Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Macarons with Italian Meringue

The first time we tried to make macarons using the Italian meringue method was 5 years ago as soon as we got back from Le Salon du Chocolat in Paris, where we attended a demonstration of how Pierre Herme's macarons are being done. I said “tried” for a reason here, as instead of macarons we made something more like a big fat and fluffy cookies. But there was a significant difference between those cookies and our first attempts/failures in the French meringue macarons. Our French meringue macaron failures resulted in feetless and cracked shells, as for the Italian meringue macaron failure – the result was neither feetless nor cracked but rather fluffy cookies. I think the main problem was that the almonds we used were very coarsely ground.

We've written before about making macarons in a humid climate and how challenging this could be. With all the dehumidification, dehydration and drying needed. Well, if living in a humid climate one could not escape of these steps neither with the French nor with the Italian meringue methods when it comes to macaron success. But I find that the Italian meringue leads to better results in a humid environment, or at least in our humid environment. Of course we are still drying the almonds and the egg whites in the oven on a defrosting function for a couple of hours before using. And no matter the air dehumidifier works all the time the macaron shells still need to rest for at least 2 hours to form a skin.

But despite all the humidity issues I think the Italian meringue method forms a thicker batter. This time we even had nipples on the macaron shells(that aren't very desirable but whatsoever).

As a base recipe for the shells we used Pierre Herme's chocolate macaron recipe which we got from the demonstration we'd attended (the same is featured in Macaron).

But as we were short in almonds and had only 128 grams of them, we had to adjust the recipe but still kept Monsieur Herme's proportions.

Italian Meringue Chocolate Macarons Recipe:
  • 51 gr cocoa paste or 100% dark chocolate;
  • 128 gr ground almonds;
  • 128 gr confectioners' sugar;
  • 47 gr aged egg whites;
  • +
  • 128 gr granulated sugar;
  • 32 gr distilled water;
  • 47 gr aged egg whites;
Sift the confectioners' sugar and ground almonds into a large bowl then add the first portion of egg whites. The recipe says no need to mix it, but we are mixing it.

Melt the 100% chocolate in the microwave taking care not to burn it.

Make the Italian meringue. In a saucepan combine water and granulated sugar and bring to a boil. When the syrup reaches 115ºC, in a separate bowl, start beating the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks. Once the syrup reaches 118ºC, pour it slowly on to the whites, beating all the time. Keep beating till the mixture cools to 50ºC. Remove the beaters.

Fold the Italian meringue into the confectioners' sugar-ground almonds-egg whites mixture. Then fold in the melted chocolate.

Line 2-3 baking pans with paper or silpat.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (we use № 7) and pipe about 3 cm large rounds leaving 2cm space between them. Tap the pan on the counter several times to bring up any air bubbles.

Let the macarons rest to form a skin. At the end they should not be tacky on touch.

Preheat the oven to 160º C. Bake for around 12 minutes. During baking quickly open and shut the oven door twice to let the steam escape.

Remove from the paper and let cool on a wire rack. (If not using immediately, store the shells in an airtight container.)

For the Filling:
  • 100 ml heavy cream;
  • 100 gr dark chocolate (we used Cacao Barry's Mexique chocolate);
  • 35 gr butter;
  • 50 gr candied citrus peel, cut in small pieces.
Combine cream and candied citrus peel and bring to a simmer. Set aside. Melt the chocolate (we are doing this in the microwave), but beware not to burn it. When the cream is around 50ºC, pour it over the melted chocolate and stir to obtain a smooth ganache. Add in the butter. Mix well.

Place a plastic wrap directly onto the ganache to prevent forming a skin and put in the fridge for half an hour to set.

Fill a pastry bag with the ganache and couple the macaron shells with a good twist of ganache. Store the macarons in an airtight container in the fridge. Let them rest for 24 hours before eating.

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