It’s been a while since I’ve posted a certain little something…something a little tricky, a little fussy, but always worth it…when it works.
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
This is like the fourth or fifth time I have attempted this particular flavor of macaron, which I haven’t seen anyone do before. Every batch I’ve made up until this one has suffered the same horrible affliction as my “chocolate chip cookies” – no feet.
Not that these didn’t have their own issues – I actually baked them at too high of a temperature and the ones around the edges of the baking sheet got a little cracked, but the ones in the middle turned out perfect! It took me quite a while to figure out what my problem was, though.
At one point I was SURE that my almond meal was just too cold – I kept it in the freezer and I probably wasn’t bringing it up to room temperature before I mixed everything together. Right?
Wrong. Howeeeever…I did realize that the problem was related to the freezing of the almond meal. Specifically, the freezing and the thawing and the CONDENSATION that resulted. Yup, my almond meal was wet.
So I heated my oven just the slightest bit, then turned it off so it was still residually warm. I spread a bunch of the almond meal out on a baking sheet and let it sit in that nice warm oven for a little while, like ten minutes or so. It dried out quite nicely, and I was finally able to make the macarons I’d been trying to make for months.
Hibiscus Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling
For the Macarons:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Scant 1 Tbsp dried hibiscus flowers, plus a bit more for sprinkling
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 egg whites, aged & room temperature
- 3 drops red gel food coloring
In a food processor or heavy-duty blender (such as a Vitamix), pulse the granulated sugar and hibiscus until the sugar is a fine powder and the hibiscus is fairly finely ground. The sugar will be slightly magenta-colored. Let the ground sugar settle for a few minutes before attempting to remove the lid. Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high until they turn to foam, then gradually add the ground hibiscus sugar. Whip on high to stiff, glossy peaks, then quickly beat in the food coloring. Fold into the almond flour mixture until completely incorporated and gooey like magma. Using a large round tip or a pastry bag with no tip, pipe the batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet or two, with circles drawn on the underside of the parchment if you need a guide. Make sure to secure the parchment to the sheets with a dot of batter in each corner before piping the circles. The tops of the circles should flatten out on their own. In a mortar and pestle, roughly grind the remaining hibiscus and sprinkle a couple of tiny pieces on each of the piped circles. Allow to sit for an hour so that s kin can form on top of the macarons. Preheat the oven to 300, then bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not allow to get browned. Cool fully, then pop the macarons off the baking sheet and set aside.
For the Ganache:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (you could substitute milk or soy milk for health reasons if you’d like)
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate (around 70% cacao), chopped roughly (I used baking chunks that were already the right size – you shouldn’t use chocolate chips though, they have a shiny coating that will mess with the ganache)
Place the cream in a small saucepan over high heat. Put the chocolate in a medium, heat-proof mixing bowl. When the cream just comes to a boil, remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Let cool until thick and not runny. You can speed up the process in the refrigerator if you wish but keep the ganache safe from drips of condensation – they will cause the emulsion to break.
Once the ganache is thickened, pair the macaron shells up by size. Spread one of each pair with an even, not-too-thick coating of ganache (about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick) and gently press the matching shells into place. Let sit in a cool place for the ganache to set fully.
Hibiscus is such a wonderful, tangy, berry-like flavor, and goes well with the intense sweetness of macarons. If I had more time on my hands I would have liked to have filled these with a lemon curd or perhaps with a hibiscus jelly, but ganache is quick, easy and goes wonderfully with the tart little bits of chewy flower in the shells.
I’m also much better at piping now that I’ve had some formal practice and training in class, and it was no problem to get the batter piped correctly without any type of guide. The batter was also much thinner than when I’ve made it before, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually gotten it correct – the tops flattened right out and you can see that I got an even, shiny shell. I’m going to make another batch – in a different flavor – very soon, so watch out for more macarons!