Witty in the City is two years old, and to mark this happy occasion, let’s celebrate with French macarons! In a striking coincidence, the first post on Witty in the City is also about a macaron odyssey. Fortunately, both tales have sweet endings. This properly-executed macaron recipe satisfies my cravings to the point that I have trouble believing they came from my own kitchen. Although they are labor of love, I am looking forward to experimenting with other flavor combinations (chocolate passion fruit, please!). These macarons have chocolate shells with chocolate blackberry filling, but the blackberry flavor is mostly overpowered. I give the recipe for a regular chocolate filling here because I don’t think my labor on the blackberries paid off.
This recipe will make about 20 small macarons. Not to be a stickler, but a food scale is a must to successfully execute them. Using the scale, weigh out 200 grams of powdered sugar.
Add the powdered sugar to the bowl of a food processor, along with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 100 grams of ground almonds (if you don’t want to buy ground almonds, just put 100 grams of whole almonds into the food processor first and grind them up until they are relatively fine). Use the food processor to combine these ingredients, and then set them aside.
Then, weigh out 120-125 grams of egg whites (save your yolks for making ice cream!). After my first and second attempt at this recipe failed, I was serious about weighing everything. It turns out that, in addition to using too much powdered sugar, I wasn’t using enough egg whites. I needed 3.5 large eggs to get the right amount of whites. Add a dash of salt to the egg whites, and use an electric mixer to beat them until they just start to hold stiff peaks. With the mixer running, slowly add 40 grams of superfine sugar to the egg whites (I used a mortar and pestle to grind my regular sugar into superfine… oh the labor!). Whip the eggs until they are thick, glossy, and hold a very stiff peak.
Then, add the sugar and almond mixture into the bowl and fold it in well. The mixture should still hold its shape somewhat when you drop a dollop of it back into the bowl- it shouldn’t turn into a puddle.
Line your baking sheets with parchment paper (I tested parchment and a baking mat, and the parchment won out). Fill a piping bag (or a large zip lock bag) with the egg mixture. Cut off the corner so there is a dime-sized opening, and then pipe equal sized rounds. I recommend making mini macarons that are about 1.5 inches across. After the macarons are piped out, slam the baking sheet down on a flat surface once to get any bubbles out. If any of your macarons have pointy tops, you can smooth them down with you finger tip. Let the macarons sit out for up to 1 hour until a skin forms around them and they are dry to the touch.
Once the macaron shells are dry, bake them on the middle rack of your oven at 325ºF for 10 minutes, rotating the trays around half way through. Bake one sheet at a time so all of the macarons cook evenly. Let them cool completely on the trays (they will not come off easily until they have fully cooled).
While the macarons are drying and baking, get started on the chocolate ganache filling. Break 5 ounces of dark chocolate into pieces, and add them to a bowl. Put a dash of salt in the bowl as well. To a pot, add 2/3 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Heat the cream, stirring frequently, until it begins to steam. Pour the cream over the chocolate, let it sit for a few seconds, and then stir it together so the chocolate melts. Put the ganache into the fridge to firm up. If the ganache gets too hard, you can microwave it on low for a few seconds until it softens.
Once the macaron shells are completely cool and the chocolate ganache is the right consistency for spreading, you can begin filling your macarons. Add a dollop of the chocolate to the center of one macaron shell, and spread it to the edges. The filling should be about 1/2 centimeter thick. Sandwich the filling with a second macaron shell, and continue.
Macarons are REALLY BEST eaten chilled, so put all of your filled macarons in the fridge to set before serving, and store any uneaten ones in there too. Biting into a macaron is a wonderful sensation- the outer crispy shell gives way to the shell’s soft inside, and then your teeth hit the firm, cold filling. Once the flavors come on, there is nothing to do but enjoy.
I hope these macarons are a rewarding and delicious success for you! I will keep you updated with any new, fabulous flavors I come up with. Let me know your favorite combinations!
- Powdered sugar- 200 grams
- Ground almonds- 100 grams
- Cocoa powder- 2 tablespoons
- Egg whites- 120-125 grams
- Superfine sugar- 40 grams
- Dark chocolate- 5 ounces
- Heavy cream- 2/3 cup
- Brown sugar- 1 tablespoon
This recipe is based on the book “macarons” by Annie Rigg.