I said last week that #macaronmondays is going to become a thing. Since then, John Whaite has given his seal of approval. If the winner of the Great British Bake Off agrees, then surely it’s a done deal, right?
So on I go. I have a list of macaron flavours that I’ll be bring you over the coming weeks – we have some fun flavours, some serious and some just good old fashioned classics. Below is the latter – who can beat the flavour of mint-choc chip?
Whether it be a gelato on a beach front or in the form of a box – yes, a whole box! – of After Eights. Chocolate and mint are one of the best flavour combinations, ever.
So get right to it. You might want to double the recipe as once you have one, they’re pretty difficult to resist.
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100g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
72g egg white
100g granulated sugar
Brown food colouring gel
50g dark chocolate chips
25ml double cream
As I said last Monday, I find the best method for macarons is using Italian Meringue, rather than French. Using Italian Meringue in a French recipe, I hear you scream. Sacré bleu! But it works, every time.
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C or 160°C fan.
Sieve the almonds and icing sugar in a bowl several times. Three at a minimum. If you don’t have a sieve, use a food processor but either is fine.
Pour half of the egg whites – that’s 36g to be exact (and you need to be exact) – into the almond and icing sugar mixture and mix together with a spoon. It should all come together to create a paste, almost – thick and sticky. Sometimes it calls for me to push the mixture together against the side or bottom of the bowl to bind it together, but just do what works at this stage. Pour the rest of the egg whites into a stand mixer or clean bowl.
Put the sugar and water onto a medium-high heat in a high-sided saucepan. Combine carefully so all the sugar is coated in the water then leave very much alone. It’s worth having a pastry brush and a bowl of water to hand incase sugar crystals form up the side of the pan. Just dab them with the wet brush and they’re fizzle away, causing you no both. Bring the mixture to the boil. Using a sugar thermometer, bring the syrup up to 110°C. At this point, start mixing the egg whites in your stand mixer or with an electric hand held whisk. Once the temperature reached 118°C and the eggs are frothy, carefully and slowly pour it into the egg whites. You water the almost dribble the mixture in – pouring it in too quickly is dangerous and you may end up cooking the egg. Eggs are great and all, but on toast, with some bacon. Not in a macaron.
Whisk for about 5-6 minutes of high speed. Halfway, add food colouring. If you want to add more, do so. The colour always fades a little in the oven. I went for a light brown to offset the dark ganache inside but whatever works for you adjust accordingly.
After 6 minutes, the meringue mixture should be approaching stuff peak stage. So long as it holds up on the whisk, it’s done. Take about a quarter and add to the almond and sugar mixture – beat this together to loosen the mixture. Add another quarter and carefully fold together – you don’t want to remove the air you’ve just put into the meringue so slowly and carefully does it. Once combined, add another quarter and repeat the process. You may not use all of the meringue so test every now and then – take a bit of the mixture on the spatula and if it falls away in a ribbon-like consistency and disappears into the rest of the batter in about 10 seconds you’re there. It should fall from the spatula within 2 seconds.
Decant the mixture into a piping bag, fit with a plain round nozzle of about 1/2″. Blob a little of the mixture onto a baking sheet and place the baking paper on top, using the mixture as a glue to stick it down. Baking paper is needed – baking parchment will not suffice!
Pipe the circles onto the baking paper. Sometimes, there may be a ‘nipple’ to your meringue, but worry not, this should disappear with the next movement. That being taking the baking sheet and knocking it on the counter top several times. Just raise it above the counter a few inches and drop. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. And twice more.
Leave the macarons uncovered for 15 minutes and then place in the oven for 12 minutes on a low shelf. Any higher the macarons tend to brown and discolour. I know that sounds silly because we want brown macarons, but just trust me. Once cooked, leave to cool completely before even attempting to remove from the baking paper.
While they are cooling, make the ganache. Break up the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and pour over the cream. Place in the microwave for 20 seconds and stir. It should come together in a shiny and running consistency. Pour in a few drops of the extract and stir again. Place in the fridge to firm up for about half an hour. Remove and beat again – you should have a pipeable ganache perfect for filling your macarons! Place in a. Piping bag with a star nozzle.
Pipe the ganache round the edge of one side of a shell and one in the middle. Sandwich together. Repeat the process with all the macarons and place in the fridge for firm up. After a couple of hours, remove from the fridge and tuck in 30 minutes later for the perfect minty cookie!