Archive | Chocolate Ganache RSS feed for this section

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

28 Feb

  …Take A Class and Try Again!
Macarons with Espresso Chocolate Ganache Filling

For those of you who recall my previous post: Third Times A Charm I’ve been on what I like to call, a Macaron Mission. With really only 4 ingredients (Almond Flour, Granulated Sugar, Powdered Sugar and Egg Whites) you would think that Macarons are strait forward, quick and easy. Well, you’d be wrong. The hardest part really is finding out which method works best for you. The method that works for me may not work for you. You may have luck with the Italian meringue, but not the French meringue and there are SO many varieties of making this “simple” cookie. 

With that said, I did have some luck a couple of months ago, but looking back at the process, it was definitely a little bit of luck. So, I started really getting into understanding how the ingredients work on their own, what happens when you put them together and why it is so specific. On my Instagram I posted a picture of a new book I bought Les Petits Macaron written by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in truly learning the inner workings of Macarons.  


Just after reading through this book, a couple of times, I was browsing the Institute of Culinary Education website for their night class onions (GREAT classes at ICE that can be found HERE) and came across a Macaron class being taught by Kathryn Gordon. Needless to say, I was SO excited!! So, like a little kid in Disney World at the Disney Pricess breakfast (yes, that’s how I felt) I brought my book with me to take notes and have Chef sign it.

The best part about the class, other than feeling confident in my Macaron skills was that Chef Kathryn confirmed a lot of what I came to learn that there really is no “Holy Grail” of Macaron recipes. I had such a great time at the class and I learned so much that I couldn’t wait to put it to action and update/refresh my older blog post. Here’s a picture of the Macarons we all made in class:

   

I hope that you enjoy this “refreshed” version of my Macarons and if anything I hope you take away the confidence to give these amazing cookies a shot! They are totally worth it and once you get a standard base recipe for yourself, you’re truly limitless in what you can create!

Macarons

Prep Time       Cook Time       Total Time
30 Min             9 Min                 1 Hour

_____________________________________________________________

Yields: 40 1-inch Macarons (80 halves)

Ingredients

  • 165 Grams (1 1/4 Cups Packed) of Almond Flour
  • 165 Grams (3/4 Cups Packed) of Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1 Gram (A Pinch) of fine Sea Salt
  • 150 Grams (3/4 Cup) of Granulated Sugar
  • 5 Grams (1 Tbs) of Powdered Eggs Whites or Mirangue Powder
  • 115 Grams (1/2 Cup, ~4 Large Eggs)of Whisked Egg Whites — Ideally “aged”
  • Food Coloring (Optional) – 4 drops of Gel or up to 6 drops of liquid
  • Before we jump right into the instructions, there are some key things you should know about Macarons that can help with troubleshooting and understanding how theses tricky little cookies react:

    1. Most importantly — Macarons HATE water. That’s why the old saying of “don’t make Macarons in the rain” really is true! The moisture in the air will ruin the structure that the Macarons have. With that said, of course people make macarons when its raining outside, but don’t do it on your first try. Wait for a sunny and dry day.
    2. To follow up on the water issue — Egg Whites. Egg whites consist of protein and water and what the Macarons really want from the egg whites are the protein. This is why it’s important to “age” your egg whites. When you separate your whites from your yolks and let the whites sit separately, the water will start to evaporate and you’re left with the the protein; “the good stuff”! For my Macarons, I separated the eggs 2 days in advanced and left them in a bowl in the fridge. When I was ready to make the Macarons, I took them out of the fridge and let the whites come to room temperature on their own. About an hour. People do leave their whites out of the fridge and age them for days, weeks, even months, but to be safe, I like the fridge and just let them come to room temp on their own. Worked great for the Macarons I made in this post!
    3. All about the Flour:  Flour is the most important of the dry ingredient. What’s so interesting about these cookies is that you can use any type of nut flour to accomplish the flavor/color/theme you’re after. If you want that really white color, use coconut flour; green, use pistachio. You can also mix flours to save money! The most basic is the almond flour. You want the flour very fine, but if it feels like corn starch it’s too thin and won’t work. 
    4. Sift, Sift Sift! This is so important. To get that smooth top of the macaron cookie it is so important to mix the dry ingredients well, make it fine and get all the clumps out. To do this, use a food processor to thin out the flour and the sifter to blend the confection sugar with the flour and ensure no clumps.
    5. Food Coloring: Be careful! The gel food coloring is water based, and remember Macarons HATE water. Only add up to 5 or so drops. This will be enough to get you the pastel colors. You see some of the vibrant colors of macarons and those can be accomplished with powdered food coloring. The only downside to the powder is if you use too much of it, it can change the whole flavor of the macaron and can actually give it a very acidic aftertaste that most people really don’t like. Be aware and conscious of it.
    6. The Meringue: This is the “tricky” part and the part that has a huge variety of methods. Italian, French, Swis, and variations on each. The key here really is just not to over whip. If you over whip you’ll end up with an explosion at the top of the cookie. Just whip until it gets glossy and you can hold the bowl upside down over your head without anything falling out on top of you! Quite a test, right!?
    7. The Macaronner: This is were you are right before you’re about to pipe. You made the meringue, you’ve added your dry ingredients and stirred to combined. I call this the “lava” stage. You know you’re here when you lift and drop some of the mixture back in the bowl and the “pattern” dissapears back into the mixture. When this happens, you’re ready to pipe!

    Phew… OK, with that, we’re ready! It sounds like a lot, but once you understand what makes Macarons tick, you can start to pinpoint where the successes are and what parts need improvement. Don’t be scared, dive in and have fun with them!

    Instructions

    1. You will be baking your Macarons on 2 stacked sheet pans. This will help disperse the oven is heat during baking. So go ahead and stack two baking sheets and line with parchment or a Selpat. As you can see from the picture below, I place sheets of paper with the Macaron size I want underneath so that I am sure to pipe out the same size so they cook evenly.
       
    2. Place the almond flour, confectoners’ sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 4 times for 4 seconds to combined. After each pulse, make sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor. This is preventing the flour  from overheating in the processor. Once you’re done processing, sift the ingredients together   
       
    3. Stir together the meringue powder and granulated sugar together
    4. Place the egg whites and sugar together in a standing mixer set with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium-high speed until glossy medium peaks form (roughly 11 minutes, but everyone’s mixer is different)
       
    5.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the almond flour mixture into the meringue until they are well incorporated. At this point add any of the flavoring and color you’re using and fold again, but like I said above, be careful not to add too much! It is important to fold the different components just enough, but not too much or the macaron tops will crack when they’re in the oven. Be sure to follow #7 from the tips above. You can see from the pictures below the progression of the batter.
    6.  Spoon the batter into a half full pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 round inch tip. To achieve the tie-died colorful look that I achieved, before you fill the pastry bag, paint stripes from the tip to about halfway up the bag with the colors you want. As you pipe, the batter will pull the colors with it.
        
       
    7. To pipe the Macarons hold your piping bag just above the tip with your dominant had and clos the top so no filling comes out with your other hand. Position the bag at 90 degrees, strait above where you are piping, about inch away from the baking sheet. Squeeze out the batter  without moving the piping bag at all! That is very important so that you get a perfectly round macaron. Once you have the size you want, let the pressure on the bag go and without lifting the bag, simply move over to the next area and repeate the process until the batter is gone 
    8.  Once all of the Macarons are piped, slam baking sheet onto the counter about 11 times. Don’t be shy, really slam it!! Then, let the Macarons sit on the counter for roughly 15 minutes, until a skin forms. While these are forming the skin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    9. Bake the Macarons for 9 minutes, until they just come off the parchment paper when you lift them. If you find that the first batch comes out a little short with minimal feet, try taking the temperatre down 25 degrees and add 1 minute to the cooking time, and visa versa if the feet are too big.
       
