Thursday, December 20, 2012
Using Up the Egg Whites
Time has been flying! I finally looked at my photo set and discovered that I never posted about some cookies I made a couple of weeks ago. Making two coconut cream pies had left me with quite a lot of egg whites. My favorite thing to do with egg whites is to make macrons. The crispy shell of the cookie shatters when you bite down, which is when you discover the chewy inside and the delicious filling.
I decided to make two flavors in one batch. The simple one was chocolate cookies and ganache filling. The second half was raspberry. I used some freeze dried raspberries to flavor them and raspberry jam for filling. Both are fairly traditional and not odd flavor combinations, but the chocolate goes well with the raspberry, so you could easily switch out the fillings and still have awesome macrons.
Since I didn't want all the seeds from the dried raspberries, I decided to grind them up with a little bit of powdered sugar and then put that through a fine mesh strainer. There are still tiny bits of raspberry in the cookie but no chunks that way. I forgot to add food coloring, so they are pale, pale pink. Pretty tasty, especially with the red jam as filling.
The part I often forget about is that you need to make the batter, pipe them onto the baking sheets, and then wait at least 30 minutes before you bake them. That helps create the little 'feet' and round smooth tops. My tops were not smooth and one batch had no feet, but they still were wonderful to eat.
Two Kinds of Macrons - Chocolate with Ganache and Raspberry with Raspberry Jam
90 gr egg whites (about 3)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds
1/4 cup cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred) for the chocolate half of the batter
3 tablespoons freeze dried raspberries (or 2 tablespoons powdered raspberries)
Prepare the macrons: in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Divide meringue in half (in two bowls) if making two flavors from one batch as I did.
Place the half the almonds, half the powdered sugar and all of the cocoa in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to one bowl of meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes.
Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macrons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit.
Place 1/4 cup powdered sugar and all of the dried raspberries in the food processor and process until the raspberries are as fine as possible. Strain the mixture into a small bowl, discarding the pieces too large to go through a fine mesh strainer. (If using powdered raspberries, just add to the food processor and continue with recipe.) Place the strained mixture, half the almonds, and the remaining powdered sugar in the food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add this mixture to the second bowl of meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes.
Pipe this mixture the same way you piped the chocolate macrons. Let these sit out for 30 minutes too.
Preheat the oven to 280F and then bake macrons for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. Remove from pan.
If you have trouble removing the baked macrons, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macrons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy.
Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. When ready, fill with ganache or jam.
Semisweet Chocolate Ganache Filling
Heat ¼ cup heavy cream in the microwave 1 minute on high power. Remove bowl from microwave and add 2 oz. of semisweet excellent quality chocolate that has been chopped finely. Stir with a small spatula, very gently, until chocolate melts and thoroughly combined. Avoid adding extra air.
Let cool 2-3 minutes, then put into a pastry bag and pipe about ½ tablespoon on half of the macarons on the flat side. Top with the other half of the macarons, rounded side up. Let the ganache firm up before serving.
Filling for Raspberry Macrons:
Fill them with best quality raspberry jam. Sandwich together as described above.