Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Macarons

The Chocolate Show has been in New York for the past few days, so I thought it fitting to dedicate this week’s blog post to something that even chocolate purists would love: classic chocolate macarons. I don’t claim to be a macaron expert – I haven’t exactly 

perfected my technique, and chocolate macarons can be especially tricky for some reason. I prefer to make a French (as opposed to Italian or Swiss) meringue for my batter, which is a bit less stable. A pastry chef who worked for Laduree for several years recently told 

me to try making them with an Italian meringue, and to use it while the meringue is still hot. This, he explained, is very stable and gives you the added bonus of a shorter drying time for the piped macarons. I will try that next time, but for now, my slightly 

imperfect macarons will have to do. I sprinkled the tops of each with cacao nibs, which are a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweet macarons, and add a pleasant crunch. The filling is a classic ganache, and can be tailored to your taste by your choice of the cacao percentage of your dark chocolate. Because the macarons are sweet, a high percentage chocolate is ideal here (around 70%), particularly if you want to maximize the chocolate punch.

Chocolate Macarons

Makes about 24 macarons

Chocolate Ganache Filling:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (61 to 70%, depending on your taste), finely chopped
½ cup (4 oz) heavy cream
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Chocolate Macarons:
4 tablespoons (25 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (check gram amount)
2/3 cup (66 g) almond flour or meal
1 ¼ cups (150 g) confectioners’ sugar
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
7 Tbs (87 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cacao nibs for top of macarons

Make the ganache:
1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Place the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate in the bowl. Let stand for 1 minute to melt the chocolate and gently whisk until smooth and emulsified. Whisk in the vanilla, then the butter pieces, until they are completely melted. Cover the surface of the ganache with plastic wrap and set aside until cool. (The filling should be spreadable when cool; if it’s a little soft, regrigerate it for 10 minutes or so before using.)

Make the macarons:
3. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
4. In a food processor, process the cocoa powder and almond flour with the confectioners’ sugar until well blended. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Very gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and beat until blended.
6. Add half of the sifted almond mixture and fold it in with a spatula. Add the remaining almond mixture and mix it in a light circular motion. Press and spread out the batter against the side of the bowl. Scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl and turn it upside down. Repeat this motion about 15 times. When the batter becomes nicely firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with the spatula, it is ready to be piped.
7. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Fit a pastry bag with a .4-inch plain tip (Ateco #4). Scrape the batter into the bag. Pipe out 1-inch rounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them ½ inch apart. Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Top each macaron with a few cacao nibs. Dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes. The batter circles should not stick to your finger when you touch them. If they do, let them dry a little longer.
8. Stack the baking sheet with the macarons on it on another baking sheet. Place both sheets, stacked, in the oven and bake the macarons for about 12 minutes, until slightly crisp (they will crisp more upon cooling). Cool completely on a wire rack.

Assemble the macarons:
9. Scrape the ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a .4 inch plain tip (Ateco #4, the same size as you used to pipe the macarons). Pipe a grape-sized dollop of ganache onto the underside of a macaron. Gently press the underside of another macaron against the ganache until it spreads almost to the edge. Repeat with the remaining macarons and ganache. Store the macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.