Hiiii! How on EARTH is is July tomorrow? I swear it was just Christmas? I have been a little preoccupied around here - shooting christmas content for a magazine, which was super fun but took up a fair whack of time, particularly as I had to do the whole lot in my counter top oven. I'm not the best with pressure (highly strung / just a stresser in general) so I will be stoked once it is all submitted. I can't wait to share when the time come. We also just got new foster kittens! They are super cute, but full of worms. I've dealt with more poop in the last week than I have in a very, very long time. Who knew so much wormy poop could come out of such tiny little babies! It's gross, but all part of the fostering process. Thankfully they seem to be feeling better, so hopefully all the shitty problems clear up and I can snuggle them without having to hold my nose very soon!
Just popping by to share this month's macaron recipe! I am sure nobody else is invested in this whatsoever, but I love the fun wee challenge of coming up with a new flavour combo each month. Jase came around this morning and we made these guys - things have been so hectic we were lucky to squeeze it in on the last day of the month!
We kept things pretty simple this time and went for a black forest inspired situation with a dark chocolate macaron with a cherry filling - chocolate shell, silky chocolate swiss meringue buttercream, and a cherry compote. Cherry season is in full swing here now, so it only made sense to incorporate them somehow! I love the combination of cherries and chocolate - we kept the compote simple to really let the flavour shine through. Happy end of June!
A few wee tips:
All my Mac tips are here! The chocolate macaron shells can be a little finicky, particularly in the humidity, but I promise they are worth the effort!
Ideally the cherry compote will chill overnight, but if you are in a pinch, you can spread it onto a quarter sheet pan, place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface, and pop it in the freezer until cold.
You will have some Swiss Meringue Buttercream left over - you can either half the recipe if you don't want this, or it keeps super well in the fridge if you wanted to use it for another project. I find that making half a batch of buttercream can be a little tricky, depending on your mixer. Plus I think if you're going to go to the effort you might as well make lots to use again!
Good quality cocoa powder makes a difference!
Dark Chocolate Cherry Macarons
- Makes about 24 macarons -
Chocolate Macaron Shell
170g ground almonds
270g powdered sugar
20g cocoa powder
180g egg whites, at room temperature
160g white sugar
600g cherries, stemmed and pitted
100g white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1/2 cup (123g) egg whites, or 4 large egg whites
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
455g (16oz, or four sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
250g dark chocolate
1/4 cup (25g) dutch process cocoa
- PROCESS -
Preheat oven to 300˚f / 150˚c, and position the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Using a round cookie cutter or the base of a large piping tip (something about 1.5 inches in diameter), draw a "template" for your macarons on a piece of parchment paper, leaving about 3/4" between each circle.
Sift together the ground almonds, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Sift again to ensure there are no large clumps.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the mixer speed, and whip on high until the meringue starts to firm up. Continue to whip until the meringue forms stiff peaks (there is a good example here).
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the ground almond and powdered sugar mixture, and fold into the meringue. You want to deflate the meringue just a little at this stage, to combine the meringue and ground almond mixture.
Add the remaining ground almond mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Again, this video does a good job of explaining it. Fold the mixture in a series of 'turns', deflating the batter by spreading it against the side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the movement - scooping the batter from the bottom of the bowl, and spreading it against the side. Continuously check the consistency of the batter - you want it to flow like lava when you lift the spatula from the bowl, and you should be able to 'draw' a figure 8 with it, without the batter breaking (again, watch lots of videos to get an idea! They help so much). This step can take some practice until you know what it should feel and look like. If in doubt you are better to under mix them than over mix them - the process of putting the batter into the bag and piping out will help mix a little too.
Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an ateco #805. Place the macaron template on a sheet pan, and place a second piece of parchment over it. Holding the piping bag at a 90˚ angle to the surface, pipe out the batter into blobs the size of the circles drawn on the template. Finish off each piped circle with a little "flick" of your wrist to minimise the batter forming a point (it will still form a small one, but we can get rid of this with banging). Remove the template from under the macarons.
Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the bench. Repeat this a few more times - this will get rid of any air bubbles, remove points on the top, and help them to spread out slightly.
Repeat the piping and banging process until you have used up all of the batter - I usually make three sheet pans worth.
Allow the macarons to dry at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes, or until they form a skin that you can touch without your finger sticking to them. This time will drastically vary depending on the humidity.
About fifteen minutes before you are going to bake the macarons, place a spare sheet pan in the oven to preheat - this is going to be used to place under the pan with the macarons on it, to double up, which should help with even baking. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time - place the sheet with the macarons on the preheated sheet, and place in the oven.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan once during the cooking process, and checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The macarons should develop a foot (the ruffled part on the bottom of the macaron), and bake without browning. To see if they are done - press down lightly on a shell. If the foot gives way, it needs a little longer, if it is stable, then it is close to being done. Test a macaron shell - if you can peel it away cleanly from the paper, they are done. If they are stable but cannot yet peel away cleanly, give them another minute or so. Again, this part takes a little trial and error depending on your oven. If they seem done but do not peel away cleanly, do not worry - there is a little trick for that!
Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before peeling off the parchment paper and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the baking with the remaining trays, using the same spare sheet pan to double up.
If your macs do not peel away cleanly, place them, on the parchment paper, into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then peel away from the paper.
Store cooled macarons in an airtight container until ready to use.
Place all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium - high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to the boil. Turn down the heat slightly and continue to cook for 15 minutes, until the cherries are soft and the mixture is starting to reduce. Transfer to a jar and allow to cool completely. Using a stick blender or high powered blender, blend until nearly smooth. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
DARK CHOCOLATE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160˚f / 70˚c on a thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high until they are snowy white and fluffy, 8-10 minutes. Add the butter one chunk at a time. The mixture may look curdled - but just keep mixing! Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on high for a further 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
While the buttercream is mixing, melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl in 30 second increments in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly.
Once the buttercream has finished mixing, and is smooth and silky, add in the cooled chocolate, and sift in the cocoa. Mix for a further 2-3 minutes, then switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low for one minute to remove any air. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small french star tip.
Place the cherry compote into a small piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pair up each macaron shell with another of an equal size. Pipe a ring of buttercream on one half of the shell, then a blob of the compote in the middle. Place the second shell carefully on top. Repeat with the rest of the macarons. Macarons are best chilled overnight to allow the flavours to meld, but can also be eaten immediately.