Food for Thought: Macarons That Will Melt in Your Mouth
The macaroon, a baked confection that lies halfway between a cookie and a meringue, can be found in many forms around the world.
In its original Italian form it was known as macarone, a name meaning “fine paste,” as ground almonds were a major ingredient. It was later known as macaron in France, where it was given many different colors and flavors, en route to becoming adapted to the British favorite macaroon, commonly made with coconut.
Even Indonesia has its own version, known as kue kelapa, or coconut cake, mostly found in Manado, North Sulawesi.
The French variety, made in a range of delicious flavors such as chocolate, coffee, pistachio, hazelnut and raspberry — in a rainbow of colors to match — is now enjoying a renaissance as a cafe favorite around the world.
This sugary delight is a delicate concoction of ground almonds, caster sugar and egg whites, baked into puffs and sandwiched together with a rich, flavored cream known as ganache.
These days, French macarons can be found in cafes and patisseries across Jakarta. They look so stylish in cake shop windows and dessert displays, and they can even be found in supermarkets.
The benefit of making your own macarons at home is that you can use the best ingredients, making for a real treat to have with your coffee. For this week’s recipe I have prepared light-as-air chocolate macarons with a heavy chocolate ganache. Enjoy!
Sweet and bitter chocolate macarons with chocolate ganache
This recipe produces the classic French macaron effect: crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and filled with a silky smooth ganache.
Makes about 32.
For the macarons: 4 egg whites; 120 grams caster sugar; 130 grams almond flakes, processed until fine (or buy ground almonds); 170 grams icing sugar; 50 grams cocoa powder with 50 percent cocoa; 1/8 teaspoon salt.
For the ganache: 150 milliliters whipping cream; 150 grams dark chocolate with 70 percent cocoa, chopped; 30 grams butter, cut into small pieces; 1/8 teaspoon salt.
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, prepare two trays lined with baking paper. Using a small glass or pastry cutter, trace 4-centimeter-diameter circles onto the baking paper with a pencil, about 2 centimeters apart. This is to help you form evenly sized macarons.
2.Sift the ground almond, icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
3. Whisk the egg whites and salt together in a large bowl. As soon as the egg starts to thicken, add the caster sugar and continue whisking at a high speed until the mixture is stiff. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down and have nothing fall out.
4. Add the dry ingredients and mix well, making sure the mixture is not too thick.
5. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a 1-centimeter nozzle and carefully fill the circles on the baking trays.
6. Leave to rest for 30 minutes before baking in the oven for 15 to 16 minutes, or until the macarons form hard shells.
7. Once cooked, removed the macarons from the oven, slide the baking paper off the tray and leave to cool.
8. To make the ganache, heat the cream in a small pan until is it just beginning to simmer, then turn the heat off. Add the chopped chocolate, leave it to melt for 1 to 2 minutes, then stir until smooth. Add the butter, then finish with a pinch of salt. Mix well, and set aside to set.
9. Match equally sized macarons into pairs and then, using a small knife or spoon, sandwich them together with the chocolate ganache. Serve immediately.