rose petal macarons + chocolate ganache
I used to absolutely loathe macarons. The most pretentious of all the cookies. If your average chocolate chip cookie is akin to a motherly neighbor who always smells like cookie dough, then the french macaron is a fake glasses wearing, fedora donning, Nietzsche quoting hipster. I believed that they were vastly overrated and the fact that people would pay upwards of $3 per cookie was absolutely wild to me (that part is still true). The macarons that I had tried at bakeries previously always seemed incredibly flavorless to me. Still, I was intrigued because of their rabid popularity. How could people be so collectively enamored with this little cookie? I have to also admit that my ego took hold as they are accepted as being particularly difficult to make. I absolutely love making things that require specific technique. It's my own strange brand of constantly wanting to challenge myself. Once I started making macarons at home, I realized that they aren't so boring and serve as a sort of blank canvas for innumerable flavors and fillings. So I'm here to demystify this finicky little cookie for you.
At the heart of a macaron cookie is a meringue. Now, there are different ways to make a meringue and thus there are different ways to achieve a macaron. I'm going to focus on the french meringue which can be tricky to make, but will achieve the preferred texture for the cookie and keep them from being overly sweet. A meringue in essence is egg whites whipped with sugar until glossy. Because this cookie is such a finicky bastard, your meringue cannot be too wet or too dry. There is no real way to completely explain this, so I'll leave this video here. Though the recipe is different, the method for understanding how far to take your meringue is perfect. Let's talk macaron terms as well. You may have heard the term macaronnage. This is the technique for getting excess air out of your macaron batter until it slides very slowly down the bowl. This is, again, difficult to recognize without experience so I highly recommend watching some tutorial videos before getting started. You may have also come across the term "foot" in reference to a macaron. This refers to the all-important delicate frill along the base of each cookie. A macaron is not a macaron without a foot. This partially comes from the drying part as well. Once you pipe your macarons onto your parchment paper and bang the tray on the counter to remove air bubbles, they'll need to sit for 20 minutes or so until they are no longer sticky to the touch. The humidity in your house can keep them from properly drying so leave them in a cool, dry place.
Now, let's get down to the ingredients. If you do not have a kitchen scale, now is the time to invest in one. These cookies are extremely difficult and I do not recommend making this recipe without being able to weigh the ingredients for accuracy. I've already mentioned that the base of our cookie is a meringue. The egg whites are important. Do not use the boxed shit. Separate your eggs (and save your yolks! make this ice cream!) and weigh them. I used to just use fresh egg whites right after separating them and then I read an article about aging your egg whites at room temperature for 2 days so that your batter isn't too wet and I've decided that this is a superior method. Since we need 120g of egg whites, I left 130g (accounts for evaporation) in a tupperware container covered with a paper towel on my counter for 2 days before making macarons. Don't worry about them spoiling, I can assure you they will not. A pinch of cream of tartar is used to help stabilize the meringue, so make sure you have some on hand. The other half of the cookie is almond meal, or almond flour. They are one in the same. Bob's Red Mill makes a great almond meal but I usually get mine from Trader Joe's because it's easy to find and I primarily do all my shopping there. You will also need a good powdered sugar (try to find a brand that doesn't use more than 3% cornstarch), such as C&H. If you want to color your macarons, I would recommend a gel food coloring such as Americolor. I used their Deep Pink color for these macarons.
I made these macarons because I was desperately trying to find uses for dried rose buds that I picked up at the Asian market in San Diego about 8 months ago. I am an impulsive ingredient buyer. I'm ready to admit it. I pinched off the dried petals from the buds and added them into the food processor with the almond meal and powdered sugar. They have a beautiful, subtle floral taste and add pretty little flecks to the batter. I also am always that person that buys the pound plus bars of chocolate from TJ's so I'm always trying to find some way to incorporate chocolate into what I'm doing. I used the 60% cacao chocolate for the ganache which keeps the whole thing from being too sweet. I honestly loved the combination. You can find rose buds or petals on Amazon here. You can totally omit them too, and that's fine. If you want to choose a different flavor, try a dehydrated fruit or a tea or dried flower--something that can be incorporated into your almond meal and powdered sugar when they take a turn in the food processor. The world is your oyster! Don't be discouraged if your macarons don't turn out perfect the first time, things worth doing take time and practice. I have all the faith in you.
ROSE PETAL MACARONS:
makes about 40 cookies (20 sandwiches)
130g almond meal
145g powdered sugar
10g dried rose petals (petals from about 25 dried rose buds)
120g aged egg whites (see method above)
pinch of cream of tartar
135g granulated sugar
3g vanilla extract
2-3 drops of gel food coloring (optional)
chocolate ganache (recipe below)
Preheat an oven to 320 degrees F. Using a small circle cutter (roughly 1.5 inches in diameter), trace circles onto the parchment paper with a sharpie leaving about 3/4 of an inch between each circle. This will be your template for piping to ensure that your cookies are the same size and thus bake evenly. Turn the sheet over and place onto a baking sheet (you can still see the circles but your cookie won't absorb any of the marker). I actually prefer using a silicon sheet, but I am also fairly proficient at eyeballing the piping. I would recommend using the template until you feel comfortable and then switching to a silpat. They also make silpats with macaron templates on them and you can snag one here.
Place almond meal, powdered sugar, salt and rose petals in the bowl of a food processor. Run for 1 minute, until rose petals are ground into the almonds and sugar. Set aside.
Place egg whites and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high until eggs become slightly foamy and then add the cream of tartar. Continue to whip until until your whisk leaves tracks in the meringue. Gradually add the sugar into the egg whites, a bit at a time, while the mixer is still running on high. Let the meringue whip until it is glossy and shiny. When you remove your whisk, there should be a stiff peak of meringue on the top. Add food coloring, if using, and whip until color is evenly distributed.
Add the almond meal to the meringue in 3 stages, folding the mixture gently between each addition. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. 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. Continue to check the consistency of the batter, after being spread against the side of the bowl, the batter should very slowly slide down the bowl, like lava.
Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an ateco #805. 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). Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the counter. You will want to raise the sheet tray about 6 inches and bring it straight down. 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.
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. Bake for 15-18 minutes but start checking the macarons at 10 minutes. They should have developed a foot (the little ruffled part at the bottom). To check for doneness, press on the top lightly and wiggle. If the top shell moves, it needs more time. If you try to wiggle and the cookie is stable, they are done. Let them cool completely on the sheet before trying to peel the cookies away from the paper. Cooled macarons can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week before filling.
230g chopped chocolate (please don't use chocolate chips), semisweet or 60% dark works well
175g heavy cream
60g unsalted butter, room temperature
3g vanilla extract
Warm the heavy cream and vanilla in a small sauce pan until just barely simmering. Place the chocolate in a small bowl. Pour warm cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes before stirring. Stir until smooth. Add butter and stir until smooth. Let ganache cool until spreadable, but not runny. Like the texture of nutella. Use a piping bag or a small spatula to fill macarons.