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.
One of my best memories is eating a traditional French macaron at Harrods in London 12 years ago. A delicate, light, crunchy exterior with a sweet luscious filling. They were about the size of your palm, and I think we went back to Harrods a few times just to buy more. I haven’t had a real macaron that delicious since. This challenge made me crave those macarons and want to recreate them. Was I successful in this endeavor? No way. But, it was still a fun challenge.
I made two kinds of macarons. One plain almond with a white chocolate eggnog ganache filling. The second was a chocolate macaron with chocolate ganache.
The shape, texture and overall appearance of my macarons was not so great. They had no feet. Not even a toe. I was pretty bummed about that, as well as the rounded and bumpy tops that made it impossible for the cookies to sit neatly on their platter. Somewhere along the way something went terribly wrong.
The upside is that both kinds of macarons tasted lovely. Delicate, crunchy exteriors with a soft, sweet interior. I also didn’t have any sticking issues, so that was another positive about my macaron experience.
The baking method in the Daring Bakers recipe did not work so well for me: bake for 5 minutes at 200, then remove the cookies, heat the oven to 375, then return them to the oven for 7 minutes. Maybe my oven doesn’t warm up fast enough, but I felt that this had a negative, flattening effect on my cookies. So, my second batch was baked for 12 minutes at 375. Much better! The rose more and had more even looking tops. I would recommend this modification.
Since I have been feeling very festive these days, the eggnog seemed like a fun and appropriate filling. It was incredibly easy to make and incredibly yummy.
White Chocolate Eggnog Ganache
- 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup eggnog
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Place the white chocolate in a large bowl.
- Place the eggnog in a small saucepan until it just begins to bubble around the edges.
- Pour the hot eggnog over the chocolate immediately, and let it melt the chocolate for a minute.
- Whisk the mixture carefully, trying not to incorporate too many air bubbles, until it is smooth and fully mixed.
- Sprinkle the nutmeg over the mixture, and stir until mixed.
- Cover the top with cling wrap, and allow it cool to room temperature.
- Once it is lukewarm, place it in the refrigerator to firm up, at least 4 hours or overnight.
The chocolate macaron recipe is from Dave Lebovitz. I must have done something wrong here, because this is was came out of my oven!
I know. Not pretty, and still, no feet. However, they also tasted sweet and wonderful. The chocolate ganache was simple, just cream and chopped chocolate, but delicious nonetheless and a great filling for these cookies.
Here is the recipe for the plain macarons. I used almond meal instead of almond flour which I reccomend grinding a bit with the powdered sugar as it is a bit too coarse.
French Almond Macarons
- Confectioners’ 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. 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. 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 macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F. 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.