Monday, March 11, 2013

Ladurée Chocolate Macarons

    I've been wanting the Ladurée sweets cookbook for a long time. It's beautiful and, honestly, I'm pretty sure Ladurée's macarons are absolutely perfect. A few weeks ago, my mom surprised me with the book (thank you mom!), and I got to work on some macarons right away. I decided to start with chocolate, a classic. After my last macaron success, I was confident and jumped right in. Fast forward three or so hours, and you would find me sitting on my kitchen floor, staring into the oven with despair. The macarons spread and cracked and were just a fail - I was able to salvage enough to slap together a few sandwiches and leave them in the fridge overnight like the recipe says to, just to see what would happen.
     From the ingredients (and tasting the batter), I could tell that these were going to be good. Tasting one as soon as it was spread with filling, I thought it was tasty. But the next morning, eating one straight out of the fridge for the healthiest of breakfasts, I realized that these were really, really good. They were almost Ladurée.
    So this weekend, I started again. I measured more carefully, sifted more thoroughly and piped more quickly. The first two trays were just like the last batch - the macarons crumbled and cracked. After reading several "trouble-shooting macarons" blog posts (seriously, what is with these little cookies?!) and trying out a few different things, I realized that while Ladurée calls for leaving the piped batter on the counter for 10 minutes, it actually needs more like an hour. After that, everything went smoothly, and after their rest in the fridge, these were even more delicious than last time (and perfectly smooth on top).
   These are absolutely my new favorite recipe, and I can't wait to adapt it to make all of my favorite macaron flavors. Enjoy!
Chocolate Macarons (Macarons Chocolat)

Chocolate Ganache
10 oz / 290 g chocolate (minimum 70% cacao solids)
1 cup + 2 tbsp / 270 ml heavy (double) cream
4 tbsp / 60 g butter

Macaron Shells
2 3/4 cups / 260 g ground almonds (almond flour)
2 cups + 1 tbsp / 250 g confectioners' (icing) sugar
2 3/4 tbsp (15 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz / 65 g chocolate (minimum 70% cacao solids)
6 egg whites + 1/2 egg white
1 cup + 1 tbsp / 210 g granulated sugar 

Equipment
Piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch / 10-mm plain tip

Chocolate Ganache
1. Prepare the ganache. Using a knife, finely chop the chocolate on a cutting board and place in a large bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream in 3 parts over the chopped chocolate, mixing with a wooden spatula between each addition to homogenize the preparation.
Cut the butter into small pieces and stir into the ganache until very smooth. Transfer to a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap, so that the plastic is in contact with the ganache. Allow the ganache to cool at room temperature and then refrigerate for 1 hour until it has a thick, creamy consistency.
Macaron Shells
2. Combine the ground almonds, confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor and pulse to obtain a fine powder. Sift or strain through a sieve to remove any lumps. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water or in the microwave oven until it is lukewarm (approx. 95 F / 35 C).
3. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the 6 egg whites to a foam. Once they are frothy, add a third of the granulated sugar and whip until sugar is dissolved; add another third of the granulated sugar and whip for another minute; finally add the remaining granulated sugar and whip for 1 more minute. Pour the melted chocolate over the whipped egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, roughly incorporate the chocolate, and then immediately and delicately fold the sifted mixture of ground almonds, confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder into the chocolate and egg white mixture. In a separate small bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 egg white until just frothy. Then add to the final mixture, folding gently to slightly loosen the batter.
4. Transfer mixture to the piping bag fitted with a plain tip. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe small macaron rounds 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches / 3-4 cm in diameter. Lightly tap the sheet so the macarons spread fully.
Preheat the oven to 300 F / 150 C / gas mark 2.
Allow the macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes and then place in the oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until they form a slight crust.
5. Remove baking sheet from the oven, and with a small glass, carefully pour a tiny amount of water in between the sheet and the parchment paper (lift the paper ever so slightly corner by corner). The moisture and steam that result from the water on the hot baking sheet will allow the macarons to peel off more easily once they are cool. Do not pour too much water as this could cause the macarons to become soggy. Allow to cool completely. Remove half of the macaron shells and place them upside down on a plate.
6. When the ganache has a creamy consistency, pour into a clean piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe a coin of ganache onto the macaron shells resting upside down. Top each with the remaining macaron shells. Keep macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 12 hours before tasting.

My notes:
-My biggest issue with this recipe is the 10 minutes of resting time - I had to increase this to an hour.
-I found that the step of pouring water onto the baking sheet to create steam was unnecessary - the macarons came right off the paper without a problem.
-Be sure to keep these in the fridge overnight - it makes a huge difference.
-Don't worry if your macarons crack or don't form feet on the first try (or, like me, the second or third try) - they might not look great, but they will taste almost the same!

7 comments:

Yii-Huei Phang said...

These are so pretty! I've had a bit of trouble mastering macarons, so hopefully I can master them soon.

Sophia said...

Thank you! Be sure to try this recipe, it's a great one :)

Cathy Z said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy Z said...

Hi,

Cute macarons!
i will be trying out this recipe for Valentine's Day next week and am wondering what brand of the minimum 70% chocolate did you use? is it okay to use plain dark chocolate as substitute or just omit it?

Thank you

Sophia said...

Hi Cathy!
I used Valhrona, but any dark chocolate should work. (Try to use a good-quality chocolate, as the taste will really come through in the ganache.)
It's definitely important to keep the chocolate in the batter, or the texture will be thrown off - so don't omit it.
Please let me know how they turn out!

chris said...

By frothy, do you mean they have a liquid consistence? About how many minutes do you beat it to get it frothy? And about how many minutes for the first 6 whites? And when you said to pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor, do you use the blender?

Sophia said...

Hi Chris,

By frothy, I mean that yes they will be liquid, but will have a layer of bubbles/thin foam on top.
The number of minutes varies depending on your mixer; to get them frothy, it should only take about 30 seconds. After that, the recipe as a whole could take 10 minutes of mixing - again, this will depend on your mixer.
I use a food processor, but you could use a blender as well - just make sure all of the ingredients are mixed evenly.

Best of luck!