PREPARE THE SALTY CHOCOLATE GARNISH
- The day before, crush the salt either in a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin between two sheets of parchment.
- Melt the chocolate between 113F (45C) and 122F (50C). You can use a microwave set to low or over a bain-marie.
- Stir the salt into the melted chocolate; Pour the warm chocolate into a freezer zip lock bag and smooth the chocolate into a thin layer. Seal the bag well.
Warm salty chocolate to be used for the garnish,
- Lay the bag of chocolate flat in the refrigerator and let harden until needed.
MISE ENPLACE THE MACARON SHELLS
- Preheat your oven to 300 - 325F. Keep in mind that the convection creates a hotter environment for the cookies. If the oven gets too hot, the shells could rise too quickly and crack the shell.
- Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Line the two trays with two trays With the long edge facing you, draw 4 circles along the top edge of the paper, spacing them about an inch apart. For the second row, trace three circles spacing them between the first circles. Then trace 4 circles for the third row and 3 circles for the fourth row. You will have 14 circles in total on each sheet.
Preparing the parchment before mixing the macaron batter.
- Lightly spray the trays, flip the paper over (ink side down), and adhere the parchment. This will keep the parchment flat during baking.
- Sift the flour/sugar mixture through a medium mesh sieve into the large wide bowl. If bits are too big for the sieve, run them through the food processor again until they pass. This step is important because it makes for an evenly textured macaron shell, and prevents lumpy shells.
The almonds and sugar are a unified powder.
- Chop the unsweetened chocolate and put it in a bowl over a pan of just-simmering water, leaving it to melt and reach a temperature of 122F/50C. Once the chocolate is melted, set aside to let it cool slightly.
- Divide the egg whites into two equal portions.
- Mix the food colouring into one portion of egg whites and this portion to the bowl with the icing sugar and almonds. Mix together.
The red food colouring give the chocolate shell a richer tone.
COMPLETING THE MACARON SHELLS
- Turn the heat to low and stir to dissolve the sugar and water. Stir constantly until the mixture is clear and the sugar is no longer visible. Stop stirring and raise the heat.
- When the syrup has reached 203F, reduce the heat.
The hot sugar syrup reaching temperature.
- Set the speed to medium low, breaking up the mass of egg whites. Slowly increase the speed to medium high. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Please consult The Finer Cookie's How to Whip Egg Whites
- Return to the sugar syrup, and increase the heat. Without stirring, bring the syrup to 248F. As soon as it reaches temperature, turn off the mixer and slowly pour the hot syrup between the whisk and the side of the bowl, being careful not to let the hot sugar touch the whisk. Turn the mixer to high to incorporate the hot sugar and repeat until all the meringue and the syrup are incorporated. The egg whites will increase in volume and let off a lot of steam.
- Let the mixer run for approximately 5 minutes to cool the meringue.
- After 5 minutes, the bottom of the bowl will still be warm, but the meringue will be cool, not cold. Keep in mind, that as the sugar cools, the meringue will become stiffer. You want the meringue to remain flexible, so don't allow the meringue to cool too much.
- Fold about 1/3 of the meringue into the melted chocolate, then fold the rest of the meringue to the bowl with the icing sugar and almonds.
Folding melted chocolate into Italian meringue.
- Fold the chocolate meringue into the meringue with the sugar and almonds.
Finished macaron batter at the correct consistency.
CRITICAL STEP FOR SUCCESSFUL MACARONS
- It is at this point, you want the meringue to deflate, be shiny, and pour off your spatula into thick ribbons that dissolve into itself very slowly. You are looking for a batter with a specific consistency that takes time to develop. As you fold the batter, it will deflate and loosen a little at a time. This is what you want. You will be wondering: "Am I there yet?" If you're asking, you're probably not. The longer you fold the batter, the smoother it will become. As it loosens, it won't hang on to your spatula. It will flow off your spatula in thick ribbons. Is the batter melting into itself? If not, keep folding You want the thick ribbons to slowly dissolve. Time yourself in one minute intervals. It usually takes me 3-4 minutes to get the right consistency. It is possible to go past the optimum texture. If you do, the batter will be a bit runny and liquefy. It won't hold its ribbon and will melt into itself fast. When properly mixed, the baked macarons will have a little foot on the bottom where the eggs have risen. Each foot should be the same thickness on each cookie.