       
    10. Cool the Macarons completely before removing. If possible, place in the freezer for 10 minutes for easy removal.

    Now, for the filling! There are SO many variations of filling. Truly, the options are endless, just use your imagination! I kept it simple this time around with a Cappuccino Ganache Filling. The strong rich flavoring was a perfect compliment for the simple flavoring of the almond cookie. Also, I LOVE chocolate and coffee, so when they’re combined, I just can’t say no!

    Cappuccino Ganache Filling

    Prep Time      Cook Time      Total Time
    5 Min             10 Min                20 Min
    __________________________________________

    Yields ~3.5 Cups

    Ingredients

    • 3 Grams (1 Large Tbs) of Espresso Powder
    • 1/4 Tsp of Ground Cinnamon
    • 240 Grams (~ 1 Cup) of Heavy Cream
    • 320 Grams (~2 Cups) of Semisweet Chocolate, chopped into small pieces

    Instructions

    1. Steep the espresso and cinnamon in the cream as it comes to a boil in a small pot
    2. Once it boils, turn off the heat and immediately pour over the chocolate in a shallow pan
    3. Let sit for 1 minute and then whisk from the center out to the edges until smooth and shiny
    4. Cool in the pan until thick/spreadable as a filling. You can place in the fridge as well to help the process along
        
       

    It’s that simple!!

    Now to combine the Macarons. Once they are cooled, pair each with another of the same size. Line them up with one facing up and once facing down  

     
    Fill a piping bag half way with your filling and begin to pipe the filling onto each macaron half facing up. Use the same technique you used to pipe the macaron out for practice!  

     
    Take the top half of the marathon cookie place on top of the filling, press lightly an twist a little so that the filling comes just short of the edge.  


    Now, finally, after all that work, ENJOY!!! Take a bite of these fabulous little cookies you worked so hard on! 

      
     

    – Kristin

    Advertisements

    Best Day (Weekend) of My Life

    17 Nov

    A month ago today I married my best friend! It’s still a bit strange to call myself Mrs. Pfeifer, let alone someone’s wife! It’s been such a wonderful ride and while I’m thrilled that the planning was done, I’m loving reliving the weekend though all the photos

    504.jpg

    Since I’m a glutton for punishment, I thought: “oh wouldn’t it be fun to bake a cake for the rehearsal dinner!!” Thankfully I didn’t decide to make my own wedding cake, someone would’ve had to pick me up off the floor, but I did bake for the rehearsal dinner. Truthfully, it was probably the best thing for me. It kept me pre-occupied and calm, so it didn’t hit me that I was getting married and walking down with isle with 135 people staring at me until roughly mid-morning on the day of. That’s when the water works started and I realized just how important pockets in your wedding dress really are! 

    149.jpg  051.jpg

    Leading up to it, no one knew I was baking, but my Instagram (@KristinsCravings) should definitely have been a give away! I was making gum paste flowers, funfetti and chocolate cakes, and learning how to paint cakes. Needless to say, I’m sure people had an idea, but no one except Rob (my now husband, who probably thinks I’m a little crazy, but is now stuck with me!!) knew for sure.

    I had SO much fun making this cake and I learned so much from it! It was my first time painting a cake and making gum paste flowers. There were many long nights within the week of the wedding, but I wouldn’t change it for a thing!

      

    ALSO, Madison Lee’s CAKES did an absolutely fantastic job on our wedding cake! It came out more beautiful than I could have imagined. Thank you!!!

    747.jpg  750

     

    Kristin

     

    Third Times a Charm!

