My last post was about my first two attempts at making macarons. Attempt #2 turned out quite well, though the shells weren’t smooth. I think this was because I didn’t blend the icing sugar and ground almonds so the mixture itself wasn’t very smooth and was a little bit on the gloopy side (very scientific description) rather than making a smooth ribbon as it is apparently supposed to. They still tasted really good though (even if I do say so myself…) so my main issue with them was just that they weren’t as presentable as they should have been.
So the challenge to successfully attempt macarons was still on. I happened across a suggestion for coffee and cognac macarons and decided that I obviously just had to try them, so I got out my mini-blender and made a start on…
I’m actually really happy with how these turned out. The shells, though still not exactly perfect, were (mostly) smooth, didn’t crack and had beautiful feet.
What do you think? Success? I’m going with yes.
Since I only have a mini blender, I had to mix the icing sugar and almonds together first and then blend it in batches – a bit tedious, but definitely worth the tiny bit of added effort.
The coffee and cognac ganache combination worked really well, so not only did the macarons look presentable, they also tasted yummy! All-round win!
Coffee & cognac macarons
Since the ganache has to be cooled right down, it gets very hard and is therefore ridiculously difficult to pipe. I ended up getting a bit frustrated and just depositing dollops of ganache onto the macaron shells with a teaspoon and my finger – hey, it got the job done! Make sure you leave these at least 24h before eating them, in order to allow the ganache to soak into the shell a little bit. They can be stored in an airtight box in the fridge – just remember to bring them out at least 30mins before eating them, so that you can appreciate the flavour fully!
For the shells:
100g aged egg whites
66g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
7g cocoa powder (at least 70%)
For the ganache:
40g single cream
4 tsp coffee granules
150g white chocolate
2cl (20g) cognac
To make the shells:
1. Line three or four flat baking sheets with greaseproof baking paper and set aside. Prepare a piping bag with a plain nozzle, the size of which depends on the size of macarons that you are making.
2. Blend the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder together (don’t skip this step!) Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl.
3. Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites at room temperature (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand) to glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.
4. Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well. Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture. Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes. The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.
5. Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 1.5-2cm). Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round. Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.
6. Leave to set for about 30mins (this helps to produce the feet). Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C. When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.
7. Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-12mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3mins longer. The mini macarons took about 8-9mins). Leave them to cool on the baking trays, and when they are completely cool, carefully remove them and pair them up by size.
To make the ganache filling:
8. Whilst the macarons are setting and cooking, make the coffee and cognac ganache filling. Heat the cream with the coffee granules. As soon as it starts boiling, add the white chocolate (broken into pieces) and the cognac and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth (don’t let it boil or you will boil off the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?). Allow the mixture to thicken in the fridge.
9. Once cool, transfer to a piping bag and pipe (or use a teaspoon to deposit) a good dollop of ganache onto one shell of each pair. Then place the partner shell on top, and use a slight twisting motion to squash the shell down onto the filling.
10. Leave in the fridge for at least 24h before serving (I know, it’s difficult! But so worth it!!)