Thursday, November 4, 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Macarons

While my husband and I were in Paris for our honeymoon, we of course sampled many of the culinary delights this beautiful city had to offer and even managed to satisfy my seemingly insatiable sweet tooth.   Chocolate croissants, nutella and banana crepes, chocolate tarts, cream filled beignets, coconut flan, panacotta, crème brulee, chocolate truffles - you name it, there’s a very good chance we consumed it.  One of our favorite dessert items was the dainty little macarons from Laduree.  You take that first bite and it’s like you’re floating off to a happy place – there’s that hard exterior shell, immediately followed by the soft and chewy interior …and finally, you hit the gold mine.  The creamy deliciousness that is the filling inside the macaron.     
We came back to NYC thinking we had eaten enough sweets to last us at least a week; but alas, our craving for the macaron was too strong.  And so, I decided to attempt to recreate those morsels of bliss. 

As you can see from the pictures, they are not quite up to Laduree standards.  I had some issues with controlling the size of my macarons (fortunately, my husband and I don’t have a problem with bigger cookies).  Also, the pan I had on the lower rack of the oven overbaked and came out flattened and slightly on the crispy side (also didn’t stop us from devouring them all).  Needless to say, I would say it was successful for the first try, and I’ll definitely be trying this recipe again before Thanksgiving!
Trying to beat those egg whites

My delicious unevenly shaped macarons

Raspberry Chocolate French Macarons 
Gourmet Magazine, December 2006
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 min
Yield:  2.5 dozen cookies
For macarons
6 oz sliced blanched almonds (not slivered; 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Red or pink food coloring
For chocolate raspberry ganache
3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (60 to 64% cacao), finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/16 teaspoon raspberry extract (preferably McCormick brand)
Special equipment: parchment paper; a gallon-size sealable plastic bag (not pleated)
Make macarons:
1.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.  Pulse almonds with 1/2 cup confectioners sugar in a food processor until very finely ground, 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Sift in remaining cup confectioners sugar, stirring to combine.
3.  Beat egg whites with salt in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, a little at a time, beating, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks.

4.  Add drops of food coloring to reach desired shade and mix at low speed until evenly combined. Stir almond mixture into meringue with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. (Meringue will deflate.)
5.  Spoon batter into bag, pressing out excess air, and snip off 1 corner of plastic bag to create a 1/4-inch opening. Twist bag firmly just above batter, then pipe peaked mounds of batter (the size of a chocolate kiss) onto lined sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Let cookies stand, uncovered, at room temperature until tops are no longer sticky and a light crust forms, 20 to 30 minutes.
6.  Meanwhile, put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until crisp and edges are just slightly darker, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on sheets on racks, about 30 minutes.
Make ganache while macarons bake
7. Melt chocolate with cream in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water or in top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. (Bowl should not touch water.) Remove bowl from heat, then add butter and raspberry extract, stirring until butter is melted. Let stand at room temperature until cooled completely and slightly thickened.
Assemble cookies
8. Carefully peel cookies from parchment (they will be fragile). Sandwich a thin layer of ganache (about 1/2 teaspoon) between flat sides of cookies.
Cooks' note: Filled macarons keep in an airtight container at room temperature 3 days.


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