UNDERSTANDING THE MACARON
- The loftier the egg white foam/meringue, the more rise you will get on the cookie and the more cracking will occur because of the rising. In other words, if you are making a soufflé, you want to keep the loft because you want the meringue to rise. When making macaron, you don't want a lot of rise. Deflating the meringue will allow the shell to rise only a little without cracking or heaving. The finished shell will be on the thin side.
PIPING THE SHELLS
- When you feel you've arrived at the right texture, fill a large pastry bag with the batter. The batter should still be thick so that it won't run out the tip, and will be very easy to pipe.
- Holding the bag straight up and down, pipe enough batter to fill the inside of the circle. The batter will gentle spread the entire diameter of the circle and the nipple left by the tip will melt away. It's important not to hold the bag off the side because the cookie will bake unevenly.
- Keep count in your head as you pipe, and use the same count for each circle.
- Be careful not to pipe too much batter into each circle, or add more batter to those that don't have enough.
- The finished cookie should be flat, thin and shiny.
Macaron batter piped and resting before baking.
BAKING THE SHELLS
- After you pipe the shells, let them rest for at least 30 minutes. You will see the meringue settle out, become smoother and shinier, and the nipple left by the piping bag should melt away. Resting the meringue will also allow a dry skin to form over the surface, which forces the air out the bottom (this creates the famous macaron foot).
- Bake at 300F with convection for 10-12 minutes, one tray at a time in the lower to middle of the oven.
- Avoid the top rack as the temperature could be too hot. If you have a convection oven, you can place two trays at the same time.
- If you use the standard oven setting, bake at 325F maximum for 10-15 minutes, opening and shutting the oven door twice during the cooking time to let the steam escape.
- They are done when the shells feel set and the tops are shiny and crisp.
- Let trays cool on a wire rack, and then peel the cookies off the paper and let cool completely.
The foot developed nicely on the macaron shells.
DIRECTIONS FOR THE GANACHE
- Cut the butter into pieces and set aside.
- Put the chopped chocolate into a bowl and set aside.
- Warm the cream gently and heat until steam is rising off the surface. Don't let the cream get too hot as it will separate the chocolate.
- Pour about a third of hot cream onto the chopped chocolate, mixing thoroughly.
- Repeat until all the cream has been added to the chocolate.
- Allow the chocolate mixture to cool to 122F/50C.
- Add the chopped butter and beat until smooth.
Adding butter is the final step to making the chocolate ganache.
- Pour the ganache into a wide dish.
Pouring the ganache into a wide dish helps to cool the chocolate faster.
- Let cool until thick enough to pipe. Can be refrigerated overnight if necessary.
FINISHING THE SALTY CHOCOLATE GARNISH
- Remove the flat, cold chocolate from the fridge and peel away the plastic bag from the chocolate.
Peeling away the plastic bag from the salty chocolate garnish.
- With a mallet or a muddler , break the chocolate into small pieces.
Breaking the salty chocolate garnish for the center of the macaron.
- Collect the small pieces and put them in a bowl and set back in the fridge until ready.
TO ASSEMBLE THE MACARONS
Spoon the ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a #9 plain round tip
This is a #9 Ateco pastry tip with a coupler.
Spooning the chocolate ganache into the prepared pastry bag.
- Pipe around the outside edge and fill the center
I start at the outside edge of the macaron shell.
Working my way through the tray of macaron shells.
Chocolate macaron shells with the chocolate ganache filling.
- Sprinkle the salty chocolate garish in the center of each shell then top the chopped chocolate with a dab of ganache.
Adding the salty chocolate ganache.
Dabbing the hard chocolate pieces with more ganache.
- Cover the ganache with another shell, twisting lightly so that the filling spreads evenly.
Completing the chocolate macaron.
- Store covered in the fridge for at least 24 hours to allow the inside of the macaron shells to soften.
- Bring back to room temperature before eating.