Chocolate Macaron Tutorial

IMG_2738

I like macarons. But I think they’re grossly overpriced in shops. Also there’s this fear amongst budding bakers that they’re terribly expensive or complicated to make. Not true. Not expensive to make. Not really complicated either. With Macarons, you need to be willing to fail a few times to get it right. The steps are incredibly simple but there is a large element of look and feel when making these, which is why practice is key.

I’ve tried to make this as detailed as possible so it should work well if you follow the instructions.

A few tips before you begin:

  1.  Don’t buy crazily expensive ingredients. Especially when you’re just starting out. You will fail a few times so don’t go buying organic, hand fed, gold encrusted chicken eggs or some silly stuff like that. Tesco’s range or Lidl/ Aldi stuff works fine. Even cheaper if you buy stuff in large quantities.
  2. You don’t need any special or aged egg whites. I usually run to the shop, grab a cheap box and bake away. As long as the whites are not cold, you’re good to go!
  3. Don’t get too carried away blending and sieving a million times. I never blend and only sieve the ingredients all together, once.
  4. Don’t spend money on specialised equipment. Macaron mats, squeeze bottles, etc, are unnecessary. Print out a good macaron template (like this or this or this) as a guide to piping your rounds, always use baking/parchment paper on a baking sheet and you can even use a freezer bag with the corner snipped off to pipe.
  5. When you start getting adventurous with flavours and colours, avoid liquids or use as little as possible. You can buy amazing freeze dried fruit powder online & use gel/powdered colouring.
  6. Measure out all your ingredients and have all equipment ready to go.

Righteo, let’s get started.

Chocolate Macarons Filled with Dark Chocolate Ganache 

(makes about 20 sandwiched macarons)

You’ll need:

  • 1 hand / stand mixer
  • Two or three baking sheets
  • A rubber spatula or wooden spoon
  • Baking / parchment paper
  • A piping bag / freezer bag
  • 2 medium mixing bowls
  • 1 sieve
  • Weighing scale
  • Small saucepan for ganache

For Macarons

  • 2 medium egg whites
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 50g granulated sugar

For Chocolate Ganache

  • 120g dark chocolate chopped to pieces (about 50% cocoa content)
  • 120ml double cream
  • 30g butter

IMG_2750

Measure out all your macaron ingredients and place your egg whites in a clean dry mixing bowl

IMG_2825

Sieve ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder into another medium bowl and set aside.

IMG_2826

Beat the egg whites till soft foamy peaks then add in sugar in three additions beating well after each addition until you get stiff peaks. You can do the bowl-over-your-da’s-head test if he’s nearby. You want a really shiny stiff meringue-like batter.

IMG_2828

Add your dry ingredients into the egg whites and start folding. This is known as macaronage – basically deflating the egg whites a bit by mixing in the dry ingredients. You want big sweeping folds to get the mixture incorporated. You’ll go through stage 1 -4 above before it is incorporated. This is where a spatula works best because you can scrape right down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Once it is fully incorporated stop folding.

*Your batter will be a bit darker than this – I ran out of cocoa powder so I used a little less.

IMG_2829

This is the make or break step so be really careful here.  Give the batter a couple of folds to create a rough surface on the top then lift the bowl and smack it on the counter two or three times. If the peaks settle to almost flat like the photo below after about 10 seconds then you’re done. If not, give it a few more folds and try again. Some people say it should flow like lava but that can be a bit misleading and cause you to over-mix. Be really attentive here as if your batter is too stiff your macs will crack and if it’s too runny, they will spread and have no feet after baking. whether or not it works, it’ll be perfectly edible and tasty but you wont get the right look.

IMG_2831

Scrape the macaron batter into your piping bag and place your macaron template under the baking paper on your baking sheet. Stick the ends of the baking paper down with a little bit of macaron batter to prevent it moving around. Snip off the end of the piping bag and pipe small macaron circles. I pipe with my bag at a 90degree angle to the sheet and squeeze and allow the circle to grow out to the size I need without moving my bag then stop squeezing and lift up piping bag quickly and on to the next one. Your macs should have little peaks on each one. Once you finish piping a tray, lift it up and drop it on the counter until your macarons have a smoother top – this could be 2 or 3 taps or 8. You might get air bubbles popping but don’t worry about these.

