Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Desserts Collection: Chocolate Macaron (with peanut butter filling!)

Am macaron crazy and it is not because of masterchef!  First time I saw this cute little pastries was when I was in Paris about 5 years or so ago.  Just fell in love with the look of it.  About a year ago, I bump into recipes on some blogs and started trying to make them and the first time I would say was a huge disaster, turn out like cats tongue, and 10 tries later, it did not get any better!!  It really does affect me psychologically when every single try ended up in the bin as the look of it turns me off.  I had looked up tons of recipes and even bought books on it but it did not help much as one I could not get a nice looking "feet" (the little bubbles on the base which is called pied) and if I am lucky enough to get any "feet", it would not come off clean from the baking paper.  Finally I decided to attend a one day course just on macaron making and Viola, it worked and I was ecstatic the first time I tried it out as every single one came out perfectly.  However, Chocolate macarons I reckon is the hardest to make and am not quite sure what is the reason, think it must have to do with the cocoa powder.  Funnily, it does not burn as easily as the other macarons I have made which I need to pop a tin foil paper after a certain time to prevent the sides from burning.  To get a perfect macaron, one need to try and test all the time as I think it really is dependent on the type and make of oven you have. Below is the recipe - happy trying them out.  The outcome is always such a joy...soooo cute!

(Yield about 20-25 macaron pairs)
125 g almond meal
125 g pure icing sugar
100 g egg whites (at room temperature)
A pinch of cream of tartar
100 g caster sugar
13 g icing sugar
13 g pure cocoa powder
Red food coloring (Queen brand, the rainbow food color range.)
Crunchy peanut butter for filling
note:  Egg whites should be separated a day before and left in container, covered at room temperature

1) Line baking paper onto baking sheets and ensure it fits perfectly.  Using a round tube (size 13 or rounds of approximately 2-3 cm in diameter), draw circles on the baking paper.  (note: You can skip this if u are an expert at piping but doing this ensures u get consistent size of macarons!)

2) Place the almond meal and icing sugar (1st 2 ingredients) in the food processor and whiz until the almond meal is quite fine.

3) Sieve the whizzed almond meal and icing sugar into a bowl (all has to pass through the sieve, if u are not able to sieve them entirely, it is most likely due to the almond meal not whiz to a fine consistency)

4) Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa (last 2 ingredients) powder into another bowl.

5) Place the egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar in a mixer and whisk until foamy.  Slowly add the caster sugar (in 2 to 3 batches) and continue whisking until sugar dissolves and egg whites at stiff peak form.

6) Add a couple drops (around 5-6) of red food coloring to stiff egg whites and continue whisking until color is incorporated.
7) Pour stiff egg whites into another bowl and in 3 batches, slowly pour the whiz almond meal and icing sugar mixture into stiff egg whites and using a spatula, slowly stir until incorporated (note: ensure that at each addition, it is stir until incorporated before adding on another batch, also do not over stir.  Stir until it is just incorporated)
8) Pour in the cocoa and icing sugar mixture and stir until just incorporated.

9) With a scraper, knead the mixture until smooth and shiny.  (This is the tricky bit - best is to use a scraper and flatten out the mixture around the bowl and at the same time turn the bowl around.  Do this around 30-40 times.  With one finger tip, take a bit of mixture out and if the mixture stands on your finger tip like an upside down letter V, then the mixture is ready!)

10) Place mixture in a piping bag and pipe them onto the baking paper circles (note:  mixture should look flat, if u see bubbles or mixture does not seem round and smooth, tap tray lightly on the bench to even mixture out) and let stand until the top dries around 30 minutes, could be longer depending on the weather (u know it is ready when u touch the top and there is no mixture sticking to your finger!  I usually have the heater on in the room to quicken the drying process!)

11) Preheat oven to 150C, place an empty baking sheet into the oven (u need this as the tray with the piped out mixture will be placed onto this sheet, meaning it will be double stacked.)

12) Once the mixture is dried (step 10), place them in the oven for approximately 30 minutes (note: to prevent them from burning, after approximately 8-10 minutes in the oven, place a tin foil paper on top of the macaron.)
13) Once out from the oven, let cool completely before taking them off the baking paper.  Spread peanut butter onto a macaron shell and sandwich it with another shell.  (Note:  U can either freeze the shell with filling or without filling.  It can be kept in the freezer for approximately 2 weeks in an airtight container.  I find that freezing it without the filling ensures that the shell stays crispy for a longer time!)  Enjoy!

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