Vanilla Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

by angelika on March 5, 2011

When it comes to decadent luxury desserts, sometimes the very best combination is the classic combination. Is there anything more pure than vanilla and chocolate? One of the very first macarons I made successfully was a vanilla macaron. I think that the lack of extras like nuts or cocoa powder makes these a bit more fool proof. Even now, the vanilla batches I make seem to turn out best. They rise the best, have the nicest foot, and taste spectacular. Pair it with a honey sweetened vanilla scented chocolate ganache, and I’ve stumbled into heaven.

Vanilla Macarons

2/3 cups almond flour
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 large egg whites at room temperature, eggs left out overnight
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod
Preheat the oven to 375º.
To begin, process the almond flour and powdered sugar in the food processor. This ensures that the powders are very fine and the lumps that form in powdered sugar are worked out. Set the mixture aside.
Make sure to leave your eggs out overnight. This aging is supposed to ensure a more stable meringue. Separate the eggs and put the whites in the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. On medium begin to beat the eggs. Gradually increase the speed to high. When the egg whites start to foam, add the granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until stiff “bird beak” peaks form. Split a vanilla pod and scrape the beans out with your knife. Set the other half aside, as we will use it for the ganache. Add the seeds and then beat just until they are fully incorporated. You will see black flecks throughout.
Pour the almond mixture into the egg whites and begin to mix. You don’t have to be too gentle, a little force is actually best. Once the flour mixture is incorporated you begin to macaronage. You want to continue to fold the batter and as you fold it, you spread it out against the side of the bowl. So take your silicone spatula, and run it down the center of the batter, flip the left half over, then smear the whole thing once against the side of the bowl. So think of starting at 12 o’clock and smearing until about 9 o’clock. Shift the bowl 90º. Then you divide down the center again and fold over the left half, then smear again.  Clear as mud? This is the part that you just have to get the feel for, and this is also the part that makes all the difference. Getting this right, will insure your success. It actually isn’t so much how well you macaronage, but how well you recognize when it is ready. You are looking for the batter to fold gently on itself in ribbons when you suspend the spatula. For more detailed instruction and pictures please refer to the Pistachio Macarons with Lemon Curd.
Using a piping bag with a round tip, or just the coupler and no tip, pipe out the cookies. You do this by piping straight down, flooding the area, and then pulling quickly up. Try to make them uniform, but don’t worry too much about it. In the end you just match two that are the same size. Using an air core cookie sheet is best, but you can also use a sheet pan and stack two together. Make sure to line with parchment. It is essential that the cookies not get hot too fast, or they crack. Rap the sheet pan on the counter 6 times to remove the air bubbles.
In my oven I bake the cookies at 375º for 7 minutes and then open the oven for a blast of cool air. 7 minutes is just when the foot has appeared. I close the door and let them go another 4-6 minutes. They go less on an air core cookie sheet and a little longer on the double stacked sheet pans. You are looking for the meringue to be just firm, with no browning at all. In some ovens they burn at 375º and need to bake at 325º. My oven tends to run cool, and when I bake I always go to the maximum time a recipe calls for. If your oven is more efficient, turn it down to 325º when you put your cookies in.
Let the macarons cool on the sheet for a few minutes, they should then release easily. You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.
Chocolate Ganache
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter cubed, at room temperature
To make ganache, warm the honey and cream over medium heat stirring until honey dissolves. Take a knife down the center of a vanilla pod and then run your knife down one of the pieces, scraping out the vanilla seeds. Add the seeds to the cream mixture. Remove from heat and cover, then let it stand for 20 minutes.
Cut up the chocolate bar into pieces. I usually use Ghiradelli chocolate to bake. Remember that the baking aisle has 4 oz bars and the candy aisle has 3 oz bars. Always buy your baking chocolate in the baking aisle. Also, never use chocolate chips to make ganache. They are a lot of other ingredients, like stabilizers, in chocolate chips, so it just doesn’t turn out right.

I like to use a food processor to make ganache, I love how fast it goes. I have the mini prep Cusinart that is perfect for this. Chop the chocolate into a fine powder. Bring the cream mixture to just under a boil. Strain it into the waiting chocolate. Let it stand for one minute. Then whiz it up. Add the butter cubes and whiz again. Voila, gorgeous ganache!

Let the ganache come to room temperature in a covered container. It will become more solid. Match up cookies that are the same shape and size and then spoon or pipe ganache onto one, and sandwich the other on top. Work on 6 or so at a time, and them put them in an awaiting container in the fridge. The ganache starts to run as it warms up, and it can get messy.
When all the cookies are filled, they need to wait in an airtight container, in the fridge, overnight. This process is essential to the texture and bite of the cookie. Does this mean I don’t eat several “testers” right away? Of course not. If you want to serve them for an event or give them as a gift, definitely wait. It really is worth it.
A votre santé!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: