Thursday, February 4, 2010

Number 40: Plain jane macarons with semisweet chocolate ganache

Yes. It's true. I have made macarons in the dorm kitchen.

I suppose that's not such a big accomplishment, but it is to me. An oven without a viewing window is damn annoying when you're trying to see if the feet have formed yet.
But I did it -- moderately successfully. Brought my coffee grinder all the way from California to do this, and afte
r finding myself with four egg whites left over from eclairs, I decided I was ready.

I let the egg whites age in the fridge for four days (Pierre Hermes recommends five, from what I've read). I bought whole almonds, powdered sugar, and cream for the ganache.
This time I decided to try a classic macarons without food coloring and a semisweet chocolate ganache - start simple until I get it perfect, and then branch out.

It worked, somewhat. A total of three trays went into the oven. Batch #1 came out nicely, although I'm afraid I didn't tap all the air out so there's an air bubble between the shell and chewy filling. Still tasty. Batch #2 was burnt, although when I cracked them in half there was no air bubble --- strange. Batch #3 was the middle child -- slightly burnt but still edible.

So here they are! The recipe, based on the Italian method, is posted with the specifics for a dorm kitchen, just for any NU students out there. Also, expect sea salt caramels --- made in a dorm kitchen, and without a candy thermometer. That's right. No thermometer.

P.S. Boyfriend has the stomach flu. I have a cold. Roomie's got a headache. What a sad picture.

Classic macarons
with semisweet chocolate ganache
adapted from Food & Wine and David Lebovitz

For the shells (find the original here. Omit food coloring.)
4 large egg whites
1 1/3 cup ground almonds (or almond flour)
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water plus 1 teaspoon

For the chocolate ganache
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon butter, unsalted

To make the shells
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a rack on the uppermost divider of an NU dorm oven (it should be 2/3 of the way up). For regular ovens, divide the oven into thirds with two racks. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift/whisk ground almonds and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using a spatula, mix in one egg white until evenly moist. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, combine 2/3 cup sugar with water. Bring to a boil, washing down crystals forming on the side with a pastry brush. Boil over high heat until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. If you don't have a candy thermometer, dip a wooden spoon in occasionally and run under cold water. The syrup should move slightly on the spoon, but gather. You should be able to roll the syrup into a semi-soft ball when cold.
4. Meanwhile, in another large bowl and with clean beaters in the electric mixer, beat the remaining 3 egg whites until soft peaks form.
5. With the electric mixer at high speed, slowly drizzle the hot syrup over the egg whites. Beat until firm and glossy.
6. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites mixture into the almond mixture. Once fully incorporated, fold in the remaining meringue with a rubber spatula. Do not overmix! Be sure that the mixture is still smooth and "flows like magma," whatever that means. Normally I just make sure the mixture is rounded on the top and flows slowly in a ribbon when lifted from the batch.
7. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip. Pipe out 1.5 inch mounds on the baking sheets, 1 inch apart.
8. Tap the sheets to remove any air. Let sit for 15 minutes to dry (at least 15-minutes)
9. Place in the oven (top rack only, dormmates), close the door, and turn off the oven. Bake for 5 minutes.
10. After 5 minutes, turn the oven back on to 400 degrees and bake for another 8 minutes. The meringues should be puffed up and the tops should be firm
11. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool. Carefully remove the shells.

For the filling
1. Heat the corn syrup and heavy cream together in a pot.
2. Add in chopped chocolate. Let sit for a minute and then mix until smooth.
3. Add in butter and mix until melted. Let cool completely before using (it will thicken and be easier to spread).


Sally Loo's Cafe said...

you are adorable! while other students opt for cup-o-noodles, here you are making beautiful tasty treats!

Gala said...

Well I cant taste them but from the look of it they came out perfect!

And get well soon, all of you!