Welcome to my blog, through which I hope to be able to share my experiences of gluten free cooking, baking, experimenting and eating.
When my daughter was diagnosed (age 6) with Coeliac Disease, our world of eating changed overnight. From breads, pastry and pasta to cakes, biscuits and puddings.......... suddenly most of what we knew was 'off the menu'. I think I must have tested every available gluten free product on the market, seeking out replacements to try and keep things as normal as possible. I was disappointed to find that what was available was often dry, crumbly and flavourless.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to turn my kitchen into a laboratory, turn all I knew about cooking on its head and start creating!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Blackcurrant and Dark Chocolate Macaron


A few weeks before Christmas I attempted my first ever batch of French Macaron - they were Raspberry & White Chocolate and were surprisingly successful. Chewy yet crisp, fruity but rich, filled with sweet white chocolate ganache. I was very proud.

As often happens when you achieve something you expect to fail, my confidence was seriously boosted to the point of feeling quite blasé about the trickiness of the task. Lesson 1........... just because you do something once, doesn't mean you can do it again!


My next batch was a disaster..... I managed to press a button on my digital thermometer just as the sugar was about to reach crucial temperature, so had no idea how accurately it was reached. I over-whisked the second half of egg white before I added the liquid sugar (probably because I was panicking about the communication breakdown with the thermometer). And the consistency of the almond mix became so thick (I have no idea why) that it was nye on impossible to fold in without losing every cubic millimetre of air! The result was a flat, squelchy batch of mauve blobs........ so disastrous were they, that there was nothing I could salvage them for and they went straight into the bin (not good..... I hate waste!).


Not one to be defeated, I gave myself a couple of days to recover from the humiliation of macaron deflation and tried again!

This batch, though not quite as chewy as my first (and best) batch, is a marked improvement. I think though, that I may have erred on the side of caution at every stage and probably left them in the oven a minute or two too long. Having said that, they look (and taste) like macaron.......


Blackcurrant and dark chocolate are a wonderful pairing, whether with fresh fruit, cake, trifle, or any other dessert. The macaron are no exception, although I would caution that these are a very grown up treat.......

The dark chocolate ganache is beautifully rich and creamy with deep notes of bitter cocoa, offset by the fruity tang of Summer blackcurrant. This is a macaron to leave your taste buds exhilarated and your endorphins buzzing.


I am sharing my Blackcurrant & Dark Chocolate Macaron with :


Foodie Friday with Casa Costello


Cook Blog Share with Lucy at Supergolden Bakes


Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too


And my second entry to Ness at Jibber Jabber's Love Cake, which this month is 'Feeling Fruity'.



Blackcurrant & Dark Chocolate Macaron

Ingredients - Macaron Shells

200g icing sugar
200g ground almonds
150g egg white (divided into 2x 75g portions)
3 teaspoons freeze dried blackcurrant powder
Purple (or blue & red food colouring paste)
200g caster sugar
50 ml water

Ingredients - Dark Chocolate Ganache

125 ml double cream
275g dark chocolate (cut into small pieces)
60g unsalted butter (room temperature)

Blackcurrant powder to decorate.

