This past week I fell out of favour with macarons big time. Despite making them quite regularly now I had an EPIC fail when making my first batch of these chocolate and chestnut ones for our Dinner at the Manor vintage afternoon tea so I had to restart. I still wasn’t completely happy with my second batch if I’m honest but but both the Husband and Dan supperclub partner in crime told me to shut up and stop whining as they were, in their opinion, perfect. They tasted great, I just thought they could be smoother, neater.
Anyway, enough of the self pity, lets get back onto the macarons themselves. I wanted to create a flavour combination that was both festive and classic, and something that wasn’t going to be too rich, heavy and sweet and tip our guests over the edge after feeding them copious amounts of other delights that afternoon.
For my botched first attempt i went for my usual choice of the Italian method, as its more stable, but in the interests of time and my sanity, I used the French method for my second attempt. The chewy, crisp, sweet exterior of the macaron shell was offset nicely by the nutty, bitter chocolate filling. I’ll definitely be making these again before the festive season is out! If you can’t be bothered making your own filling, Nutella would be a good substitute.
Chocolate Chestnut Macarons
Makes about 24
3 egg whites, aged (i.e. seperated from the eggs and left in a covered container overnight at room temp)
a pinch of cream of tartar
50g caster sugar
150g icing sugar
120g ground almonds
25g cocoa powder
For the Filling
1/2 can chestnut puree
Caster sugar, to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp double cream
100g plain chocolate, melted
Add the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder into a food processor and blitz. This is to ensure the macaron shells end up as smooth as possible. Sift these into a large bowl, discarding any lumpy bits that won’t pass. if you like, you can try blitz these bits again but chances are there’ll be so little its not worth doing.
Whip the egg whites until they are foamy and then add in the cream of tartar. The cream of tartar is optional, I just find that it will help stabilise the meringue seeing as we’re using the French method. Then gradually add the caster sugar a teaspoon at a time until you get a nice, glossy meringue that just holds stiff peaks.
Now, here comes the anooying bit! Add the meringue to the almond mixture, carefully folding until there is not trace of meringue. However, you must be really careful not to overmix. You need to achieve what is called “macronage” or the ribbon stage – you can do as much research on this as you like but unless you try making macarons, then you’ll know what the right consistency is. Not very helpful i know, but this is why these things are such a b*****d to make!
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe round about 2.5cm in diameter, about an inch apart, onto baking parchment lined trays. If “macronage” has been achieved, the rounds should flatten out on the tops but not spread out.
Leave the macarons out for approx 30 mins or until they had developed a skin and are not sticky when lightly touched. (This can take longer). Preheat the oven to 170C and once the macarons are ready, carefully place in the oven. they will take about 14-15 mins to cook but this can depend on your oven. you’ll know when they are ready when the tops have hardened and the macaron feet (the frilly bits) don’t try and seperate from the rest of the shell when the top is lightly wiggled.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment onto your work surface and leave to cool. Once cool, carefully peel the shells away.
For the filling, beat the chestnut puree with sugar to your taste. Add to this the melted chocolate and the double cream until you get a smooth, pipeable ganache.
Spoon / pipe the filling onto the inside of one shell and sandwich with another shell. Refrigerate the macarons in a covered container. The flavours and texture of the macarons improve the day after assembling. This allows the flavours time to infuse and the filling helps to soften the shells slightly giving it a chewy texture.
Give these a go – you’ll either love me or hate me for it!