Chocolate macaron with Bailey's buttercream filling
Like many other bakers - I am obsessed with french macarons. The wonderful flavor combinations, gorgeous colors, the adorable feet - what's not to love? They are admittedly a little bit fussy, but once you figure out a method that works for you, they really aren't that difficult.
I've had the most success using the French meringue method. This method does require a little bit of advance planning (your egg whites need to "age" for at least 12-24 hours), and the shells need to sit for 30-60 minutes before baking - but I've had very consistent results.
A few must-haves:
- Kitchen scale: carefully measured out ingredients are a key to success
- Food processor: most almond flour isn't finely ground enough; you'll need to pulse it in a food processor (with confectioners sugar, to avoid making nut butter!) in order to get super smooth shells. I like to buy whole blanched almonds and grind them myself (make sure you grind the nuts with confectioners sugar, in order to avoid making nut butter!).
- Silpats (or parchment paper): I like using silpats the best - but parchment will work as well
- Oven thermometer: you'll want to make sure that your oven is at the right temperature!
Developing a hard shell, waiting for the oven
Just out of the oven - look at those feet!
Cooling (fortunately they don't take long!)
Chocolate Macarons with Espresso Chocolate Ganache
110 gm blanched almonds (or almond flour)
200 gm minus 2 tbsp. confectioners sugar
2 T cocoa powder
90 gm egg whites (about 3 eggs), aged at room temperature for 12-24 hours
25 gm granulated sugar
- Pulse almonds, confectioners sugar, and cocoa powder together in food processor, until finely ground.
- Whip egg whites on medium speed using an hand mixer until foamy (you can use a stand mixer as well; I prefer a hand mixer here).
- Slowly add granulated sugar to the egg whites, and continue beating until a smooth, shiny meringue with stiff peaks forms.
- Add the nuts and powdered sugar to the meringue, fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that disappears back into itself after counting to 10 (ie - if you drop a small amount onto a plate, the batter should flatten out in about 10 seconds, with no peak). The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Go slow here - the difference between just a few strokes can be the difference between perfect macarons and a flop!
- Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats. Transfer batter to a piping bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe 1 1/2 inch rounds, spaced about a inch apart. Let sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes to allow shells to harden.
- While shells are hardening, preheat oven to 290 degrees F. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on size (shells should lift easily off the mat when done; if you try to remove one and the top pulls off, bake for a few minutes longer). Let cool completely before assembling.
- Match up similarly sized macarons
- Pipe filling onto one half of the cookie, and gently press the halves together
- Enjoy! The macarons are deeeelish right out of the oven, but even better if you refrigerate them overnight. Try it - it's totally worth the wait!
Espresso chocolate ganache:
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 tbsp. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1½ tsp. espresso powder (or instant coffee)
- Place chocolate and butter in a medium-sized bowl.
- Combine cream, sugar, and espresso powder in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to simmer, remove from heat, and pour over chocolate.
- Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth and shiny. Let cool and thicken to a good piping consistency before assembling macarons.
Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats
So without further ado - my most recent cupcakes!
If you haven't played Angry Birds yet - you are certainly missing out. It's a super addictive game, in which you slingshot a variety of birds at different structures, trying to destroy evil green pigs that stole your eggs.
The idea for angry birds cupcakes came about back in November, while at a tech conference with two of my friends. Someone posed the question, "Hey, wouldn't it be awesome if we had angry birds cupcakes for our next major release?!" Umm, totally awesome!
The birds were made completely out of fondant, and sat on top of vegan cinnamon smores cupcakes with vanilla buttercream (also vegan!).
Angry birds, in progress
Finished, and looking mighty angry (and the pig, looking terrified)
All together, now
The idea guys, Jeff and Dave