Method

  1. Macaron Shells : Prepare 3 to 4 baking sheets by lining with baking paper. The baking papers should have circles drawn on the underside about the size of a 2 pence piece and spaced about 2.5 cm/1 inch apart. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the icing sugar, almonds and 75g egg white. Beat with an electric whisk until fully combined
  3. Add the blackcurrant powder and beat again.
  4. Preferably using a free-standing mixer, put the rest of the egg white (75g) into the bowl.
  5. In a very small saucepan, mix the caster sugar and water and heat very slowly. Use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature accurately. You want the temperature to reach exactly 117 C/242 F. 
  6. Whilst the sugar is heating, very gently whisk the egg whites in the mixer bowl until frothy and airy (do NOT over-whisk).
  7. When the sugar syrup has reached the required temperature, remove from the heat and add to the egg whites whilst continuing to whisk slowly. 
  8. Turn up the speed of the mixer a little (not to high speed) and continue to whisk until the mixture is stiff enough to form stiff peaks. You now have Italian meringue.
  9. Preheat the oven to 150 C/300 F/Gas 2.
  10. Add the food colour to the meringue and gently whisk in until you have your desired colour.
  11. Next, add the blackcurrant almond mix that you made earlier to the Italian meringue and beat slowly for about 30 seconds. 
  12. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for about 30 seconds until combined (you may choose to do the second mix by spoon if you are concerned about over-mixing). The consistency of the mix is important at this stage and should 'flow smoothly' when tipped from the spoon back into the bowl, yet 'spread back into a flat, even surface'.
  13. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm plain round nozzle.
  14. At right angles to the tray (upright), pipe small mounds of batter into the centre of the marked circles on the baking paper, until the batter almost fills the circle. Swirl the nozzle to separate, before moving on to the next circle. 
  15. Leave the piped batter circles to stand for 15 to 20 minutes until they have the appearance of a slight skin forming across the surface (this should be dry to a light touch).
  16. Bake for about 7 minutes and then swap the trays round and bake for a further 4-5 minutes. Watch very closely in case the edges begin to catch. The macaron are baked when the top is smooth and dry and they are firm to the touch. 
  17. Remove from the oven and as they begin to cool, very gently transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  18. Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling : Break the chocolate into small pieces in a heat proof bowl. 
  19. Heat the cream in a saucepan until it is just beginning to start to simmer, then remove from the heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Leave to sit for 4 to 5 minutes and then stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the ganache mixture is smooth. If any lumps of chocolate remain, place the bowl over a saucepan with a small amount of simmering water and gently heat and stir until smooth.
  20. Add the butter to cooled ganache and beat with a whisk or hand blender until smooth. If the mixture is still quite runny, place in the fridge for about 10 minutes to cool completely and stiffen very slightly.
  21. Pair up the macaron shells in a row one top side up, one top side down.
  22. Transfer the ganache to a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm nozzle.
  23. Pipe a blob of ganache into the centre of each of the flat-facing macaron shells and sandwich together with the second shell, gently squeezing together until the filling can be seen at the edge. 
  24. Sprinkle with a little freeze-dried blackcurrant powder on top for decoration.
  25. Store in the fridge, but bring back to room temperature to eat and enjoy at their best.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated

24 comments:

  1. Your macarons look so perfectly made! Beautiful and delicious. I think they would be perfect as a Valentine gift too!

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    1. Oooohhh Yes.... definitely. Valentines Day is just round the corner.... Thanks for the reminder!

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  2. Oh my these look perfect, way beyond me I'm afraid, quite in awe! #Recipeoftheweek

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    1. Awww... Thank you! You'd be surprised what you can do..... really!

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  3. They look stunning and I love the flavour combo. I hate it when a recipe that previously worked suddenly fails for no reason. Looks like you've got it cracked now though. Beautiful

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  4. These look unbelievably good. I love the combination of flavours. I've had three disaster batches of macarons and have never tried again!!

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    1. Thanks Dom. If YOU have had three disaster batches, then I should be worried for my next attempt! Maybe I should give up while I'm (sort of) winning!

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  5. What a lovely flavour combination - rich and fruity

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  6. Your macaron look so tasty! Great photos too:-)
    #FoodieFriday

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  7. looks perfect to me - sorry to hear you had a dud batch but two out of three aint bad!

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    1. Thanks Johanna. Fingers crossed if I risk another!

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  8. Macarons can be tricky! I have had the same thing – a string of perfect macarons followed by disastrous ones. But this batch looks amazing and well worth the effort and perseverance! #CookBlogShare

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    1. Thanks Lucy. I think if they had failed on the second attempt, I may not have risked another.....

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  9. Oh you are brave! I've never eaten a macaron let alone made one. I'm not sure how such things have passed me by since I love anything with almonds in!

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    1. Not to sure whether I am brave or masochistic? But a good macaron is a wonderful thing, so I am happy to be either if it means they work more consistently!

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  10. You are certainly persistent - These looks stunning! Thanks for joining in with #FoodieFriday - New linky now open x

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    1. Thanks Helen. Sometimes my determination can be a bit of a demon..... but who cares when there are macaron at the end of it!

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  11. Wow these look absolutely perfect and I love the flavour combination too. I've stayed away from the dreaded macarons after a few disasters. Perhaps it's time to revisit them!

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    1. Thanks Ros. I think Macaron have a reputation that makes it a scary prospect once they have gone wrong a couple of times. I figured I needed to get straight back in the saddle...... Definitely give them another go. The Perfecting Patisserie book instructions were really helpful, but this post from Lucy at Supergolden Bakes is worth checking out too! http://www.supergoldenbakes.com/2013/01/the-macaron-commandments.html

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  12. Perfect macarons Kate! So pretty too.

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