The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
Oh yes. Macarons. Seemingly the holy grail of the biscuit world. I've been wanting to try my hand at making them for some time now but had never quite got around to it. Fear? Possibly. I wasn't about to let a biscuit scare me off though, no matter how pretty and elegant it was.
Although it's not so apparent here in Perth, macarons have become the cupcake of the biscuit world - they are everywhere right now. Perhaps not literally everywhere, though that would be pretty awesome. Would prevent many trip and fall injuries too, with all that soft meringueness.
(Speaking of "literally", I enjoyed the new Jamie Oliver show last night, but when will someone teach him the meaning of the word? I don't mind so much if he's saying "now you just literally add some salt" as this is just being a little redundant, but when he says something like "in New York you can literally have the world on your plate" then I start to get irritated.)
Now, the recipe given for this month's challenge apparently caused many issues for many Daring Bakers. I was not willing to undergo such issues so I cheated and used Trissa's tried and true recipe. Seriously, if you want to make macarons, this is the way to go.
Trissa's Conor-proof Macaron Recipe
Taken from Trissalicious
250 g almond meal
300 g icing sugar (not icing mixture)
200 g caster sugar
200 g egg whites (roughly 6 eggs)
1. In a food processor grind the almond meal and icing sugar for around 5 minutes until very finely ground.
2. Place the egg whites in an electric mixer and whip the whites until soft peaks.
3. Add the sugar, 50 grams at a time while the egg whites are being beaten.
4. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks.
5. Fold the ground almond meal mixture into the egg white mixture in three additions until fully amalgamated.
6. Pipe on to baking trays which have been lined with baking paper. Note: If you are using food colouring, add it now.
7. Let the macarons dry for around 30 minutes until the “shells” are dry.
8. Bake in a pre heated fan forced oven (150c) for 15 minutes, waiting very impatiently to see if your macarons will develop pretty "feet" or if they'll be the ugly stepsisters!
Seeing these babies with their pretty little feet was reminiscent of the joy of having my puff pastry actually rise in last month's challenge. I have a couple of friends who have recently given birth (congratulations J&G and K&A!!!), and I think that this is my equivalent. Plus I get to eat these afterwards.
After making the actual macarons, it's time to get ganaching. Here's the basic recipe:
400 g chocolate
200 mL cream
1. Chop up the chocolate into very small pieces and place in a bowl.
2. Scald the cream then pour into the bowl with the chocolate.
3. Let it sit for a minute or so then mix it up well until a creamy consistency. If you still have chunks of chocolate, melt it over a double boiler or just zap it in the microwave very briefly until it is all melted.
4. Let the ganache set before using. You can speed this up in the fridge.
I did three different types of ganache. In one dark chocolate mix I added Kahlua (using a bit less cream to account for the extra liquid), in another dark chocolate mix I added mint flavouring, and the third was a plain white chocolate ganache.
Thanks to Ami S for hosting this month's challenge, and a big big thanks to Trissa for being the Macaron Queen! Her macaron brilliance is so bright I think I need to wear some of Rilsta's patented macaron sunglasses :D