Who doesn’t love a macaron? Not many, if the ongoing obsession with them (evidenced by masses of online videos, blogs and discussion threads) is anything to go by! I’ve made a number of them now and, quite frankly, it continues to be a learning experience. There are just so many things that can go wrong at so many points along the way! However, it seems that (for me at least) the Italian method delivers better, more consistent results.
I’ve wanted to try my hand at chocolate macarons for a long time, but have been put off by hearing that they are more difficult to master given the inclusion of cocoa in the cookie batter. For whatever reason, I didn’t find that to be an issue and this, and subsequent batches, has turned out fine.
This recipe, which doesn’t yield a huge amount of macarons (and so is a good one to use if you’re wanting to dip your toes into macaron making), is one I found from Australian chef Kirsten Tibballs. I loved the dark chocolatey flavour which was further enhanced by the deep, dark ganache filling. Don’t be tempted to use milk chocolate – you need the bitterness of the dark chocolate to counter the sweetness of the cookie. The only change I made to the recipe was to add some orange zest into the filling – the perfect pairing with chocolate as far as I’m concerned!
It turns out that dark chocolate macarons are probably (other than perhaps salted caramel) my favourite flavour. I’m sure you’ll like them too. Enjoy!
CHOCOLATE & ORANGE ITALIAN MACARONS
For the macarons:
- 4.6 oz icing (confectioners') sugar
- 4.6 oz almond meal
- 0.7 oz Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 fl oz water
- 4.6 oz caster (superfine) sugar
- 1.5 oz egg whites (A)
- 1.7 oz egg whites (B)
- Brown food colouring, optional – I didn't use colouring
For the filling:
- 12.3 oz good-quality dark chocolate, roughly
- 94.4 fl oz heavy cream
- 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 0.07 oz sea salt
- Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Cut a piece of baking paper to fit a large baking tray (you mayneed to prepare 2 trays).
- Trace 40 circle 40 mm in diameter onto the paper (or you can simply eye-ball them as you go),leaving a space in between each one. Turn the sheet over. You can place a baking mat on top ofthe baking paper or pipe directly onto the overturned sheet.
For the macaron shells:
- Place the icing sugar and almond meal into a food processor and grind to a fine powder. Add in the cocoa powder and grind again. Remove the mixture from the processor and sieve into a bowl.
- Place the egg whites (A) into the bowl of a stand mixer (do not start mixing yet). Combine water and sugar into a small saucepan and place on medium heat.
- Once the sugar and water reaches 110°C (230°F), start whisking the egg whites in the stand mixer and gradually increase the speed – they need to be thick and at soft peak stage. Boil the sugar and water until it reaches 118°C (244°F). (If you don't have a thermometer, place a small drop of the sugar syrup into a bowl of chilled water and when it reaches 118°C, it will make a soft pliable ball).
- Pour the boiled syrup into the whipped egg whites in a slow and steady stream. Ensure the hot sugar syrup doesn't hit the whisk. Add in a couple of drops of brown colour (if using). Continue whisking the macaron mixture until it cools slightly and starts to level out in the bowl (you should end up with medium peaks, where the tips fold over (not stiff).
- Add the egg whites (B) into the sieved dry ingredients and stir by hand to combine.
- Fold half of the prepared meringue into the egg white-almond base, before folding in the remainder with a sturdy rubber spatula. You want to fold to a point where the mixture slowly but methodically falls from the spatula in long ribbons (you should be able to do a figure 8), and where the mixture slowly melds back into the batter (i.e. 10-20 seconds).
- Transfer the macaron mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 10mm (1 cm) plain round piping nozzle. Pipe the mixture onto your prepared tray using the marked circles as a guide. Once you have finished piping, tap the tray to level the surface of the macaron and bring any bubbles up to the surface (you can use a small skewer to pop any unpopped bubbles).
- Put in the centre of the oven and bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, the remove and leave at room temperature to cool.
For the macaron filling:
- Place dark chocolate into a mixing bowl. Place the cream, orange zest, vanilla and salt in asauce pan over a low heat until the mixture is scalding (but not boiling). Pour the mixture over the dark chocolate and emulsify with a stick blender. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface and leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until it reaches a piping consistency.
- Transfer the ganache to a disposable piping bag fitted with a 10-12 mm plain piping nozzle. Turnover every second macaron on the tray. Pipe the filling onto the base of the turned over macaron shell and place the second one on top and sandwich them together (it helps if you gently 'screw' the top cookie onto the filling).
- It's important to mature the cookies by placing them in the fridge for 24 hours or more, otherwise they will be too crunchy and lacking in flavour.
- The finished macarons can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to six weeks
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