It’s been a while since I’ve thrown my toys over baking. The last time was when this tart broke me. I mean, I’m glad I made it but it will be a while (read: never) before I make it again. I had zero concerns going into these macarons, but I had many concerns after the third failed batch. It was a recipe I’d used many times before (including these ones), but something kept constantly going wrong (overbeating, I think), so I went back to basics and used BraveTart’s go-to recipe.
Macaronage (it’s a real word!) should not be scary. If you have never made macarons before, I highly recommend reading these 2 excellent blog posts from BraveTart. One debunks the macaron myths and the other suggests ways to make perfect macarons.
For these macarons, I chose to pair tart cherry with a rich Pinot Noir ganache. I used Fresh-As freeze dried cherries which I ground up in a mini food processor, and a lovely Pinot from Shaky Bridge.
For the best results and the most tastiest macarons, start this recipe a day in advance. Macarons actually get better with age, the shell softens and becomes more chewy , mingling with the ganache.
For the macarons
115g almond meal
230g icing sugar
144g egg whites (about 4 large eggs worth)
½ teaspoon salt
22g freeze dried cherries, ground to a fine powder
red colouring, if using (see notes)
Preheat your oven to 150°C and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper. I found it easier to use a macaron template which I found online, printed it out and stuck it under the baking paper. You’ll also need to have ready a large piping bag fitted with a ½” plain tip.
In a food processor, whiz together the almond meal, icing sugar and cherries. This just makes sure everything is well combined and there are no rogue lumps. You can just leave it in the food processor until you need it.
Add the egg whites, sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Turn it to medium and mix for 3 minutes, then increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for another 3 minutes. Finally, increase the speed to high and whisk for another 3 minutes.
Turn the mixer off and add the red food colouring, if using, and whisk for one more minute. The meringue should be really stiff and dry, and there will be a big clump stuck to the whisk. If it’s not stiff enough to clump inside the whisk, beat for another minute, or until it does.
Remove the bowl from the stand and dump in the dry ingredients all at once. Fold them in with a rubber spatula, using both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a rubbing/smearing motion (to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl.)
BraveTart recommends about 25 turns to start – the mixture will still look a bit lumpy. Then another 15-ish turns should just about do it. Undermixed batter will be quite stiff. If you drop a spoonful back into the mixture, it should just sit there and never incorporate. Overmixed batter will be runny, like pancake batter. It will be impossible to pipe into circles.
What you’re looking for is a mixture that has enough thickness so it will mound up on itself, but enough fluidity so it will melt back down after 20 seconds.
Transfer about half the mixture to the piping bag and pipe out the batter onto the baking trays. Take hold of the tray and bang it hard against the bench top, turn the tray 90° and bang it again, then turn it once more and give it another bang. This will remove any large air bubbles that will cause your macarons to crack.
Bake for about 18 minutes, or until you can cleanly peel the baking paper away from a macaron. Mine took exactly 18 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on the tray. You can store the unfilled macarons in an airtight container.
- Recipe barely adapted from BraveTart.
- I recommend using a bit of red food colouring. Without it, the baked macarons are a bit beige and don’t look terribly pretty.
- It’s super important to make sure the egg whites are incorporated and the mixture is completely homogenized. Any rogue streaks of meringue will cause the macarons to crack.
- I left my piped macarons sitting for a couple of minutes before they went in the oven. This was enough time for any peaks to flatten out.
For the ganache
150g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (at least 70% cocoa)
75g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (around 50% cocoa)
5 tablespoons Pinot Noir
1 teaspoon butter, softened
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set aside.
Add the cream to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, swirling occasionally so a skin doesn’t form.
When it is just starting to boil, remove from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let it stand for one minute.
Gently begin whisking the chocolate and cream. The chocolate will start to melt and then all of a sudden magic happens and you end up with a glossy elixir of melted ganache.
Whisk in the wine and butter until fully incorporated.
Cool in the fridge until it’s a pipeable consistency.
To assemble, pair up the macarons and pipe a dollop of ganache on one of each pair. Gently press the other shell on top and rotate so the ganache evenly spreads. Filled macarons can be stored in the fridge for up to one week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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