Friday, June 8, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Macarons

After the success of my salted caramel popcorn macarons, I had a renewed vigour to tackle a different flavour.  The dreaded chocolate macarons.  Dreaded because my good friend described my last attempt as, “not so much like a macaron but a flourless chocolate cake”. Ouch! So I turned to my trusty bible by Pierre Herme and thought, this has to be fool proof.  

Fool proof it is not!  Sadly, I was somewhat disappointed with how this batch turned out.  They were less smooth and glossy like the salted caramel popcorn batch and had slightly less crunch.  Pierre Herme calls for the oven temperature to be at 180 degrees whereas I’ve always baked my macarons around the 140 – 150 degree range and continued to do so.  However, I think next time I will preheat the oven to around 170 degrees and then drop it immediately down to 140 when I place the trays in, which should ensure a firm crisp shell, but will also cook the macaron through without burning them.  I think I will also tweak the recipe slightly and add a little bit more egg white to the mixture which should help make the macarons smoother as the mixture wasn’t very runny as previous successful batches.
I was also slightly underwhelmed by the colour of the macaron.  In Pierre’s book, his macaron is a beautiful chocolate brown whereas mine come out like the colour of raw minced meat (not very appetising particularly for a vegetarian like me)!  I figured that’s because he calls for 100% strength dark chocolate to be folded into the mixture which should offset all that red food colouring, however I only had 45% strength dark chocolate in the cupboard. 

The red hue of the macaron didn’t quite scream chocolate flavour but I figured the addition of raspberries might explain the reddish tint.  Thankfully I had some frozen raspberries in the freezer which I added to the chocolate ganache.  And besides, raspberries go so well with chocolate, that this turned out to be a happy accident! The taste reminded me of a cherry ripe, without the coconut, yummo! 

Recipe based on Pierre Herme’s Macarons (note Pierre Herme uses a lot of couture ingredients, which I haven’t repeated below)

For the almond mixture:
150g ground almonds
150g icing sugar
55g egg whites (aged)
60g dark chocolate 100% cocoa
7.5g red food colouring

For the Italian meringue:
150g caster sugar
37ml water
55g egg whites (aged)

For the raspberry chocolate ganache (this is my own recipe):
150ml pouring cream
200g dark chocolate
35g softened butter
Approx 3/4 cup of raspberries

Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water until it reaches 50 degrees and set it aside.

Process the almonds and icing sugar in a food processer until it is fine.  Stir the food colouring into the first portion of the egg whites and then pour it into the processed almonds and icing sugar, but do not stir the two together.

To make the Italian meringue, bring the water and sugar to boil to 118 degrees.  When it reaches anywhere between 110 to 115 degrees, whisk the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks on a medium speed.  You’ll need to time this correctly so that when the sugar reaches 118 degrees, it is ready to be poured over the egg whites. Continue to whisk on medium speed and then increase the whisk to high speed for the last few seconds. 

Fold the meringue into the sugar almond mixture, and then fold in the melted chocolate.  Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and then put the shells in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.  Personally, this temperature is too high for my oven, so you will need to figure out which temperature works best with your oven.  However, most macaron recipes will say set the temperature anywhere between 140 to 160 degrees and have the macarons baking anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes.

To make the chocolate ganache, bring the pouring cream to the boil and take it off the heat.  Add the chopped up chocolate and the softened butter into the cream and stir until combined.  Leave it to set in the fridge for around 2 hours until it has hardened slightly but still pliable.  Then add the raspberries to taste.  If you find the raspberries have made the ganache too runny to pipe, put it back in the fridge to set slightly.  Pipe the ganache onto the shells and top with remaining shells. 

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