Long Time Coming

August 30th, 2009

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.

They have FEETS!

They have FEETS!

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.

There are actually more than three, but some got cracky and others got smeary.

There are actually more than three, but some got cracky and others got smeary.

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.

There's more flowery bit on top for maximum flower flavor!

There's more flowery bit on top for maximum flower flavor!

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?

You can stack 'em up! Sort of!

You can stack 'em up! Sort of!

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.

What if they build the pyramids out of macarons?...Well, they wouldn't be here anymore, for one.

What if they build the pyramids out of macarons?...Well, they wouldn't be here anymore, for one.

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.

In the spotlight! Which is actually Bowser's light! Sorry Bowser :(

In the spotlight! Which is actually Bowser's light! Sorry Bowser :(

Hibiscus Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling

For the Macarons:

  1. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  2. Scant 1 Tbsp dried hibiscus flowers, plus a bit more for sprinkling
  3. 1 cup almond flour
  4. 1 cup powdered sugar
  5. 3 egg whites, aged & room temperature
  6. 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. 1/2 cup heavy cream (you could substitute milk or soy milk for health reasons if you’d like)
  2. 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!

14 Responses to “Long Time Coming”

  1. deeba says:

    Macs after my heart, and then ‘they’ ask if I am obssessed? Who wouldn’t be after seeing these stunning cookies! BEAUTIFULLY DONE Anna. BOW to you!!

  2. Jamie says:

    Anna, these macs are gorgeous! Fabulous job and one to make us envious and that will inspire us to get our own macs made. Beautiful macs, beautiful recipe!

  3. Jenni says:

    I’m enjoying the pairing–go Anna! :)

  4. Oh you’re so tempting me with those dried hibiscus flowers-I really want to get a hold of some! Yes dry almond meal is apparently the key and when you refrigerate it it also gets a bit damp. Temperamental little buggers aren’t they? :P

  5. andreabrand says:

    These are absolutely lovely!

  6. Caitlin says:

    Just gorgeous! I giggled at the “they have feets” comment though – 100% my reaction at my first successful macaron baking.

  7. hungry dog says:

    These are stunning! I have never made them but know they can be quite tempermental. Nice job.

  8. Carolyn Jung says:

    How lovely and exotic these are! I wish I could go buy a dozen right now. But I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously by staring at the pretty photos. I bet hisbiscus and chocolate are a match made in heaven, with the flowery tang smoothed by the rich chocolate.

  9. Sophia says:

    oh my god…absolutely tempting and heart-pulling, with the mesmerizing hibsiscus flowers…Your skills are impressive! I know macarons aren’t easy to make!

  10. Anh says:

    Your macs look absolutely perfect!

  11. Y says:

    Prettttty! I love the colour, and the little dried hibiscus on top.

  12. Aparna says:

    They’re perfect Anna. Didn’t know you were baking some too while the Mac Gang were doing theirs. :)
    All I could think of when I saw mine was the “feets”!
    We have lots of hibiscus here but never tried drying them.

    Btw, re: a comment you left on my ricotta cookies. How do you make thumbprints with ricotta?

  13. cindy says:

    the feets make it all worth while!

  14. Jennifer says:

    look absolutely scrumptious. well done!

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