3 weeks into my 4 week 100% Primal challenge, and I’ve found myself baking a batch of macarons…
Don’t worry though people! I’m keeping on track – rather impressively in fact! Considering my weekend was spent on a hen/bachelorette weekend, where pretty much all food on offer was processed, coated in breadcrumbs and/or involved some form of bread or pastry.
I managed to control any urge to eat anything I shouldn’t have, and I took along some primal snack items including my onion crackers and some primal chocolate chip cookies which I had been experimenting with a couple of days before.
I know, I know – I probably shouldn’t have eaten treats such as cookies during a pure challenge, but I anticipated the junk food and thought its probably better to have primal snacks to nibble at, rather than eat what was on offer. I was pretty pleased with my efforts – except I did get back on Sunday evening feeling like I needed to eat as much as possible to make up for being deprived. Thankfully it was all primal approved fodder!
I did however drink a crazy amounts of wine :S
Well… it’s full of antioxidants right?!
Now, “why on earth am I making macarons during this challenge?” you ask. “You have but a mere 5 days until your challenge is up!”
I’ll tell you why!
Yesterday evening I attended a book launch. (HA! I love how that makes me sound all important, like I rub shoulders with stars of the literary world! I suppose in such circumstances, I did)
Mo’s Aunt Miriam is launching Illegal the second book in her cycle of three novels set on Hayling Island, Hampshire, UK.
I was asked to make a tasty treat for the exclusive family-only after party – and I was very quick to accept the challenge, and immediately jumped at the chance to make some more macs! After my last batch of salted butter popcorn macarons, I was back with the mac buzz, and raring to go!
My only concern was what flavour to make them!
I knew that a lot of the audience might not have appreciated the wacky flavour combinations of Adriano Zumbo, so I tried to think up a more tame choice. I got Mo to help me out, and with blackberries being one of his favourite fruits, and them being on offer at the supermarket, I decided to tackle the mighty blackberry.
I turned to the master of macs, Pierre Herme and my go-to book when making macarons. I searched through the entire book, and there was NO sign of blackberry anywhere, so I moved on to my SIX other macaron dedicated books, which also showed no sign of a blackberry inspired recipe.
Of course, I could have worked up some kind of simple blackberry buttercream… but I don’t work like that. I wanted to create something AWESOME!
I went back to Monsieur Herme’s Macarons and decided to adapt his recipe for blackcurrent macarons. I mean, they’re both a type of berry!
The recipe was decided upon, I was to make a blackberry ganache in the same way M. Herme makes his blackcurrent ganache, and macerate the blackberries in much the same way he macerates his blackcurrents. SORTED!
Adapted from Pierre Herme’s Macarons Cassis
Makes: 50 generous sized Macarons (72 regular) Takes: Long times
Ingredients for the macerated blackberries:
200g blackberries (the smaller the better)
100g caster sugar
- start by making your macerated blackberries the day before
- place water and sugar in a small-medium saucepan, bring to the boil.
- once boiling, add your blackberries and wait until the water just starts to come back to a boil, remove pan from heat and transfer to a bowl. Leave to cool, then cover and refridgerate until needed. (preferably overnight)
Ingredients for the ganache:
400g white chocolate
- next, make your ganache.
- Puree your blackberries, and then pass the puree through a fine sieve to remove all the seeds and tough pulp
- place the puree into a small saucepan
- transfer the white chocolate to a bain marie
- while the chocolate is gently melting, slowly heat your blackberry puree
- stir your chocolate constantly and once is has all melted, remove from heat and pour in your warm puree 1/3 at a time. stirring well between each addition
- once the ganache has come together, pour into a dish and cover the surface with clingfilm/plastic wrap
- place ganache in the fridge to cool and set
Ingredients for the macarons:
300g ground almonds
300g icing sugar
300g caster sugar
220g egg whites
red gel food colouring
blue gel food colouring
- prepare your baking trays with parchment paper or silicone mats
- sift the ground almonds and icing sugar to remove the coarse pieces of almond
- in the bowl of your mixer with whisk attachment weigh out 110g of egg whites
- place the remaining 110g with your almond/icing sugar mix
- place water and caster sugar into a small saucepan, and start to heat it up – placing a thermometer in the pan
- while the sugar is heating up, combine the egg whites with the almond and icing sugar into a paste
- at this point add colouring. Blackberries aren’t actually black, so you’ll want to bring your mix to a purple. be sure to make the shade extra intense, once you add the meringue the colour will dilute, a lot
- once your sugar syrup has reached 115C/239F turn your mixer on high speed to begin whipping up your egg whites.
- when the temperature reaches between 118-121C/224-249F carefully take the pan of boiling sugar over the the mixer
- turn the speed down to very low and gently pour the boiling sugar down the side of the bowl
- once all of the sugar has been poured in, increase the mixer speed back up to maximum, and let the meringue whip until it has dropped in temperature
- fold meringue into the almond mix 1/3 at a time, being sure to break up the paste-like mixture. once all the meringue has been added, you can start to work the mix to the correct consistency.
- fold, and work the mix so that that it changes to a lava-like consistency. A good way to test this is to allow the mix to ribbon, then wait a few seconds and the definition of the lines should disappear
- transfer the mix to a piping bag fitted with a 6mm round nozzle
- pipe uniformly sized rounds of mix onto your ready-lined trays
- once piped, turn your oven on to 140C/280F
- the macarons will need to be left to dry out for about 30mins to an hour – once the oven has warmed up, and the macarons have formed skins, and are no longer tacky to the touch, you can place your first few trays in the oven to bake.
- they should take 12-14mins to bake, check regularly, and maybe turn them about 8mins into the cooking time
- to check if they are done, the top of the macaron shouldn’t wobble very much
- when out the oven, remove paper/silicone mat off tray and leave on a counter-top to cool down
- once cool, pair up the macarons ready to fill them
- drain the macerated blackberries and lay them out on paper-towel to dry off, if they are large, cut them in half
- place a small blackberry or half a blackberry onto the centre of a macaron half,
- tranfer the ganache into a piping bag, pipe your ganache neatly around the berry
- place the macaron top over the filling, and pack away into an airtight container and place in the fridge
- allow macarons around 2 hours to come up to room temperature for an optimum indulgent experience
- eat and enjoy!
[I used fresh blackberries, but you can use frozen, just remember to allow time for them to defrost]
Phew! As always – A LOT of work and time – but totally satisfying!
The hardest part for me was not being able to taste them – I’ve stashed some away in the freezer so I can have a
binge taste on Sunday – my cheat day! Woohoo!
Mo, the official taster, gave his verdict – it was positive. Everyone else who tried one last night seemed to enjoy them – I noticed some people even went back for thirds and fourths!
I, however, will have to verify their success on Sunday!
If you yourself are interested in making a batch of macarons and are new to the skill, I found Mad about Macarons by Jill Colonna to be a really helpful starter guide to making macarons. Pierre Herme’s Macarons is also an excellent book (even despite the few translation errors) for anyone who is a macaron fan – this is THE book to own – even if its just to gawk at the pictures!