Allow the sheets to sit in a cool dry place for about 25 minutes or until the shells are no longer sticky when touched lightly. I usually take mine out of the kitchen and leave them in the living room or hallway if the kitchen is too warm. Preheat your oven to 160C (140C fan).

IMG_2832

While the macarons are resting, place chopped chocolate in a small bowl, heat the double cream until it begins to bubble then pour over chopped chocolate. Allow to stand for 30 seconds then stir from the inside out until well combined. Add butter and stir till incorporated. Refrigerate stirring every 10 minutes until thick but spreadable (30mins – 1 hour), then spoon into a piping bag and set aside.

IMG_2833

Once macarons are no longer sticky when touched lightly, bake for 16 – 20 minutes, turning the baking sheet around at the 8 minute mark. At 8 minutes they should have feet like photo 1 above. After 16 minutes pull out the tray and gently wiggle the top of a macaron in the middle and if it wiggles pop the sheet back in for another 3 minutes and try again. Macs are done when they no longer move with a gentle wiggle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet for about 10 minutes. If you remove them too early they may stick to the baking paper. After cooling, gently peel the baking paper off each macaron and place on a tray/ cooling rack. Pipe a good amount of ganache on half of the shells and sandwich with the other half. Place macarons on their side in a container and refrigerate for a day. Then bring to room temperature before serving.

Of course you can eat them right away! 🙂 But they’ll be a little on the hard chewy side. After a day in the fridge the chocolate and almond flavours would have melded together to create a crisp shell with a soft delicious texture inside.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Happy World Baking Day!

Six years ago, I was at my mum’s house for the summer, faffing about – as you do.  One day, the lil’ sister really wanted biscuits or chocolates or sweets or something along those lines. It was her ‘Sweet Day’, you see – the one day a week she was allowed to eat sugary snacks, as recommended by her dentist. I was, as usual, too lazy to walk the 7 minutes and 28 seconds it took to get to the shop. So, being the smart kid she is, she fished out her ‘Baking With Kids’ book and asked me to make her something. Lazy me thought ‘how hard could it be?’.

Khade vs. Chocolate & Vanilla Shortbread Biscuits

Fail. #didnotnailit

And here’s me now, years later, fresh from competing in the Great Irish Bake Off, ticking another one off the bucket list – starting a blog… about baking.

Yeah.

I know!

Chocolate & Vanilla Shortbread Pinwheels

photo10

You will need:

Vanilla Dough

170g Plain Four

115g Butter (room temperature)

60g Icing Sugar

Chocolate Dough 

160g Plain Four

115g Butter (room temperature)

60g Icing Sugar

2 tbsp Cocoa Powder

*Weigh out all ingredients beforehand as your hands will get messy very quickly.

Place the butter and flour in a bowl.
photo2

Rub in until you get a coarse breadcrumb-like consistency.
photo3

Rub in the icing sugar till combined.
photo4

Squish the dough into a ball. Flatten onto a piece of cling film, wrap & refrigerate for 30 minutes.
photo6

Repeat for the chocolate dough.
photo7

Roll each piece on a sheet of greaseproof paper to a rectangle just under 1cm thick.
photo8

Place the chocolate dough on the vanilla and trim the edges.
photo1

Roll the dough in a tight spiral from one end using the baking paper as a guide (my vanilla dough got bits of chocolate in it from my messy hands). Refrigerate the log for 10 minutes.
Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 11.04.42 PM

Slice into 2cm cookies and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Insert a paper lollipop stick into each one. (Optional – skipped this step and then poked a few in immediately after baking)
Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 11.20.35 PM

Bake at 160C (fan) for 15 minutes or until cookies just begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes on the baking tray.
Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 11.21.16 PM

Place on a wire rack to cool completely. They’ll firm up once cool. Store in an airtight container.

Happy World Baking Day!