Thursday, September 11, 2014

Truly Scrumptious

Just because I haven't been blogging much recently does not mean I haven't been cooking!  Yesterday was no exception.  I decided to do a spot of baking and finally got round to making macaroons, something which I have been wanting to try for ages.

My first macaroons
Having never made macaroons before I decided to keep it relatively simple, choosing this recipe for chocolate and raspberry flavoured ones.  In general it was easy to follow, however it was a little tricky in places as, this being my first attempt, I was not sure how thick the almond and sugar paste should be, nor what a macaroon looked like when it was ready to come out the oven.  So with a little bit of estimating and educated guessing I produced my first ever batch of macaroons.

I actually weighed out all my ingredients in advance, something which I often don't do, so that I knew I had everything ready to go.  Sieving almonds and icing sugar is easier said than done, although the point is to get rid of any bits of almond which are too large.  I managed not to burn my simple syrup and the meringue looked as it should.

When it comes to food colouring I will have to do a little more reading.  The recipe recommended 1/2 teaspoon of red food colouring which was certainly not enough to produce the bright colours shown in the picture.  A lot more would have been needed to get anywhere near that colour, however I'm not sure what effect that quantity of liquid would have on the mixture.

Folding the meringue into the almond paste was tricky as it took longer than I expected owing to the consistency of the paste (I may have needed to make it a little runnier by adding more egg whites) but it seemed to work out fine.

The meringue and almond paste mixture
Next came the fun part - piping the macaroons!  It is very difficult to pipe a circle just two and a half centimetres in diameter so some of my macaroons ended up being a little larger than planned but I don't think it mattered, I just made slightly fewer than the recipe suggested.

Before baking
They need to be left for half an hour so that a skin forms on the macaroons before they are baked in the oven for 14 minutes.  After taking them out I would definitely recommend leaving them to cool before using a knife to scrape them off the tray as hopefully they will crumble less.

Fresh out the oven
In the meantime I set about making a ganache.  Now, for my birthday I was going to post about a lovely cake I made with a ganache coating, but my ganache failed not once, but twice and while delicious it was not blog-worthy, so that was the end of that idea.  Fortunately I was able to produce a lovely ganache yesterday simply by using a chocolate with a lower cocoa content.  Previously I had used Lindt 80% dark chocolate which hadn't melted properly and caused the ganache to split and go lumpy.  This time I used Sainsbury's 53% dark baking chocolate and the ganache turned out perfectly!

The ganache
I needed less ganache and more jam than the recipe called for but that really wasn't a problem.  I got the piping bag out again and piped generous amounts of ganache around the edge of the macaroons and went back filling in the centres with raspberry jam.  If you want your macaroons to have a stronger taste then I would recommend adding some flavouring along with your food colouring, although not too much as you do still want to be able to taste the almonds.

Pipe a ring of ganache
Fill with jam
All that was left to do was sandwich the macaroons together.  I can confirm that macaroons are definitely best enjoyed fresh!


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