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Monday, 17 February 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut macaroons

After quite a bit of recipe searching, video watching and failed attempts I do believe I have actually got much better at making french macaroons.  The saying "practice makes perfect" is true.  I read somewhere that it is suggested that when you make macaroons expect to over mix the first time, under mix the second and get it perfect the third.  I was lucky on the my second attempt (but failed the third and forth).  

This recipe is slightly adapted from a recipe by Edd Kimber (The Boy who Bakes).  Instead of his process of turing the sugar in to syrup and adding to the eggs I have simply added the caster sugar while whisking the eggs.  Added cocoa for colouring and used a small amount of cream of tartar to help stabilise the eggs.  

The key is to completely grind the almonds, icing sugar and hazelnuts together for much longer than you think.  Almost 7 minutes in the processor, stopping once or twice to scrape up the icing sugar from the bottom of the bowl.  Sifting takes time and can be a bit of a pain but it is very important.  Mixing is the bit where it can all go wrong...I think I have mastered it now, simply fold and cut until the mixture is one colour then stop.

I printed off a large sheet of A3 paper with equal sized rounds and then placed a sheet of non-stick baking parchment over the top.  I have found this the best way to make sure all your macs are the same size and to stop the stress of drawing each one out by hand.

So, here is a recipe for chocolate hazelnut macaroons.  Have a go, just don't shout at me if your first attempt does not go to plan.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Chocolate Orange Macaroons (1st attempt)

To start this month I really wanted to something more technical than my normal range of recipes.   Last summer was the first time I had ever tired a french macaroon and it is something that I always thought about making.  I had watched contestents make them on 'The Great British Bake Off' to various degress of success so I knew that it would be a challenge.             

Ingredient wise macaroons are very simple - almond, egg whites and sugar with a filling, unfortunately although limited in ingredients the things you do need tend to be costly.  Ground almonds make up the bulk of the recipe and in the amounts you need will end up costing the most.  Then you need egg whites, another costly ingredient, especially when you throw away the yolks.  


My advice to try and reduce the cost is to buy your ground almonds from local shops that supply the indian community.  I found a large bag of ground almonds (250g) for £2.99.  The solution to the egg white issue is to hunt around your local supermarket (Tesco, Sainsbury or Waitrose are stockists) for cartons of egg whites.  Normally found in the butter/cream area although you may need to ask.  If you intend on making lots of macs I would highly reccommend the egg white carton.  You MUST weigh/measure the egg whites, this is very important.  

As this is my first attempt I am being very honest with the results.  They tasted great and the crisp/chewy texture was perfect (I made sure I sampled some from M&S so I knew what I was looking for) but I know I didn't get the texture right when piping.  You will see from the images that they looked like little puddles of mixture when actually they should stand taller and 'peak' when piped.  I didn't get a peak and found the mixture leaked out the piping bag as I went so the whole experience became rather messy.  I hope it was beginners error.

I tried to colour my macs orange, using paste colouring,  but as you can see from the photo they are not very orange.  I think powdered colours are best and when I try again I will make sure I use them.  Do not use liquid coluring as this may make the mixture too loose and you wuill ruin your mixture.

I made a simple ganache for my filling - chocolate, cream and orange extract.  At first I had a very glossy mixture and it looked and tasted perfect, however while it cooled I didn't notice it splitting a little and the glossy look became very oily.  The next day the chocolate had set and looked fine.

One final area that I think is important to consider when baking macs is the use of non-stick parchment.  I used my normal baking parchment (shiny side up) and have some success however I did have to use a spatular to remove them and found that some of the insides stuck.  Hunting around the net I found a number of recipes, most recommending the using of baking parchment as I used, but  a couple recommended purchasing good quality non-stick baking lining - John Lewis is a good stockist.  I am going to make sure I get some for my next batch and will update this post with the details as soon as I do.

This recipe is a combination of ideas I found on the internet.  As you see from the images they worked.  I think my issue is getting the texture right when folding the mixture together just before piping.  My mix was very runny and difficult to pipe.  I would recommend that you hunt around YouTube for videos on making macs before baking your own.  That way you can watch how the mixture should fall back in to the bowl instead of just looking at images.