07 July, 2010

French Macaron Biscuits with Chocolate Ganache

Well this week I was bitten by the masterchef bug and today for the first time in my life I made French macaron biscuits.

Kylie was really the instigator but the bug hit me pretty quickly, sort of like a fast moving virus. I HAD to see if I could do it. After googling and reading everyones' horror stories and failures I was totally prepared for a dismal flop but very oddly for me they worked! I don't think they'd sell in a French Patisserie but they sure as hell made fine eating!

We sandwiched them with a chocolate cream ganache.

Some refinement is needed though. I'd go slightly lower on the oven temperature and make them smaller next time and I'd also cook them one batch at a time on the middle shelf of the oven as a few were a touch browner than I would have liked.

BUT overall I'd say today was a success and a big thank you goes to Kylie for helping and keeping me company while I cooked. It's her turn on the weekend and she is going to attempt a double batch, or so she has told me.

Now I want to play with all sorts of fillings and then the next step after that will be to make different flavoured macarons...............but that's for the future.

This is the recipe I used with a few amendments of my own that came from google research! http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2007/10/how-to-make-macarons-recipe.html
If you go to the original you will see the differences.

Basic Macaron Biscuits
225g icing sugar
125g gound almonds
110g egg whites (we used 3 and a half), aged overnight at room temperature
30g icing sugar extra
pinch of salt

Using a texta draw 2.5cm circles on sheets of baking paper (ours made 31 single biscuits but our circles were bigger than that, we used a toothpick holder to draw them)
Turn the paper over so that you don't pipe the mixture on to the texta and place on baking trays
Sieve the almond meal and the icing sugar separately and then sieve them both together into a bowl to make sure the mix has no lumps and is very fine, mix thoroughly
Beat the egg whites in another bowl with the salt till soft peaks form and then add the extra icing sugar gradually, beating till you have stiff peaks (you are basically making a meringue mix)
Gently fold the icing sugar mixture (in small batches) in to the egg whites till it reaches what a lot of people call the "flows like magma" stage...which sort of means when you pick a bit up with your spatula and drop it back down on the mixture it dissolves back in to the mixture slowly
Using a piping bag with a 1cm round tip, pipe the mixture on to the prepared circles (or go freehand!)
Tap the baking sheets to remove air bubbles
Let dry for half an hour so a skin forms on the top of each biscuit
Bake in a 180oC oven (I'd use 160 next time, like the original said) for 10 to 11 minutes, with the door propped slightly open with a wooden spoon, turning the tray/s around after 5 minutes for even cooking
Remove from the oven and transfer the baking paper to cooling racks
Whe cool use a thin spatula to remove them from the paper (if this doesn't work I have read that you can put the baking paper on a wet teatowel and that helps remove them, though we had no trouble and didn't even need a spatula)
Pair the biscuits in similar sizes and pipe (or freehand) about a teaspoon of the filling onto one biscuit and sandwich with his mate

Chocolate Cream Ganache Filling
230g chocolate (I used 70% lindt)
1 cup heavy cream
60g butter, softened

Chop the chocolate finely and place in a heatproof bowl
Cream the butter with beaters
Heat the cream till just at boiling and add to the chocolate and stir to melt
Let cool slightly then stir in the butter with a spatula in 2 lots
Cool to a spreadable consistency, I used the fridge to cool it down, but keep an eye on it as it can set pretty quickly
IF it does set too much nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it again


Homemade Salty Caramels.....yum yum yum

The July Australian Good Food magazine came with an added bonus....a little cookbook called "Winter Warmers" and on the back page (courtesy of saxa salt) was a recipe for chewy salted caramels with white chocolate. Now for anyone who knows me I LOVE salt so I just had to make them, it became imperative!

The first time I tried them I didn't cook the caramel for long enough and they didn't set so I had to scrape it all back into the pan and recook it and then because the pans I was going to use were dirty I decided to use mini muffin cases (the paper ones) and I didn't spray them with oil so they sort of stuck a bit..........though I did get used to the taste of paper after a while.......it added a whole new dimension to the word "texture".

But one failure has never really stopped me so I decided to try again yesterday and this time they worked! Mind you this was after I went out and bought 2 X 12 silicone mini muffin pans last week. I got lucky, they were on special at Target.

So here is the recipe and what I changed in brackets after each bit. Thanks Aussie Good Food magazine and saxa salt.

Chewy Salted Caramels with White Chocolate
makes 24 (and it DOES too!)
250g caster sugar (I used normal granulated)
1 cup (250ml) double thick cream (I used thickened cream)
2tbsp liquid glucose (I always wondered what I was going to do with the rest of the jar, now I need to buy more)
30g salted butter
3tsp Saxa Sea Salt Flakes (sorry saxa, I used normal cooking salt)
200g white chocolate, chopped

Grease 2 X 12 hole mini muffin pans
Place sugar, cream, glucose, butter and sea salt in a heavy based (and LARGE 'cause it boils up a fair bit) pan on medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves
Increase heat to med/high and boil for 6-7 minutes (no way, this was my mistake the first time, boil till it reaches a brown caramel colour and the bubbles look weird!) until mixture reaches 118oC on a sugar thermometer (see I don't have one of those, have to go on sight and feel)
Divide among prepared pans and stand for 3-4 hours till firm (otherwise when you unmould them they will spread over time!)
(I also put a very small sprinkle of Murray River salt flakes on the top of the caramels before they set and before I added the white chocolate layer and it was YUM........I did mention how much I like salt didn't I?)
Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (nah, no way, do it in the microwave in 30 second bursts till melted, checking and stirring after every 30 seconds)
Spoon over each caramel, tap gently on the bench (this is to even the tops out) to settle chocolate and stand for 2-3 hours (no way, white chocolate sets a lot faster than that!) until set
Remove from mould and put a sign on them saying "only for people I REALLY REALLY REALLY love!

This week I've been sucked in by the Masterchef macaron bug and I've had my egg whites sitting out all night in preparation for a day of macaron failure! Will let you know how it goes.........googling macarons could have been a mistake..........failure seems to be the order of the day.

Oh and the recipe I used the mole sauce in a while ago is coming soon........stay tuned.