Chocolate Macarons

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I’ve been a macaron enthusiast for quite a long time as evident in my Instagram pictures.  I still remember the first time I tried them.  My friend had just come back from Paris and brought back a beautiful box of Laduree macarons for me. They were so good I think I wolfed them down within seconds!  The year after, I went to Paris with my husband and we indulged ourselves with macarons everywhere!  Laduree was delicious but we also discovered Pierre Herme’s macarons and it became our top favourite!  The flavours were so unique and the packaging was so gorgeous.  I must’ve had over 30 macarons in a week and a half in Paris that summer.  When I came back from Paris, my friend and I were determined to make these little bites of heaven.  I signed us up for a macaron baking class and we made our first batch together.  Here are a few pictures and the recipe that we followed.  It turned out really well for us.  I hope it does for you too!  Nothing is more frustrating than baking macarons that don’t turn out.  Trust me, I’ve been there.

Recipe:  Chocolate Macarons (adapted from here)

INGREDIENTS

For the macarons:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the ganache filling:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), at room temperature and cut into cubes
INSTRUCTIONS

For the macarons:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip; set aside.
  2. Place the powdered sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse several times to aerate. Process until fine and combined, about 30 seconds. Sift through a flour sifter into a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Make a meringue by placing the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until opaque and foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat until the egg whites are white in color and hold the line of the whisk, about 1 minute. Continue to beat, slowly adding the granulated sugar, until the sugar is combined, the peaks are stiff, and the whites are shiny, about 1 minute more. (Do not overwhip.) Transfer the meringue to a large bowl.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites in four batches until the dry ingredients are just combined. (The meringue will deflate.)With the final addition, stop folding when there are no traces of egg whites, the mixture runs like slow-moving lava, and it looks like cake batter. (Do not overmix.)
  5. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag. Pipe out 1-1/4-inch rounds about 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets, about 25 per sheet. Pick up the baking sheets and bang them against the work surface to help create the macaron base, or foot. Let the rounds sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry the tops and ensure even cooking.
  6. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheet and cook for 7 minutes more. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool completely.

For the ganache filling (mmm…my favourite part):

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl.
  2. Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Stir it into the chocolate without creating bubbles. Let sit for 1 minute. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until thickened but still spreadable, about 30 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. Pair macarons of similar size. Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. If you choose to pipe the ganache, transfer it to a resealable plastic bag and snip about a 1/2 inch off a bottom corner. Squeeze or scoop the ganache to about the size of a cherry (about 1 teaspoon) onto the center of a macaron half.Top with another half and press gently so that it looks like a mini hamburger. The filling should not ooze out the edges. Refrigerate, covered, at least 24 hours before serving.  Enjoy!!

Candied Pecans

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Warning:  these are dangerously addictive!  They’re sweet, crunchy and salty!  I love giving these out as gifts during holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Seal them tight in small jars, tie a cute polka dot ribbon around it and voila, you have a homemade sentiment to bring over to someone’s house.  Oh, and did I mention they’re super easy to make?  =)  Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar

1 egg white

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pound pecan halves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
  2. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Whisk egg white and water together in a separate bowl until frothy. Toss pecans in the egg white mixture. Mix sugar mixture into pecan mixture until pecans are evenly coated. Spread coated pecans onto a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, until pecans are evenly browned, 1 hour.

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Reference / Credit

Chocolate Truffles

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I was running dangerously low on my chocolate stash that I brought back from Belgium so I did the next best thing – I made chocolate truffles!  It really isn’t as hard to make as long as you keep everything nice and organized in the kitchen.   I followed this chocolate truffle recipe which yielded about 50.  Trust me, that isn’t nearly enough to supply my chocoholic friends and family, let alone myself – so feel free to double up the recipe on my behalf.   Enjoy!

Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients:

1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp (25 g) granulated sugar (light corn syrup is even better because the truffles keep better. Use it if you have it.)
12 oz (336 g) dark chocolate, I used Callebaut
1 T (14 g) butter

cocoa powder, for coating
finely chopped almonds, for rolling (or any other nuts)

1. Chop that block o’ chocolate fine! I like to shave it into small pieces with a serrated knife. If your pieces are too big, they may not melt. Once chopped, put the chocolate in a dry bowl.

2. Pour the cream, sugar and butter into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Once boiled, remove from the heat and pour it all at once over the chocolate. If some pieces of chocolate aren’t submerged, push them under with a spoon.

4. Let this sit on the counter for a minute.  The heat from the cream will penetrate the chocolate and melt it.

5. Now start whisking. To get the best texture, it’s important to create a good emulsion. The better the emulsion, the smoother the texture of the truffle will be. Start from the center and whisk fast in small, concentric circles. You can see how the center is getting shiny, and that’s a telltale sign that things are going well.

6. Scrape it into another clean bowl, and refrigerate it for a couple of hours, just so the ganache has a chance to harden.

7. When you come back to it a couple of hours later, the surface will have dulled over and that’s ok. The texture should be firm but scoopable.

8. Dig the mellon baller into the chocolate and twist, all in one motion. No hesitation.

9. Give the melon baller a good wack or two against the side of a parchment covered sheet pan and the chocolate should pop right out. You can get your bearings with a few practice balls. If they’re stubborn, give them a little nudge with a spoon. If some of them look all crazy, you can always roll them between the palms of your hands. But I like them imperfect.

10. Prepare two bowls, one filled with cocoa powder and one with finely chopped nuts for rolling. I used almonds.

11. Roll some of the balls in cocoa powder, and some in the nuts.

12. Enjoy!

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