Macaroons are really hard.
When I explain how I made them, I’m going to gloss over the two trays of baked chocolate macaroon mix slabs and the awful brownish, peachy coloured and undercooked macaroon mishaps…and go straight to the lightly crisped, gooey centred chocolate macaroons, fit to burst with piped ganache that were completely scrummy and perfect. In fact, as it turned out, the two slabs of macaroon were fine for eating too as my friend Ally demonstrated by picking off pieces throughout the afternoon.
So, for my glorious macaroons I used my fancy Ladurée recipe book ‘Sucre – The Recipes’. It’s fabulous and French and everything inside is beautiful.
To make 25 chocolate macaroons you will need the following –
A big bag of patience
260g of ground almonds
250g of icing sugar
15g of cocoa powder
65g of chocolate so dark that not even light can escape
7 egg whites (a lot I know, but it will be worth it)
210g of granulated sugar
And a piping bag with a small nozzle. If you have disposable bags you can just snip a very small piece off the end.
To make the ganache, finely chop the dark chocolate and place in a large glass bowl. The smaller the pieces the better as it’s much easier to melt down later on.
In a heavy based saucepan, gently bring the cream to the boil being careful not to burn it. When the cream has bubbled for about 25 to 30 seconds, pour it directly over the chocolate pieces, stirring the chocolate as you pour. It’s best to pour the cream over in stages as this ensures the chocolate melts evenly and without lumps. Whilst still stirring, add the butter cubes to the mix and combine until everything is melted together.
When the mix is smooth and glossy, pour into a baking dish and cover with cling film. Let it cool down before moving it into the fridge to firm up. That really was the easy part.
For the macaroons you need to give yourself plenty of time. There are a few stages to this recipe and they can’t be rushed. You will need a few mixing bowls to hand, one of which has to be glass to begin the first stage of macaroon making. Place the glass bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt the dark chocolate.
Whilst this is melting, sift together the almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder into a separate bowl.
In a third clean and grease free bowl, use a hand whisk to whip up 6 egg whites. When they get frothy, add a few spoonful’s of the sugar and continue to whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Repeat this another 2 or 3 times until all of the sugar has been used and has dissolved into the egg whites. By this time, they’ll look quite meringuey and will hold soft peaks.
Into the whipped whites pour the melted chocolate and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula until fully combined. Then lightly fold in the almond mix.
The batter will be quite dry at this stage so use half of the 7th egg white, lightly beaten until frothy, to make it less firm and more like a very thick cake batter suitable for piping.
Load up the piping bag with the chocolate mix and pipe small rounds about 4cm wide onto two lined baking trays. You’re aiming for about 50 of these. My first mistake was creating huge rounds with loads of mixture piled high which then melted outwards and stuck to one another. Be sure to leave room for the macaroons to spread a little.
Once they are piped, hold the baking tray just above the work surface and drop it back down. Leave for about 10 minutes for a soft skin to form on top of the macaroon shells, then bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Let them cool slightly before peeling away the baking paper. The tip in the recipe book was to pour a small amount of water underneath the baking paper to help the shells come away more easily – I thought this worked really well.
Pipe of spread the ganache over half of the shells before joining them up with their non-ganache topped friends.