Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas Macarons: Peppermint, Pistachio and Chocolate

To me, The greatest thing about the internet is that I can look up how to do just about anything. Got a question? Google it! (or Yahoo it, or whatever you use). One of my food blogging heroes is Helene from Tartelette. She's GOOOOD. Everything she bakes turns to yummy gold. And she knows what she's doing. Got a question? Ask the tartelette.

I'm a huge fan of French macarons, and I finally learned how to make them the French way (whipping egg whites adn then folding in the almond/powdered sugar mixture). Problem is, they didn't always turn out uniform, they were sometimes too hard, sometimes too puffy, there are just so many variables. So when I decided to tackle macarons using italian meringue, I went to zee famous Tartelette. Of course, there in her site was a number of wonderful recipes for foolproof macarons. Sure, they take longer to make than the French meringue method, but they are supposed to be the real deal, every time. And of course, Helene often prefers this method when she makes her fabulous macarons, so she had a fabulous recipe! But she's French, you see...her recipes are often in grams and whatnot. Silly rest of the world with their metric system...So I had to put my very non-mathematical brain to work and do some converting. Alas, I came up with a recipe that works.

The macarons that I got from this recipe are just about as Pierre Hermé/Ladurée worthy as I have ever done. And every pan turned out great. No misses, it was like the heavens opened and I was welcomed into the macaron paradise so few get to see...ahhhhhhh!!!

For Christmas, I decided to do peppermint/chocolate, pistachio/chocolate with ginger (which I learned through Helene's web site), and David Lebovitz's recipe for chocolate macarons. I will try the Italian meringue method with chocolate macarons next, but I didn't tackle it this time since David's recipe is always so good.

I'm really happy with the results. I'm bringing them to a Christmas party tonight, and judging from how many my husband and I have already devoured, I don't think they will last too long!!

Here's the how-to:
1/2 cup egg whites
3 Tb. sugar
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 c. almond flour (for pistachio, I did 1/2 c. almond and 1/2 c. ground pistachios)
2 tsp. flavoring if applicable (for peppermint, I used peppermint extract.)
Coloring (I used green for the pistachio and pink for the peppermint)

For syrup:
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water

Begin by placing the 1/4 c. water and 3/4 c. sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the sugar syrup registers 170 degrees on a candy thermometer, start whipping 1/2 of your egg whites (so 1/4 cup of them). When the egg whites have started to froth, slowly add the 3 Tb. sugar.

When the sugar syrup gets to 230 on a candy thermometer, add it in driblets to your egg whites (which should hold soft peaks at this point).

Whip the mixture for 10 - 15 minutes, until fluffy and cool.

Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of egg whites with the ground almonds and powdered sugar. (I do this in a cuisinart food processor). Fold this mixture into the meringue mixture.

Fill a pastry bag with a 1/4 inch tip with your mixture. Pipe 2 inch circles on cookie sheets lined with parchment or with a silpat (I use a silpat).
Bake at 320 for 12 minutes (12 - 15 minutes, I do 12).

I filled all my macarons with chocolate ganache. The pistachio ones have about a teaspoon of ginger in them, for added zing. (Do this to taste). This recipe will fill about two macaron recipes.

4 oz. chocolate
1/2 cup cream
2 tsp. corn syrup
1 Tb. unsalted butter.
(added flavoring if you want (peppermint, coffee, ginger, etc.)

Chop chocolate in small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Once it is hot and bubbles on the sides of the pan, pour it into the chocolate. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until all the chocolate is melted and incorporated.

Refrigerate until ready to use. If necessary, let soften before using (I like it pretty soft so I don't break my macarons while filling them).


Carla said...

Those look so beautiful. I've been dying to try to make those and now I can use your/Tartlette's recipe! Thanks for sharing.

Tartelette said...

Darn those Europeans and their metric system!!! I am thrilled that they turned out great for you! I loved the "the heavens opened up" phrase. That's pretty much the feeling I got when I made my first batch without a snafu.
I bet they flew right out of the box!!

Lesley said...

MAN did they fly out of the box. And people would grab their heart while eating them. No conversation, just chewing and eyes rolling in the backs of heads.

FoodieFroggy said...

Je n'ai qu'un mot à dire : bravo. Là, tu m'as épatée, moi je n'ai pas ré-essayé depuis mon dernier échec, snif snif !!

Lesley said...

Oh WOW, merci Anne. Tu sais, j'ai commencé a faire des macarons en juillet...6 mois apres je crois que je comprends le truc!!!

Deborah said...

They look gorgeous!! I keep wanting to try to make these, but I've never actually had a macaron, so I wouldn't know what to compare it to!!

Lesley said...

Yeah, that's the hardest, when you don't know what to expect.
A little crunch on the outside, soft on the inside, melt in your mouth. Not too chewy, very light. Oh, and smooth tops and little "feet" on the bottom.

Joy said...

Thanks so much for "translating" the recipe to American volumes! I just made these, and the only thing is, I feel like the came out too sweet!

Lesley said...

Yes, they are sweet. One way to cut down on the sweet is to use a bittersweet ganache inside. If you mess with the ingredients too much, you mess with the texture and they don't work their macaron magic in the oven...