Recently watched : Låt den rätte komma in
Recently wondered : If Cloudy, with a chance of Meatballs could quite possibly be the next ultimate foodie movie.
Recently heard : Röyksopp
Recently prayed to the food gods at : Spice Temple (recommended : Steamed eggplant with three flavours; Leatherjacket drowned in dried chilli and Sichuan peppercorns)
Recently baked : Lamington-rons!
Well, just when you think you have sufficiently scratched that itch, along comes another temptation to ponder the benefits of one macaron method over another. This latest temptation comes in the form of Julia’s lovely blog. My favoured standard macaron method isn’t too dissimilar to the one Julia was taught at a macaron class she took in Melbourne. It’s quick, and I always get results I’m very happy with, but I am definitely warming to the Italian meringue method which she also uses to great effect.
For these lamington inspired macarons, I chose to use David Everitt-Matthias’ recipe for chicory macarons from his new book (and my latest cookbook infatuation), substituting chicory as a flavour, with cocoa powder. What I found with the Italian meringue method was that the resulting raw mixture was incredibly stable. Where it’s not unusual to get a slightly less than 100% yield with my normal method, with this batch, I managed a full yield. Well, maybe 80%, because I ate a few.
In the future, I hope to explore this method a little further. Next time though, I will stick to my usual step of sifting the almond meal and icing sugar before using it. I like sifting the dry ingredients to get rid of any larger bits of nut meal which would cause the macaron shell to look less smooth. They were a little bumpy in appearance on this occasion, but certainly no less tasty.
Chicory Macarons :
(makes 18; from Dessert by David Everitt-Matthias)
200g caster sugar
50 ml water
140g egg whites (4 – 5 whites)
200g icing sugar
200g ground almonds
30ml chicory essence
Put the caster sugar and water in a heavy-based pan and heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Raise the heat, bring to the boil and cook without stirring until the syrup reaches 120′C on a sugar thermometer. When it reaches approximately 110′C, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a freestanding electric mixer. When the syrup reaches the correct temperature, slowly pour it onto to the whites, whisking constantly. Carry on whisking until the mixture is thick and very stiff.
Mix the icing sugar and ground almonds together and add slowly to the egg whites, gently folding them in. Finally fold in the chicory essence. Place in a piping bag and pipe on to a tray lined with baking parchment, making rounds approximately 3cm in diameter. Allow to dry for about 30 minutes. This is important, as it allows a skin to form before you bake them. Place in an oven preheated to 180′C and bake for 8 – 12 minutes [Note : mine were ready at the 9 minute mark]. Ideally the vent of the oven should be open, but you could just prop the door open slightly [Note : I don't really think this is necessary, but I did very slightly open the door of the oven for a second or two, half way through the baking process]. The macaroons should be firm to the touch and crisp when cool. Remove from the oven, leave to cool, and then remove from the baking parchment.
Chicory Ganache :
70ml double cream
10ml chicory essence [I omitted this]
100g bitter chocolate (71% cocoa solids), chopped
30g unsalted butter
Put the double cream and chicory essence in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and put to one side for 2 minutes. Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour on the hot cream. Stir until the chocolate has melted [Note : If you have trouble getting the chocolate to melt before the cream cools down, do this over a bain marie, but be careful not to overheat the mixture], then add the butter and stir until amalgamated. Leave to cool completely, then whisk until smooth. Sandwich the macaroons together with the ganache.