You’ve probably heard of them by now, those little pastel coloured almond biscuits from France with a name that reminds you of your favourite pasta dish often filled with strange and interesting creams, compotes and caramels. They have been trendy for years and there might be quite a few reasons why. They’re small (so you can eat more of them), they’re cute with their feet and colours, they were featured in that Marie Antoinette movie and I guess the fact that they are finicky to make and awfully expensive in the shops that sells them make people covet them.
Personally I enjoy making them because I like to think of new flavour combinations and I enjoy watching their little feet rise in the oven; it makes me feel skilled. Of course, Keith think they are over rated, but what does he know?
I’ve made macarons many times, but it hasn’t always been easy. I remember spending lots of time mixing the almonds and the sugar together, whisking the egg whites and folding the batter just to get macarons that looked perfect but that were hollow on the inside. That’s pretty much why I didn’t make any for almost two years, but then I came across this guide from Bravetart, where I also found the recipe that I used, and I thought I should try it again. Turned out I just had to bake them for a bit longer, although I baked them a little bit too long this time, but it’s better to over bake macarons than to under bake them because once you’ve filled them they start to absorb the filling a little bit and then they actually get moister and better with time.
I got some Artisan du Chocolat chocolates from Keith as a Christmas present, and the ganache in them was really tasty. It melted really fast on your tongue and was slightly shiny so I thought they’ve used a butter ganache instead of a normal cream one. Inspired by that I made a filling for my macarons consisting of butter, chocolate and strawberry jam. It turned out a bit too buttery but with a nice subtle flavour of strawberry. It’s not perfect but it was the first time I’ve made butter ganache.
Don’t be scared to try these, they’re very fun to make once you’ve figured everything out. If you can find it then I recommend that you use almond flour instead of grinding/mixing your own, it speeds everything up a lot. I made half a batch of Bravetart’s recipe and I got 15 macarons from it, if you want to make the full batch then remember to double the ingredients.
Edit: As you can see in the photos the butter ganache split. After reading Peter Greweling’s book about chocolate I realize that you need to temper butter ganache. You can still make it using the recipe on my blog because it’s still tasty but it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re a perfectionist.
Chocolate strawberry macarons
58 g almond flour
115 g icing sugar
72 g egg whites
36 g sugar
Half a vanilla pod
1 g salt
Strawberry butter ganache:
105 g dark chocolate
33 g butter
53 g strawberry jam
Chop the chocolate coarsely. Melt the butter and mix in the chocolate until it’s all melted. Stir in the jam and cover the saucepan with cling film. Let it cool down in room temperature for a few hours until it’s set.
Put the oven on 150 degrees C (125 if you’re using a convection oven). Sift the almond flour together with the icing sugar and add the vanilla and the salt. Whisk the egg whites until they are foamy and slowly add the sugar (Bravetart says that you don’t need to be gentle with the sugar but it’d feel wrong to just dump the sugar into the egg whites). Whisk for what feels like ages until you have a very firm meringue, then add colouring if you want any and whisk some more. Now, take a spatula and fold in the icing sugar and the almond flour. This can be tricky, you don’t want to fold too much because then the batter will be too runny and you don’t want to fold too little because then the macarons wont be very pretty. Many people say that the batter should be like lava and if you spoon some batter back into the bowl it should sink back within twenty seconds. All done? Put the batter in a piping bag with a big round tip and pipe the batter into little circles (mine were about four centimetres) on greaseproof paper. Bravetart says that there’s no need to let the macarons rest before you put them in the oven but that’s what I’ve always done so let them sit on the kitchen counter for an hour or so. Bake them for 14-18 minutes, they should come off the paper fairly easily and not stick to the paper. Let them cool and fill with the chocolate-strawberry filling.