    1 Sep

    Chocolate Macarons
    Salted Caramel & Chocolate Ganache Filling 

     display

    See Updated Macaron Post HERE

    These little suckers are definitely one of the hardest treats I’ve made in a while. 1st attempt ended with hollow shells, but they still tasted good! When I look back, I didn’t let them sit and I rushed through it a bit as I was baking and cooking dinner at the same time (never a good idea!). The 2nd attempt: I did a lot of research, found the “perfect” recipe, went through it step by step, following to a tee, piped out beautifully on the baking sheet, they’re lookin’ good… NOPE! They came out totally flat, chewy and not very tasty at all. There they go, in the garbage, slam the oven, grumble under my breath. Now, I’m determined. Poor Rob has now come to the realization, not only that I’m a little crazy and that the kitchen is a disaster, but we’re not eating dinner until closer to 8:30pm versus 7pm.

    I took a deep breath, looked for the chocolate recipe that I found (because obviously if it’s chocolate it will work!) and started over. What I’ve learned when it comes to Macarons:

    • Be patient (need to work on this one)
    • Don’t get frustrated (guilty)
    • Don’t rush it (guilty)
    • Deep breath and a glass of wine can solve 1 – 3 above (guilty)
    • Everyone’s “perfect” recipe is different, it’s all trial and error to find your own technique

    Now, with all that behind me, I successfully made Macarons! As I mentioned, everyone has their own technique for these. Some say, no need to let the Macarons sit before putting them in the oven, you can add the sugar to the eggs right away, or add the whole flour/sugar mixture to the meringue all at once rather than in batches. Others say: fold 60 times, 30 times, 45 times to get the correct consistency. Let me just say, counting your folds? Really? C’mon, let’s simplify this a bit. You have to use your eye and your judgement a bit and that really just comes with time, trial & error (hence, my 3 attempts!), and some guidance, which you’ll hopefully get from the recipe below. What I like about this recipe is that it followed a lot of the “rules” that apply in general baking which I’ll be sure to point out as we go.

    French Chocolate Macarons

    3 Stacked

    What You Need:

    • 2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
    • 1 Cup of Almond Flour
    • 3 Tablespoons of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
    • 1/4 Teaspoon of Fine Salt
    • 3 Large Egg Whites (Room Temperature*)
      *Rather than letting the eggs sit out, submerge them in warm water for 5 minutes

    Prep:

    1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
    2. Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F and arrange the rack in the middle of the oven
    3. Set up a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip **Trick: Cut the tip of the bag, place the baking tip in, twist just above the tip and place the bag in an empty liquid measuring cup (one that holds at ~2 cups), fold the edges of the pastry bag over the edges of the measuring cup to create a a “bowl” in the bag to make it easier when the time comes and you wont get frosting/ganache/caramel/etc. all over the top of the bag before you use it. Image from Brave Tart:

    pastry bag

    Instructions:

    1. Sift together the Powdered Sugar, Almond Flour, Cocoa Powder and Salt. Sift an additional 1 – 2 times. Yes, 2 – 3 total sifts! It seems like a lot, but you need to make sure there are no clumps and the Almond Flour can be pretty thick. Push through as much of the Almond Flour you can and throw out any big clumps left over.
    2. Make the Meringue:
      1. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until opaque and foamy. Increase the speed to medium high & beat until the egg whites hold the line of the whisk, about 1 minute 30 seconds (roughly) then add the Sugar** This is part of the recipe that you see variations on. Some people say that waiting that minute or so to add the sugar doesn’t matter at all, but this way seemed to work best for me.
      2. Continue to whip on high speed until stiff peaks form and there is a clump of meringue in the whisk. This may take a couple of minutes, but make sure the meringue is stiff because it will deflate as you add in the flower. To get the clump out of the whisk, just tap it on the side of the bowl a couple times.
    3. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites in 4 batches folding each batch until just barely incorporated** Here’s the 2nd part of the recipe that you see variations. Typically when you’re combining ingredients, especially wet into dry it is done in batches or it will take forever to incorporate and the mix will end up over-mixed. While the meringue will deflate here, we want to make sure not to over-fold. My second attempt at Macarons I added all of the dry at once and I found that I over-folded the mix and the rounds came out flat with no feet. Only fold until there are no traces of egg whites. The mixture will look like slow-moving lava, similar to cake batter.
    4. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag. Pipe out rounds roughly 1-1/4 inch around about 1-inch apart onto the baking sheets. Here is a great video to show how to pipe the “perfect” Macaron.
      1. Place the piping tip on the tray at a 45 degree angle
      2. Keep the tip still and pipe into the mound of mixture, the mixture will spread a little, but form a circle
      3. Pull the tip up when you’ve reached your desired size and the peak will fall back into the mixture. It will take a couple tries (especially if it’s your first time) to pipe out consistent circles each time, but you’ll get the hang of it
    5. Once all the rounds are piped out, pick up the baking sheets and bang them against the work surface to create the Macaron “base” or “foot”. This will ensure that all of the air bubbles are out of the mixture.
    6. Let the rounds sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry the tops (when you touch the tops, they won’t be sticky anymore)** Here’s the 3rd spot that varies per recipe. The 1st and 2nd batch I made, I did not let the rounds sit, but popped them right in the oven. The 1st batch rose and had feet, but second batch was flat.  People say that it doesn’t matter, but letting them set worked for me, so I’m stickin’ to it! This is a good time to grab a glass of wine or maybe clean up your work surface a bit. I prefer the wine!

