Monday, June 27, 2011

it's a mac eat mac world!

Peanut butter. I have been going through jars of the stuff. Peanut butter on its own, I'm hardcore like that. Peanut butter on toast, nothing else needed. Peanut butter on toast - with a drizzle of maple syrup, hello Heaven! And now...

Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons!
Adapted from Tartelette's Snickers macarons

3-4 large egg whites (90-100 grams)
75 g castor sugar
175 g icing sugar
55 g ground peanuts
55 g ground almonds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Have your egg whites separated in a bowl on your kitchen counter, ageing for a day, or letting it come to room temperature for a few hours. (Remember not to use freshly purchased eggs. If you need some a-z help with macarons refer to an earlier blog post that has step-by-step instructions and a macaron template, and another post that contains very useful links that helped me.)

Grind nuts in a coffee grinder, slowly pulsing so as not to heat up and create moisture. A tip is to grind the nuts with a few teaspoons of icing sugar. Sift the mixture (icing sugar and ground nuts) into a bowl, re-grind the bigger chunks and grainier bits that are left in the sieve, continuing like so. Once you have the mixture sifted well, sift in the cocoa, mix to combine and leave aside.

With an electric stand mixer or hand-mixer, whisk egg whites till foamy. Add castor sugar a little at a time until a shiny meringue forms and holds medium peaks. You'll know the sugar is dissolved when you take a little meringue between your fingers and it doesn't feel grainy. (But do not overbeat the meringue.)

In two additions - add the sifted ingredients to the meringue and fold in with a rubber spatula. This super important step is called macaronnage - click here to refer to this seriously useful video that shows exactly how to fold in and what the mixture should look like. Test a small amount of batter on a small plate and if the peak slowly softens and flattens, the mixture is ready. If not, you need to fold it a few times more. But be gentle, do not over-fold.

Line baking trays with baking paper - not wax paper, not foil - baking paper! Prepare a piping bag, fitted with a plain round nozzle (Ateco #804 or #807) fill with batter and pipe out small circles. Let the macarons rest for 30-60 minutes to dry, then preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Bake macarons at 150 or 160 degrees C (depending on your oven) for 10 minutes, rotate, and bake for a further 9-10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes on tray then transfer baking paper to a wire rack to cool completely before gently peeling shells from the paper and filling.


I tried two types of fillings to see which one was best and more true to the name peanut butter macarons!

Filling #1 - Peanut butter ganache

1 cup chopped dark chocolate
3/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup peanut butter

Heat the cream. Add chocolate, butter, icing sugar and vanilla and stir to combine. Add peanut butter and stir till smooth. Let the sauce cool, then refrigerate until thickened - a few hours - before piping or spooning onto macaron shells.

Filling #2 - Salty Peanut Butter Filling (Adapted from Cannelle-Vanille)

Since I was making two fillings, I halved this recipe and left out the salt - but this is the full recipe.

125 grams creamy peanut butter
70 grams powdered sugar
25 grams softened butter
25 grams milk
5 grams vanilla extract
3 grams fine sea salt

Cream all ingredients together for a smooth filling.

Fillings - The Verdict

And the winner is...

Filling #2! I didn't of course use salt, just because I was worried it would be too salty since I was making only half - but I think it would make a good addition. Next time, for sure. The ganache was good, but I felt like you couldn't even taste the peanut butter because the chocolate overpowers it - so for this macaron to have genuine flavour, choose the second filling.

Store in an airtight container for 2 days before you need them/need to serve them - the fillings will soften the shells. I tried having it the next day and it was still too chewy. On the third morning, it was perfect - the surface a delicate crisp shell, breaking into soft meringue and filling goodness :)
(However, if you use a plain ganache recipe - chocolate, cream, butter - it will soften the shells within a day.)


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