(disclaimer, I did not take this photograph, I absolutly took it from a flicker account, but she has lovely photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/amyrichardson/sets/72157615803522206/ click there to see them!)
I spent a month in Paris last year, eating, art gallery-ing and just generally being happy. It was glorious. Possibly the most glorious thing about it though was my that teeny tiny apartment that I rented was a block away from Pierre Herme. Sometimes known as the Picasso of Pastries. Words can not begin to describe the croissants there, and I will try, and I promise I will try to make them soon and post the recipe. But the thing hes possibly most famous for are his macarons. Macarons are the perfect dainty little rounds of almond meringue sandwiched between a perfect mound of buttercream icing. They are coloured so bakeries have trays of brightly coloured cookies, pink for rose, green for pistachio, purple for violet. A good macaron is very very light with a smooth crisp exterior with a moist, but not undercooked centre and an extremely flavourful filling.
There are a few tricks to get here. Firstly, make them a day ahead and put them partially covered in your fridge over night. Sound crazy? The fridge is so moist that it helps make the interiors moister and helps the melding of the icing and the cookies. Secondly, take your time! Macarons are not something to rush through. Take your time piping them to make them the same size and when your piping the icing inside. Thirdly, forget what you know about folding in egg whites. You need to be a little rough with them, the egg whites as they start to collapse they become more liquid. You don’t want them to completely collapse, but you want to make the it soft so the tops of the meringues are soft and not peaked. That might sound hard but you’ll get a feel for it as you do it, I promise!
Because Valentines day is approaching I made mine heart shaped which is actually very easy, but you could also just make the traditional circles. I also had a jar of chocolate raspberry sauce in my fridge so i used that as the filling so I will give you the recipe for that as well as the basic ganache recipe.
150g powdered almonds
150g powdered sugar
55g egg whites
15g red food colouring
For the meringue:
150g granulated sugar
55g egg whites
Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Put in your egg whites
Combine first four ingredients into a paste in a bowl
Heat up sugar and water to 115C
As soon as it hits 115C Start whisking your egg whites.
When the thermometer hits 118C very slowly add in the hot sugar mixture. Carefully have it hit the side of the bowl as you pour it in, otherwise it will hit the whisk and splatter on the sides of the bowl and you will loose a lot of sugar.
Once you are finished adding the sugar keep whisking until it comes down to 50C, or just warm when you feel the side of the bowl.
Add half of the meringue mixture into the almond mixture until combined.
Add the remaining meringue in and mix it until it doesn’t hold soft peaks. If you over mix it it will become completely liquid, so this will take some practise.
Put it into piping bags and pipe onto parchment lined sheets.
Let sit for about an hour until a crust forms on the top.
Bake at 350F for 12 minutes. There should be no colour on the tops of the cookies. They should be quite wet inside still if you break one open. Let them cool on the baking sheets.
3/4 cup Chocolate Raspberry Sauce (I used Cocolico brand, you can buy it at most whole foods)
1 cup melted chocolate.
1/2 cup Soft butter.
Combine all ingredients and put into a piping bag.
1 cup good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped.
1 cup heavy cream
Bring cream up to a boil. Pour over chocolate and stir to combine. Allow to cool for about an hour and then put into a piping bag.
Pipe the filling into the macarons, and sandwich them together.
An hour later carefully squish them together more, this will make them less likely to come apart.
Leave them partially covered in the fridge over night if you have time, but of course they will be delicious right away as well!