    Uncooked Baking Sheet

    1. Once dried, or after your wine glass is empty, pop the macaroons in the oven. Bake for a total of 14 minutes, rotating the sheets half way through. If you’re using a convention bake, you may want to leave the Macarons alone for the full 14 minutes. Opening the oven is a tricky task as you don’t want to lose the oven temperature and cause your rounds to become hollow. With that said, I rotated mine half way though and they came out great! Rule of thumb: If you don’t have to open the oven, don’t!
    2. Take the rounds out of the oven and let them sit on the baking sheet for roughly 3 – 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Do not fill the Macarons until they are completely cooled.

    Finished Baking sheet

    Chocolate Ganache Filling:

    What You Need:

    • 4 Ounces of Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream
    • 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (1/4 stick), at room temperature & cut into cubes

    Instructions:

    1. Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil
    2. Take the cream off the heat and slowly stir in the chocolate without creating any bubbles. Let sit for 1 minute
    3. Add the butter and stir until smooth
    4. Cover with saran wrap so that the wrap is touching the top of the ganache and let it chill in the refrigerator until thickened, about 30 minutes.

    Salted Caramel Filling:

    What You Need:

    • 2 Tablespoons of Thick Caramel – You can be ambitious and make your own through How to Cook That, but I just purchased jar of Caramel at the store
    • Additional 1/2 Cup of Thick Caramel
    • 1/2 Cup of Butter
    • Pinch of Sea Salt Flakes

    Instructions:

    1. Keep the 2 tablespoons of Caramel off to the side for now.
    2. Combined the 1/2 Cup of Caramel with the 1/2 Cup of Butter and the Sea Salt and beat until smooth. Set aside in the refrigerator to thicken, about 30 minutes.

    The Assembly 

    1. Pair Macarons of similar size
    2. Remove the Ganache from the refrigerator and transfer to a piping bag
    3. Remove the Salted Caramel from the refrigerator and transfer to a piping bag
    4. Warm the 2 tablespoons of thick caramel that was not used in the recipe and spoon a small amount into the center of one half of the shells ** You’re only going to place filling on the bottom round and leave the top bare for easy assembly
    5. I did half chocolate ganache and half salted caramel, so know in advance which ones you’re going to do as each flavor. Place about 1 teaspoon of the ganache OR salted caramel on top of the thick caramel you placed in the center of the Macaron half.
    6. Place the top on and press gently so that it looks like a mini hamburger.
    7. Refrigerate, covered, at lest 24 hours before serving to let the filling set.

    Display1

    After several attempts, it was a wonderful success to finally get them right! I hope I didn’t scare you too much with my failed attempts. These are fun bite sized (or 2 bites depending on the person!) treats to share at parties or to keep all to yourself.

    Enjoy!
    Kristin

    %d bloggers like this: