this far too seriously. But I love my baking that much, and I care that I can (should) do this one thing in my life reasonably successfully, that I cannot help taking a miserable failure very personally. So, last week it was time for Macaroons Take II. And who did I turn to? The famed David Lebovitz. Rumours online have it that he is the king of ice cream and the master of patisserie. So who better to turn to for Macaroon salvation?

Being a mild chocaholic I decided on the chocolate macaroons with chocolate ganache filling. How wrong can you go with all that chocolate?

The last time that I attempted the macaroon my mixture was rather sloppy. Runny. Gooey. It flowed rather than piped. Messy & not remotely pretty. But this time I was sure that I had nailed it. I had a firm mixture that was a pleasure to pipe, and pipe I did. Lots of little macaroons onto my baking sheets. Then into the oven and could barely bring myself to watch as they cooked.

I cannot say that they were perfect. In fact, out of the entire batch of around 4 dozen macaroons, there were only 2 non-cracked ones that I could sandwich together to make one lonely little perfect macaroon. But one is more than none, and although the rest cracked, they tasted – delicious. The perfect mix of crisp outside and a tiny bit chewy on the inside. Why did they crack? Who knows. Was my harsh fan oven too much for their delicate nature? Should they have been left to sit for a couple of hours before being cooked so that their outsides could dry and remain intact? David Lebovitz said that this was not necessary, and the fact that I did have 2 little perfect ones means that there was a tiny percentage of perfectness in the mix somewhere.

But at least I no longer feel beaten by the macaroon demon. We have waged war again and it was more a draw this time than a bitter defeat. Not yet the resounding success that I can one day hope for, but better than it was. Baby steps.

Today I have the pleasure of facing this months daring bakers challenge, so on with the apron, the smile and the determination. Kick butt baking here I come.

Chocolate Macarons
Makes about fifteen cookies
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway) by David Lebovitz
Macaron Batter
1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar
Chocolate Filling
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
4 ounces (120 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 gr) butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.
Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten themacarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.
To make the chocolate filling:
Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.
Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macarons then sandwich them together. (You can pipe the filling it, but I prefer to spread it by hand; it’s more fun, I think.)
I also tend to overfill them so you may or may not use all the filling.
Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macarons soggy.