12 Days of Desserts: Day 4
Sweet Almond Macarons Filled with White Chocolate Almond Ganache
At one time in my life I was very wary of macarons, eating or making them. But while in Southern California earlier this year, I decided to stop in at ‘Lette in Beverly Hills and give them a try. They were tasty but I was convinced I could make them better. So I did just that, I opened up my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook and found a recipe for macarons and began experimenting. First batch was good flavor wise but the shells burned a bit, but by the second batch I had my adjustments down and the macarons came out better than I expected, flavor and texture-wise. So now I share this recipe with you!
Sweet Almond Macarons
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Food coloring (I wanted ballet pink shells so I used a combination of red and blue liquid food coloring – you can also use powdered food coloring)
To make the macarons: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the almond extract and your food coloring. For ballet pink, I used 12 drops red and 4 drops blue. After the food coloring and almond extract have been folded in, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar-almond mixture until completely incorporated.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpat); set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. This can also be done by using a ziploc bag, simply fill the bag about 1/3 full and cut off about 3/4 inch of the corner. [Tip: When filling the pastry bag or ziploc – find a large glass and place the bag inside with the sides wrapping around the top edge of the glass, then add in your filling, the glass will help hold the bag for you so you can get your mixture down into the bottom of the bag, rather than having it all over the place]. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macarons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.
Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macarons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macarons from the parchment.
You can make the ganache filling either before you make the shells, or while the shells are baking. Just keep in mind that the filling will need time to set.
White Chocolate Almond Ganache
12 oz white chocolate chips/chunks
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Set aside the chocolate in a glass bowl with about 1 teaspoon of almond extract (you may need more, but I start with 1tsp). Bring 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream to a boil (look for bubbling around the edges), remove from heat, and pour over the chocolate. Stir until smooth.
Once everything is incorporated I would taste it and see if you need to add more almond extract (I love almond flavoring so I tend to add more, but that’s my personal preference). Then just pop it in the fridge for about 1 – 2 hours to set.
Once your shells are cool and the ganache is set, you’re ready to fill and construct your completed macarons. Let the ganache come up to room temperature before you start spreading it on the shells though, as they might crack if it’s too firm.
You can either pipe the ganache onto the flat side of the shells or use a butter knife to spread it on instead. Then top with another shell and you have yourself a Sweet Almond Macaron!
You can store these in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days. Though they can get extremely chewy/hard, so I recommend eating them as soon as possible.
If gifting, remember that these get crushed easily.
Note: I am now super addicted to Laduree and Pierre Herme macarons and have requested *cough demanded cough* that my sisters bring me some every time they’re in Paris. I dream of making macarons as delicious as the ones from Laduree and Pierre Herme. It hasn’t happened yet but I am trying. As of now, my macarons are much more like ‘Lette…aka American macarons. But I still dream. Next on my agenda of recipes to tackle is the Pierre Herme Salted Butter Caramel Macarons ^^