If I could, for Valentine's Day I would personally give Pierre Hermé a smooch. But he would probably think "Who eez zeez crazeee americaine?" Why the love for Pierre? His book, his dreamy book, Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé. Since I got this book for Christmas I have been wowing friends and family with his fabulousness, albeit on a smaller scale and maybe not so perfect. But hey, most of them have never tried his stuff so they know nothing...
So tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and now that I'm a mom that means more than just buying my husband a bottle of cologne and having some dinner. Now kids are involved, and teachers come with the package. So, for my preschooler's teachers, I decided to make chocolate macarons. A major crowd-pleaser, you can't go wrong with macarons as a gift. I've made them multiple times in the past, David Lebovitz's recipe, Sherry Yard's recipe, and today I decided to tackle good old Pierre's recipe. Since everything else in his book seems to die for, these probably would be too.
Macarons are macarons, and all the recipes resemble each other more or less. And every batch could be a huge success or a major bomb, you never know until they come out of the oven. But Hermé is a scientific baker, and I knew that there would be a reason for his very precise measurements and kind of wacky baking method. My macarons did not come out perfectly, though. To the average Joe, they look great. But some of them have the bumpy top that all macaron bakers come to despise like the devil himself. My slip up was in beating my egg whites...I beat them too long (preschooler needed some attention in the middle of the whipping). Not TOO too long, but my macarons ended up with too much puff on top. But no matter, they still turned out DELICIOUS.
Pierre does something I havena't seen in another macaron recipe. He has you start at a very high temperature (425) and lower it to 350 once the macarons are in the oven, then put a wooden spoon in the door. What I found is that this leads to a very very tender macaron. Nice and soft in the middle, but not too soft.
To quote my husband as he bit into one of the "ugly" ones: "My God, these are good."
Pierre Hermé's Chocolate Macarons
Prepare 3 baking sheets with either a silpat (my preference) or parchment paper.
Have ready a pastry bag with 1/4 inch round tip.
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 egg whites) at room temperature
2 cups plus 2 Tb powdered sugar
1 1/3 cups almond flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (Dutch processed is best)
Sift together the powdered sugar, almond flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until glossy peaks form.
With a rubber spatula, combine the dry ingredients with the egg whites, in 3 or 4 additions. Fold the dry ingredients in, and continue folding until you get a cake-batter-like consistency. If you make a peak with the batter, it should disappear rather quickly. Keep folding until you get that consistency.
Fill a pastry bag with a 1/4 inch round tip with the batter, and pipe 1 inch circles on your baking sheets. Dust with additional cocoa powder.
Let them sit out for 15-30 minutes. (Pierre says 15, I usually go a bit longer).
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When the macarons are ready to bake, bake them one sheet at a time. Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 350. (Each time you bake a new pan of macarons, re-preheat the oven to 425 before putting them in, and lower it to 350 once they are in.) Put a wooden spoon in the door of the oven, leaving it slightly ajar. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.
Pierre's method: When macarons come out of the oven, pour a bit of water underneath the parchment paper. Let the water get under the entire sheet of paper by moving the pan a bit. Let the macarons soak up some of that moisture for about 15 minutes, then carefully peel the macarons from the paper.
My method: I use a silpat, so I just wait for the macs to cool and then I peel them off the silpat mat. But one day I'll try the magical paper/water method and see if it makes a difference.
Filling the macarons:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1/2 cup cream
1 Tb. butter
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a small to medium bowl. Heat the cream and corn syrup until hot and bubbles form on the outside edge of the cream. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Add the butter and stir until it comes together. Refrigerate until ganache is at a spreadable consistency.
Spread ganache over the flat side of one macaron cookie. Top with another macaron.
Refrigerate and serve the following day, or keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.