If you read my Sunday Smiles post, then you already know that today’s post features swirly-shelled macarons. You also know that these macarons are my entry to two different blog challenges… The random letter for this month’s AlphaBakes challenge, which is being hosted by Caroline Makes, is “W” and upon reading that, I immediately thought of white wine. This month’s We Should Cocoa challenge is being hosted by Choclette at the Chocolate Log Blog, and she has chosen “blackcurrant” as the special ingredient, which are very much not in season here at the moment. This was minorly problematic for all of about ten seconds until I my eyes settled on my bottle of crème de cassis, which is a blackcurrant liqueur. White wine and crème de cassis… The stars have aligned and I have been presented with a kir… Recipe challenge win.
I’m not sure how well known kir is outside of France. Phil from As Strong as Soup correctly guessed that today’s macarons involve crème de cassis (well done Phil!), and also mentioned kir in his comment, but I gather he’s spent a fair amount of time in France, so he might have a bit of an advantage. I feel that kir royale – champagne with crème de cassis – might be a little better known, and kir is basically its forebear (I think).
Now kir is technically supposed to be made with Bourgogne aligoté (a Burgundy made with aligoté grapes), but I doubt it’s particularly easy to find outside of Burgundy, and so I’ve always made do with whatever white wine I happen to have. Incidentally, if you’ve got some white wine that’s a little past it’s best or that perhaps didn’t taste as wonderful as you expected, adding some crème de cassis vastly improves matters (there are limits however… Wine so much past its best that it’s turned to vinegar or Tesco Market value “wine” are both far beyond the help of crème de cassis). I was a little heavy-handed with the crème de cassis when I was made the one in the photos (woops…), so it’s not usually quite as dark.
So far, I’ve found that best way to transform a cocktail into baked goods is in the form of macarons… I might even go as far as saying that it’s one of my specialities. Kir macarons were a no-brainer, and I knew since the beginning of July exactly how I was going to make them, right down to the swirly shells, and the exact proportions of the ganache – I went with a white chocolate base (which also starts with W – do I get bonus points for AlphaBakes?) and a 1:2 ratio of crème de cassis to wine – but I just had to find the time. I love macarons, and I enjoy making them, but they are time-consuming. I finally tried them this weekend though, and boy were they worth making the time for.
I was a little nervous because this was the first time I’ve tried macarons in my oven here, but they worked well. The feet could have been a little more developed, but that’s more of a macaronnage issue than an oven issue – I guess my technique is a little out of practice. I’m really happy with the swirly effect though – I’d never tried it before, and I love how they turned out! I’ll definitely be playing around with that again. The white wine flavour is more of a very subtle undertone and doesn’t quite cut through as much as it would in a kir, but that was a deliberate choice on my part since I love the flavour of crème de cassis. If you want more wine flavour, you can just adjust the ratio of the two alcohols to your personal taste.
These are quite strong on the crème de cassis flavour – if you’d prefer a stronger wine flavour, then just adjust the ratio of crème de cassis to wine, ensuring that the total amount of alcohol doesn’t exceed 45g max (otherwise the ganache really won’t set). The macaron shells and the white chocolate in the ganache are already very sweet, so choosing a wine that will cut through the sweetness is ideal. Make sure you leave these at least 24h before eating them, in order to allow the ganache to soak into the shells a bit. They’re best 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:
Purple or pink and blue food colouring paste (optional)
100g room temperature egg whites (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand)
66g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
For the ganache filling:
40g double cream
150g white chocolate
30g white wine
15g crème de cassis
Purple or pink and blue food colouring paste (optional)
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 round piping tip.
2. Mix together a little bit of pink and blue food colouring paste in a small ramekin to get the shade of purple that you want (or just use purple food colouring paste). Brush three lines of food colouring up the inside of the prepared piping bag (this might be a bit messy. Purple hands are totally hot though, so no need to worry. I forgot to take a photo before filling the piping bag, but you get the idea from the photo below. If mixing your own colour, keep what’s left for the ganache if you want the same shade of purple. The swirls are totally optional, but it just adds a bit of colour to the macarons, and it’s also kind of fun.)
3. Blend the icing sugar and ground almonds together (don’t skip this step!). Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl. Sift them again if necessary.
4. Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites into glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Leave to set for about 30 mins (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.
8. Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10 mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3 mins 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:
9. 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), the white white wine, crème de cassis and a few drops of purple or pink and blue food colouring paste (the food colouring is optional, but adds a bit of fun colour), 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).
10. Once cool, use a teaspoon to deposit a 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.
11. Leave in the fridge for at least 24h before serving (I know, it’s difficult! But so worth it!!)
PS – Apologies for the super long and rambly post… Well done if you made it all the way to the end!!