Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chocolate Strawberry Macarons

Looking for a pretty pink treat for Valentine's day? These macarons are easy to make, even if you're a novice! Plus they're pretty darn tasty.

I love macarons, but the bakeries near my apartment don't really offer an adequate selection. 

The other day, I became bound and determined to bake these cookies for myself, and I was THRILLED with the result! As long as you have a bit of patience, and a great electric beater, you're in business.

Prepare these cookies as a Valentine's treat, for your co workers, your loved ones, or even yourself! You deserve a delicious cookie you fabulous thing you!

Here's how it's done:

Chocolate Strawberry Macarons (yield approx. 30 cookies - depending on size)

Ingredients (and supplies)

  • 2 cups of almonds (blanched) OR 3/4 cup of ground almond powder (I recommend the second)
  • 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • red food colouring
  • 3 oz of bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 tbsp of strawberry jam (you can also use extract if you like)
  • cream (or almond milk) as needed
  • electric beater
  • parchment paper
  • food processor (if using blanched almonds)

1) Prepare your almonds. you can choose either to blanche whole almonds and attempt to de-skin them (though it's annoying) or just use ground almond powder. I would very much recommend using the pre-ground almond. Unless you have a professional grade food processor, you won't get your almonds fine enough, and then you will have almond chunks in your cookie (though you may like that)

If you decide to use ground almonds: mix well with icing sugar, then set aside

If you decide to blanche whole almonds: once your almonds are blanched and de-skinned (though I couldn't be bothered) process in food processor with 1/2 cup of your icing sugar. Once it reaches a fine ground, pour into a small bowl and mix with the rest of your Icing sugar and set aside.

2) In a seperate bowl, beat your egg whites and salt at a medium speed until the eggs become incredibly frothy. Then begin adding your sugar 1 tbsp at a time, increasing speed to high mix until you create a nice soft meringue. 

3) Add your desired amount of food colouring and mix with beater on low speed, adjusting the colour as needed, until it is solid throughout.

4) Bit by bit, pour your almond/sugar mixture into your pink meringue, and mix well (by hand!)

5) If you have a piping bag handy, scoop your cookie mixture into the bag. If you don't have a piping back, just scoop into one corner of a plastic bag and then seal at the top with an elastic band. Preheat your oven to 300 F with the shelf in the middle rack, and line a cookie sheet with your parchment paper. 

6) Snip the corner off your plastic bag (or just pick up your piping bag..) and create mounds of batter approx 1 1/2 inches apart on your cookie sheet. They won't expand as much as you think, so you can get 12 - 15 cookies on each sheet.

Getting the size of the cookie right is tricky. Mine started out really small because I was afraid they were going to really spread, by the end I was making mounds about 1"-1 1/2" across. This seemed to be the right size.

7) When your oven is ready,  place your cookie sheet in the oven. My oven runs a bit hot so I started out baking for 18 minutes, but found the bottoms browned too much. I brought it down to 16 minutes for my second batch and that was perfect. 

When done, remove from the oven and let cool. they should come off the parchment paper fairly easily so you can reuse the paper rather than cut new each time.

While your cookies cool, make your filling!

1) Finely cut your chocolate, then place in small pot on stove over medium-low heat with a dash of your cream/almond milk. stir until the chocolate is melted, but not soupy. Remove from heat.

2) Stir in your jam. You may want to taste after each tablespoon. I found 4 was a perfect balance between strawberry and chocolate, but you may want more or less.

3) Add small dashes of your cream/milk until you have a smooth (but not runny) consistency. It is unlikely you'll need more than 1/4 cup. When ready, set aside in a bowl and let cool. It may thicken a bit as it cools, just give it a stir every now and then in case you need more cream.

When your cookies and sauce are cool, it's time to assemble!

This part is easy! Take two cookies of roughly the same size. Take the "bottom cookie" and spoon on some of your filling, it should cover the cookie so that only about 1/4 of the outside perimeter is still pink all the way around. Then, pop on your top cookie!

Don't push it down, just lightly set on top then set aside and move on to the next one. Let them set for a little bit (10 minutes if you can bare it!) and then you're ready to enjoy!

And who wouldn't want to enjoy one of these?

Macarons can be stored in your fridge for a few days, provided they are in a sealed container. If you don't eat them all in one sitting of course!

If you don't feel like strawberry (or pink) just use different food colourings, chocolate and flavourings (either jam, or extract) to get the type of cookie you want! The rest of the recipe stays the same!