Sunday, February 3, 2013

Coffee Macarons with Bailey's and Chocolate Ganache

Macarons have been on my list of things to attempt, but all the literature out there seemed to suggest that baking macarons was some real magical voodoo type stuff, and that the slightest misstep would ruin everything. Honestly though, these weren’t too difficult to turn out. Now I’m not saying that I’m a master of the macarons afer one decent looking batch, just that if you take your time and follow the recipe carefully you shouldn’t fear the macaron.

Coffee Macarons
90 grams egg whites (3 eggs) (aged at least 24 hours – see below)
110 grams almonds (use slivered almonds – not the sliced ones with some skin still on the outside)
1.5 teaspoons ground coffee or espresso powder
200 grams confectioners (powdered) sugar
30 grams granulated sugar

A day or two before you bake:
Separate the whites from the yolks of 3 eggs and refrigerate the whites for 24 hours or up to 5 days. You’re looking for 90 grams of egg whites by weight. This step is to eliminate moisture from the egg whites, which helps thicken the batter. Before you start making your macarons, remove the egg whites from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.

Step 1: Prepare the dry ingredients:

I found it helpful to use a coffee grinder for this step, but if you don’t have one you can just use a food processor. Add the coffee to the grinder (I used regular coffee grounds, but I wanted to break them down a bit. If you use espresso powder, you may be able to skip this step) and pulse to grind fine. Add to the bowl of a food processor. In two batches, add the slivered almonds to the coffee grinder, pulsing until fine. Add to the bowl of a food processor.

Add the powdered sugar to the food processor bowl, and run it for a few seconds to make sure everything is chopped and incorporated. The mix should be powder-y. Run the dry ingredients through a medium sieve (Too fine a sieve and you’ll run into issues getting everything through), sifting the mixture into a bowl. If there are pieces remaining at the bottom of the sieve, run them through a coffee grinder and back through the sieve and into the bowl.

Step 2: Make a meringue:

Add your room-temperature egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium/medium-high until the whites are good and foamy. Slowly pour in the 30 grams on granulated sugar, and whisk on medium-high until you get a glossy white meringue with stiff peaks. Keep an eye on the meringue, as overmixing will dry it out.

Step 3: Combine the ingredients:

Add the dry mixture into the meringue in two or three batches, carefully folding the mixture together to form a batter. The meringue should be completely incorporated into the dry ingredients, and the mixture should be thick and viscous. If you take a spoonful of batter and place it on a plate, it should hold its shape and the top should flatten. This is how you know the batter is ready.

Step 4: Piping and resting:

Prep two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½” tip (I used an Ateco #806, in case you’re interested about such minutiae) with the batter. If you’re not confident about your ability to pipe perfectly sized circles, use a pencil and a guide to draw 1.5” circles on a piece of parchment paper (I used the bottle cap of a growler that was lying around), and flip the paper over, pencil side down, so you don’t get graphite in your cookies. Pipe the batter into 1.5” rounds (too big and they won’t set up correctly in the oven – this happened on a few larger cookies that I freeform piped), spaced about ¾” apart from each other.

If the batter has little nubs on the top, you can bash the baking sheets against your counter 2 or three times to flatten them. This is also the time to shape your batter into perfect little rounds, in case you’re a perfectionist. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes up to an hour, to allow the tops to dry out. While that’s going on, preheat your oven to 400°F and make your ganache (recipe below).

Step 5: Bake and Finish:

Place your oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Add the two baking sheets, and immediately turn the temperature down to 300°F (the higher initial temp helps the cookies get a bit more spring) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The macarons are ready when the tops are set and you can lightly tap on the tops (they should feel hollow).

Remove from the oven and let rest on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Match up like-sized pairs, and spread ganache onto the bottom of one macaron and make a sandwich. The easiest way to do this is with a butter knife. Let the macarons rest for 24 hours in the fridge before eating for best results.

Bailey’s Chocolate Ganache:
150 g good quality chocolate
85 grams (100 ml, just over 1/3 of a cup) heavy cream
65 grams (1/4 cup) Bailey’s Irish Cream

In a small saucepan, heat the cream until boiling. Meanwhile, break the chocolate into small chunks and place in a medium bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes, then whisk to combine. If not all the chocolate has melted, place the bowl over a small pan of boiling water to create a double boiler (make sure the water in the pan doesn’t touch the bowl), and whisk until the chocolate is all melted. Remove from heat and add in Bailey’s, whisking to combine. Refrigerate until thickened and ready to use, 20 to 30 minutes.


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