Sunday, December 14, 2014

SNOMACS: Macaron Snow Folk


Winter isn't coming.  It's here.  No matter that the official start date isn't for a few more days, a foot of snow is a fine indicator that the coldest months have arrived.


Next to laminated doughs, macaron are my favorite pastry to bake.  They are elegant and scrumptious.  Looking at the ingredient list, they present themselves as the simplest of comestibles to produce yet they contain an inner culinary mischief that delights in discombobulating earnest bakers by puckering, cracking or not producing "pieds."  But with winter in residence, the lack of humidity makes for perfect macaron baking weather, taking away one of the weapons in the macaron's arsenal of shenanigans.


If there was ever a time to try your hand at making these beauties, it's now. 

Before you start, click HERE to watch a video of me making macaron so you can get a sense of consistency, etc.

SNOMACS:  PEPPERMINT MACARON with CHOCOLATE GANACHE FILLING

Adapted from the recipe in my book Sugar Baby

(Makes about 24 snowfolk)

For the shells

7 ounces almond flour
7 ounces confectioner's sugar
7 ounces granulated sugar
3 ounces egg whites, liquid
2 scant tablespoons egg white powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 drops peppermint extract, NOT oil
1/2 cup water, divided
a squirt of lemon juice

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, confectioner's sugar and egg white powder. Whisk for 30 seconds and then run through a fine sieve onto a piece of parchment and then run back through the sieve back into the bowl.  Set aside.

Fit a large pastry bag with a large open pastry tip and line 4 half sheet pans with parchment.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites, peppermint extract and salt.

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of the water and the lemon juice.  Stir over  low heat until the sugar has completely melted.  Attach a candy thermometer and raise the heat to medium and cook until the sugar syrup has reached 240ºF.

With the mixer running on high, carefully pour the sugar mixture down the side of the mixing bowl and into the egg whites.  Continue whisking until you achieve medium stiff peaks.  In most cases with macaron, I go for softer peaks for a flatter macaron.  But with Snow Folk, I beat the whites to a stiffer meringue consistency for a plumper shell to better mimic the shape of snowmen.

Stir the remaining 1/4 cup water and 1/4 of the meringue mixture into the almond powder mixture to create a paste.  Add the remaining meringue and carefully fold into the paste with a large rubber spatula until the mixture is the consistency of thick ketchup.

The top macaron were piped first and the lower ones right after.  They were all originally spaced like the macaron below.

Transfer the batter to your pastry bag and pipe a dime sized round and then pipe a silver dollar sized round closely beneath it but not quite touching it.  The batter should spread so that they just attach to each other.
This is a good spacing for piping the head and body.
Gently tap each sheet pan on your work surface to release any air bubbles and allow the batter to spread properly and allow to sit out for 20 minutes before baking.  In the meantime, preheat your oven to 300ºF (I bake macaron between 275ºF and 300ºF, depending on the oven.  If your oven runs hot, bake towards 275ºF).

Bake the macaron in the middle of the oven, one tray at a time, fan off, for 8-10 minutes or until you start seeing pied.  Rotate the pan and bake for about 8 minutes more, making sure that the macaron don't brown.

Allow to cool completely.

For the filling

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, at least 60%
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch salt

Chop the chocolate very finely and place in a heatproof bowl.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the cream, butter and salt.  Bring to a simmer and make sure the butter is melted.  Pour over the chocolate, making sure that all the chocolate is submerged.  Allow to sit for a few minutes undisturbed and then whisk until smooth.  If there are still bits of unmelted chocolate, place the ganache over a double boiler and stir until melted.

Place all but 1/4 cup of the ganache in a piping bag and pipe dollops onto the flat side of one macaron, a small dollop on the head portion and a larger one on the body, and then top with another and gently press together.  Continue filling.

Fill a small piping bag fitted with a small open tip with the remaining ganache and pipe eyes, mouths and buttons.

For the royal icing for scarves and hats

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon egg white powder
water

Stir together the confectioner's sugar and egg white powder.  Add water, a scant teaspoon at a time, until the mixture is thick but easily piped while still holding its shape.  If it's too thick, add a drop of water at a time.  If too thin, add a little more confectioner's sugar.  Add a touch of dye of you like!

Transfer the icing to a small piping bag fitted with a small open tip.  I use orange sprinkles for the nose and take a toothpick and just dip the tip in the royal icing and place a tiny speck of it on the sprinkle and adhere to the little snowman face.

Pipe scarves and hats with the remaining royal icing.