The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
What a coincidence that this month’s challenge was a naturally gluten-free recipe that features almond flour (since I am giving away a signed copy of Elana Amsterdam’s Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook at the end of the month!).
A little background: French macarons are notoriously difficult for the home baker to get right, and I’ve never attempted them before. I’ve seen gorgeous ones all over the blogosphere, though… check out these from Trissalicious, these from Tartelette and these from David Lebovitz. As you can see, macarons can be flavored in many different ways, and we were encouraged to be creative in this regard.
I was really hoping for classically gorgeous French macarons myself, but I can’t say I actually achieved this. While my macarons were delicious, I did not end up with the characteristic “feet” or the texture macarons are supposed to have (mine were quite chewy). Two attempts at macarons in one week was enough for me, though.
So even though I didn’t get ‘em picture perfect this time around, I’ll be making them again in the future; I’ve even added I Love Macarons to my Amazon wishlist.
Many other Daring Bakers got great results from the challenge recipe, so I’m sure I made a little error in the technique or something- my guess is I over-folded the batter, or perhaps I should have used a finer almond flour…
I made two versions. For the macarons you see just above, I used the basic challenge macaron recipe and filled them with a yummy organic dark chocolate peanut butter ganache. At the very top of this post, you can see that I also made chocolate macarons with a white filling using my own recipe (with much less sugar in the macarons), and you’ll see that recipe if you keep reading…
French Macarons Recipe
From The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks.
Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macarons for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Chewy Chocolate Ginger Macarons with Ginger Coconut White Chocolate Ganache
Inspired by David Lebovitz’ French Chocolate Macarons, these are not as sweet as typical macarons.
Note that if you don’t like white chocolate (I do, but the sweetness can be cloying to some), substitute the chocolate of your choice for the ganache. Anything from milk to super dark chocolate (these will be the healthiest) would work well, depending on your personal taste. These can be made into tiny macaron bites or they can be larger, depending on how wide you pipe them: again, your choice.
For the Macarons:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup blanched almond flour, finely ground if available
3 Tb. organic cocoa powder
2 Tb. crystalized ginger, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 pinch fleur de sel
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 Tb granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 1-2 baking sheets (depending on how large they are) with parchment paper.
Combine the powdered sugar and almond flour in a blender. Process until very fine. Add the crystallized ginger, the cinnamon and the salt and blend again. Remove these ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well.
Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
Fold the dry ingredients, in two-three batches, into the egg whites. Use a flexible rubber spatula to do this and be gentle, taking care not to overfold.
Scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip. You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It is helpful if you place your pastry bag in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
Pipe the batter in one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) circles of batter onto the baking sheets you lined with parchment paper. Space them about one inch apart.
Place the cookie sheet on top of another cookie sheet (to prevent the bottoms from darkening too much) and bake the macarons for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling.
For the White Chocolate Coconut Ginger Ganache:
4 Tb. cream -I used raw cream
1 bar organic white chocolate (3.5 oz) -I used Green and Blacks
4 Tb. organic unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tb. finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 pinch fleur de sel
In a small pot over very low heat, melt the white chocolate with the cream. Add the coconut and the ginger and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to fill the macarons.