Tuesday, 8 May 2012
My attempt at Pierre Herme's Macarons
I realise that macarons have been done to death, but they are totally delicious and I haven't seen this recipe online anywhere, which is why I had to translate it.
If you're lucky enough to have tried one of Pierre Hermé's macarons, then you know what the hype is all about. I first tasted them in Paris nearly 3 years ago and then would occasionally buy a few from Selfridges when we lived in London. Every time I would bite into one, I was amazed at how much flavour could be contained in such a tiny little biscuit.
Pierre Hermé has not yet opened a patisserie in Melbourne, but does have a book, Macaron, full of his recipes. This book is just beautiful to look at. I have the French edition, and even though I can't read French, I love it! The super closeups of the macarons make my mouth water. It is available in English now too. I did spend an evening with my laptop open to Google translate and translated this recipe because I was dying to give them a go. These were my favourite of all the macarons we tried. I have to say, I was quite impressed with how they turned out and they were pretty close to the original.
The ingredient list is ordered a bit strangely, but it's the order you need to use the ingredients. There are two lots of egg whites listed.
Pierre Hermé's Eden (Peach, Apricot and Saffron) Macarons
makes about 72
For the ganache:
140g soft dried apricots
450g white peaches
20g lemon juice
20g fresh cream
20 saffron strands
350g white chocolate
For the macaron batter:
300g ground almonds
300g icing sugar
110g aged egg whites (I had some in the freezer)
yellow and red food colouring
300g white sugar
110g aged egg whites
To make the ganache, cut the dried apricots into 2mm cubes. Peel the peaches, halve and remove stones. Finely chop the peaches and combine with lemon juice. Pass through a fine sieve.
My peaches were to firm to pass through a sieve, so once all the ingredients were mixed together, I pureed the mixture with my stick blender.
Bring cream to a boil, remove from heat add the saffron strands. Cover. Let steep for 10 minutes. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Heat the peach puree to 40°C. Pour the warm peach puree and saffron infused cream over the melted chocolate. Stir in apricot cubes.
This is where I blended it all. The original recipe uses 10 saffron strands, but to get enough saffron flavour I used 20.
Transfer the mixture into a shallow dish. Push cling film onto the ganache to cover. Chill in the fridge until ready to use. I made mine 3 days in advance.
To make the macaron shells, sift ground almonds and icing sugar together. In another bowl, mix together the first batch of egg whites and colouring. Mix well, but do not beat. You want a deep orange colour. Pour over almond/sugar mixture but do not mix.
Put the white sugar and water into a medium saucepan and start to bring to 118°C on the candy thermometer. When it gets to 115°C, start beating the second batch of egg whites. A stand mixer is preferred, but handheld will do just as good. When the sugar syrup gets to 118°C, switch the mixer to high speed and pour sugar syrup in slowly, continue beating on high speed for 2 minutes, the whites will get thick and glossy. Beat on medium until it cools to 50°C.
This was my first time making Italian meringue and it's pretty amazing stuff! It's so glossy, thick and stable, but light to eat. Because it uses sugar syrup, there's no chance it will be grainy. I want to give it another go for a pavlova.
Add a third of the meringue to the sugar/almond/egg white mixture and fold in thoroughly. You can be pretty rough with this first batch. Add the remainder of the meringue and fold gently. The batter should be thick, but slightly runny. If it's too thick, whip it a little more.
After putting all my mixture into my piping bag, I realised that mine was a little too thick, but it worked out in the end.
Prepare a piping bag with a plain tip (I used a #12). Put the batter into the bag and pipe circles onto baking paper. I printed out this template and put it under my baking paper. Rap the baking sheets on the bench to get any air bubbles out of the shells.
Leave the shells to sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours. I left mine for 30 minutes, they were just fine. They've been sitting long enough if you gently touch the shell with your fingertip and your fingertip doesn't stick to them.
Bake in a preheated oven at 150°C to 180°C. Bake for 12 minutes, opening and closing the oven door at the 8 and 10 minute mark. This lets out any steam. When done, remove from the oven and transfer the baking paper from the tray to your work bench. Repeat with your remaining trays. Leave the shells on the baking paper until completely cool. They should then come off the paper easily.
PH recommends testing the oven temp with a few shells. I used 150°C for 13 minutes and it worked perfectly for my oven. The shells should not take on any colour. Once the cooked shells are cooled, it's a good idea to pair them up for filling.
To assemble the macarons, put the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip (I used a #12). Pipe a generous amount of filling onto one shell and top with its partner. Keep in refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving.
This recipe does make a huge amount, but the filled macarons freeze really well, so I recommend making the full amount. That way, when you feel like a macaron, you can just pull one out of the freezer. Hubby has advised me that they taste good straight from the freezer. I prefer to let them thaw out first.