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 :
Blackcurrant & Dark Chocolate Macaron
Ingredients – Macaron Shells
Ingredients – Dark Chocolate Ganache
Blackcurrant powder to decorate.
- 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.
- In a large bowl, combine the icing sugar, almonds and 75g egg white. Beat with an electric whisk until fully combined
- Add the blackcurrant powder and beat again.
- Preferably using a free-standing mixer, put the rest of the egg white (75g) into the bowl.
- 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.
- Whilst the sugar is heating, very gently whisk the egg whites in the mixer bowl until frothy and airy (do NOT over-whisk).
- When the sugar syrup has reached the required temperature, remove from the heat and add to the egg whites whilst continuing to whisk slowly.
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 150 C/300 F/Gas 2.
- Add the food colour to the meringue and gently whisk in until you have your desired colour.
- Next, add the blackcurrant almond mix that you made earlier to the Italian meringue and beat slowly for about 30 seconds.
- 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’.
- Transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm plain round nozzle.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Remove from the oven and as they begin to cool, very gently transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling : Break the chocolate into small pieces in a heat proof bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pair up the macaron shells in a row one top side up, one top side down.
- Transfer the ganache to a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm nozzle.
- 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.
- Sprinkle with a little freeze-dried blackcurrant powder on top for decoration.
- Store in the fridge, but bring back to room temperature to eat and enjoy at their best.