Mint Chocolate Macarons
Having just got back from Paris from my extravagant birthday celebration (encompassing the cabaret, L’Arpège and decent cocktails by Parisian standards), and unsuccessful house-hunting mission, I’m obsessed with macarons all over again. After messing up my first batch using 48 hours aged egg whites I had to resort to using fresh egg whites brought down to room temperature. And I am very pleased to report that this whole “egg maturing” malarkey may not actually be neccessary.
While beating my matured eggs I was feeling a very unusual combination of confidence and anxiety, clearly still shakey from my last attempt where I possibly may have lucked out with my recipe and oven experimentation. So just like the anxious over-confident novice that I am, I over-beat my meringue to total slopsville (a place where stiff peaks do not appear). I didn’t realise to what extent I beat them and carried on folding in the almond meal, icing sugar and colouring, and had a manic time piping the batter while trying to avoid getting green gloop all over the kitchen and myself.
I scrapped the first attempt and started afresh, with fresh egg whites. Knowing the big risk I was taking with the fresh egg whites I tried taking extra care while beating them (especially challenging as Stacey was babbling away on the X Factor Final – less babbling, more belting, please). I folded in the almond meal and sugar just as carefully and piped the batter praying the shells would hold their shape. Thankfully, they did.
I cranked up the temperature to 165C this time and closed the oven door. 5 minutes in and my macarons have got puffy dancing feet, as did I! It’s still such a great feeling to see feet grow on these little pesky pretty things.
Pierre Hermé’s shop at Rue Bonaparte, Paris, is responsible for making me macaron crazed. It is a little temple of all things wonderful and sugarry. The cakes and pastries look dreamy but it was for the ethereal macarons that I was there queuing outside the door for 15 minutes in the frosty wind.
I’ve just ordered his Macaron book which I hope will help me improve my macaron-making as well as French language skills in the kitchen, as I’ll need much more than just “Pardon Monsieur, je suis perdu”.
Mint Chocolate Macarons
For the shells
3 egg whites, room temperature
110g almond meal
200g caster sugar
30g granulated sugar
1 tsp green powdered food colouring
1. Preheat oven to 165C. Using a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer whisk the egg whites to a foam, gradually adding the granulated sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat. If you have to, keep stopping at intervals to check the consistency – it should have stiff peaks.
2. Combine the ground almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor or blender and give them a good pulse and stir to mix. Sift them and add it graduallly to the meringue with the coloring. Fold it quickly to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a mixture that flows like smooth cake batter (or magma…if you know what magma flows like). Do 15 long folds and test a small amount on a plate: if the tops sinks in on its own you’re done with folding. If it has a stiff peak, do another 15 long folds or so and test again. You may have to do this thrice till you reach the ideal batter consistency.
3. Fill the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe small rounds (10p coin size – you can even trace around the outline with a pen and flip the parchment over to the non-pen-marked side, just make sure the traced circles are spaced with 1-1.5 inch gaps) onto the parchment paper lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 45 minutes grow skins and bake for 8-10 minutes with the door closed.
4. Let cool for 20 seconds. You may have trouble removing them from the parchment so remove the parchment from baking tray, moisten the tray and place the parchment back onto it. Let rest for another 20 seconds and them peel off the macarons. This will be easy peasy now. Don’t let them rest on the wet tray for too long otherwise they’ll start getting soggy.
Mint Chocolate Ganache (Adapted from Ms. Adventures in Italy)
80g fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, broken up into pieces (I used Green & Black’s 70% dark chocolate)
1/2 cup double cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/16 teaspoon peppermint extract
1. Melt chocolate pieces with cream in a bain marie/double boiler. When smooth, remove from heat.
2. Add butter and peppermint extract, until mixed completely. Let stand until cooled and slightly thickened.
3. Pipe the ganache onto the macaron shells and sandwich them.