Monday, April 30, 2007

Chocolate-Strawberry Macarons

After reading through Zinnur of Our Patisserie's adventures with macarons, I decided it was time to try them myself. Luckily for me, I had the benefit of her experiences to draw from, as well as those from David Lebovitz's blog (he's in France, where they have ingenious recipes like Salted Caramel Ice Cream. -droooooools-) I decided to use David's recipe, with a few minor changes. The end result was gorgeous: crunchy, chewy, sweet and fruity all at once. My ganache for the center was a little too soft: I didn't drain the strawberry juice before adding the puree because I wanted to keep the full flavor. In retrospect this was a mistake; next time I would add the juice to the cream and boil it a little.

Macaron Batter
* 1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
* ½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces , 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
* 3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
* 2 large egg whites, at room temperature* 5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
* ½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream* 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
* 4 ounces (120 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon (15 gr) butter, cut into small pieces

Strawberry Filling
* 15 medium strawberries (pitted), about 5 ounces (150 gr) strawberries
* 2½ ounces (70 gr) best-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
* 2 tablespoons Amaretto

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn't quite fine enough. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the countertop to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

Strawberry Filling:
Smash the strawberries with a fork until you have a rough puree. Using a sieve and a wooden spoon, push the strawberry juice into a small saucepan. Keep the pulp. Melt the milk chocolate and the Armagnac in a double boiler or microwave, stirring until smooth. Stir into the strawberry puree. Cool completely to room temperature (it will thicken when cool.)

To make the chocolate filling:
Heat the cream in the small saucepan with the corn syrup and strawberry juice. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, turn down the heat so it simmers for 2-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.

Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macarons then sandwich them together. (You can pipe the filling it, but I prefer to spread it by hand; it's more fun, I think.)I also tend to overfill them so you may or may not use all the filling.

Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macarons

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