A review of Macarons, by Pierre Hermé (Grub Street, 2011), would not be complete without whipping up a batch of scrumptious macarons from among the many delicious recipes presented in this fabulous collection.
With dozens to choose from, I decided on coffee macarons, one of ten flavours Pierre Hermé has grouped together under the heading “classics.” (The book also features fetish flavours, signature macarons, “made-to-order macarons”, and “exceptions.”)
My earlier coffee macaron recipe was made using the French method.
Pierre Hermé uses the Italian method for making macarons. This involves adding a cooked sugar syrup to the beaten egg whites to make the meringue.
The Italian method of making macarons is a little more complex and time-consuming than the French method, but many say it produces shiner, more evenly formed shells.
This was my first time making macarons with the Italian method. I followed Hermé’s recipe closely, referring frequently to his “32 steps to successful macaron shells” at the beginning of the book.
The original recipe makes 72 macarons. It has been adjusted below to make a smaller batch (one-half of the original quantity).
Adapted from Macarons, by Pierre Hermé (Grub Street, 2011)
Preparation time: one hour
Baking time: 15 minutes per tray
Yield: approximately 35 filled macarons
For the shells
- 150 grams ground almonds
- 150 grams icing sugar
- 90 grams egg whites, aged
- 15 grams coffee extract (or 2 tablespoons instant coffee)
- 250 grams caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 63 grams mineral water
- 70 grams egg whites, aged
For the white chocolate & coffee filling
- 200 grams crème fraîche or heavy cream (35 per cent fat)
- 200 grams white chocolate
- 10 grams ground coffee
- Measure out all the ingredients before you start. Sift together the ground almonds and icing sugar, stir thoroughly and set aside in a large bowl. Add the coffee extract to the first portion of egg whites, stir, and pour over the dry ingredients without stirring, then set aside. Since I didn’t have any coffee extract on hand, I used instant coffee. I crushed the granules into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle, then stirred them into the dry ingredients before adding the egg whites.
- Place the water and caster sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the temperature reaches 115 degrees C, begin beating the second portion of egg whites in a medium-sized bowl. Beat until soft peaks form.
- When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 118 degrees C, remove from heat and add to the beaten egg whites. Take care not to add the hot syrup over the beaters; pour it in along the inside of the bowl. Continue beating for a minute, then reduce the speed and beat for another two minutes.
My meringue did not form peaks, but had the consistency of a very thick batter. I had my doubts, but as you can see from the photos, the macarons turned out very well, perfectly cooked inside and out.
- Let the meringue cool to 50 degrees C, then fold it into the dry ingredients and liquid egg whites using a spatula. Fold until a lava-like consistency is obtained, taking care not to overmix.
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and using a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, pipe walnut-sized macarons about five centimetres apart. When you’ve finished piping, tap the trays firmly on a hard surface to allow the air bubbles to escape. Let the macarons sit for 30 minutes (or longer) until a skin forms and they are no longer wet when touched.
- Bake the trays one at time. When feet begin to form on the macarons, reduce heat to 150 degrees C and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the macarons at all times, and open the oven door from time to time to prevent the temperature from getting too hot. Macarons are done when the shells remains firmly on their feet when lightly tapped with a knife or fork.
- Remove tray from oven. Allow macarons to cool for a few minutes then remove with a lifter and set on wire rack.
When making macarons with the French method, I always use a food processor to grind the almond powder and icing sugar prior to sifting. With this batch, I did not use the food processor at all (the recipe does not call for it) but I did sift the ingredients twice to ensure the mixture was as fine as possible.
The egg whites should be “aged” at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours (leave them in a dish covered with plastic film pierced with a few holes) or in the refrigerator for up to five days.
To ensure your macarons turn out perfectly, have a look at these important macaron-making tips.
Having trouble with your macarons? They’re notoriously finicky! Check out our troubleshooting guide: ChocoParis macaron troubleshooting tips
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To make the ganache
- Coarsely chop the white chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir until completely melted.
- Bring the cream to a boil, add the ground coffee and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for a few minutes. Strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove the coffee grounds.
- Add the coffee-infused cream to the melted chocolate in thirds, stirring completely after each addition. Pour the ganache into a shallow tray and cover it with plastic film, then leave it in the refrigerator until it thickens.
If the ganache is still runny after an hour, it can be quickly thickened by whipping briefly with an electric beater. This produces a lighter, fluffier ganache that holds its shape very well. However, you must take care to beat just enough for the ganache to thicken, otherwise it will become dry and cracked. One to two minutes is usually enough.
To assemble the macarons, pair them according to size. Using a teaspoon, place a small amount of ganache on the centre of one shell, then gently press and twist the second shell over top. Place the assembled macarons in an airtight container and refrigerate at least 24 hours. Be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving (one hour).
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