I think my last ten posts or so have mentioned my dissertation (of doom) at least once, so if you follow my blog at all, you’ve probably realised that it has been the focus of my life for a good few weeks. So much so, in fact, that I sadly did not have time to take part in April’s Mac Attack challenge, the theme of which was “decadently chocolate.” As soon as I read the challenge, I knew exactly what I wanted to make, but I had to make a choice between which deadline to miss: Mac Attack or my dissertation. A tough one, but I’m afraid my dissertation had to win out in the end (I hear education is considered quite important) and I spent a lot of time in a computer lab instead of my kitchen.
But I handed the dissertation in last Thursday and, working on the assumption that I haven’t failed said dissertation, I finished my degree yesterday (!!!), and consequently, I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands. Time to try out these macarons!
The challenge wanted something decadently chocolate, so I’ve basically added chocolate in every possible way. Cocoa powder in the shells, white chocolate and crème de cacao in the ganache and dark chocolate and more white chocolate for decoration. That’s four types of chocolate (I’m counting crème de cacao as a kind of chocolate). Decadently chocolate? I definitely think so! Yummy? Yes, apparently so! (They’ve been taste-tested by Kat and Craig, as ever.) Worth trying even though I’ve totally missed the Mac Attack deadline by about two weeks? Absolutely! (I got a bit lazy with the decorating bit and couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of cleaning the fine tip, so I cut the end off a freezer bag instead, but clearly didn’t do a very good job – hence the rather messy white chocolate drizzle.)
Quadruple chocolate macarons
If you’re more of a dark chocolate fan, I’m sure the ganache would also work perfectly fine using dark chocolate and dark crème de cacao instead of the white chocolate and white/clear crème de cacao. The macarons 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 macaron shells:
100g aged egg whites (age them for 4-5 days in a sealed jar in the fridge)
66g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
8g cocoa powder (at least 70%)
For the ganache:
40g single cream
150g white chocolate
4cl (40g) white crème de cacao
A few squares dark chocolate (at least 70%)
A few squares white chocolate
To make the macaron shells:
1. Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside. Prepare a piping bag with a plain nozzle.
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. Sift them again if necessary.
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 in diameter). 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 8-10mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3mins longer). 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 ganache filling. Heat the cream, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the white chocolate (broken into pieces) and the crème de cacao, 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 (or freezer if necessary).
9. Once cool, 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. Melt the dark chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of boiling water, and once fully melted, pour into a piping bag fitted with a fine tip (or a freezer bag with the tip cut off), and drizzle across all the macarons. Melt the white chocolate in a separate small bowl, and drizzle across the macarons in the opposite direction to the dark chocolate (make sure you clean the tip thoroughly, or use a new freezer bag).
11. Leave in the fridge for at least 24h before serving (I know, it’s difficult! But so worth it!!)