Coconut French Macarons... with Chocolate Filling. About 2 years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Paris, France. While there, we enjoyed trying out some of the French cuisine and plenty of pastries. Pastry shops abounded....and plenty of shops that sold lots and lots of chocolates. It was just a delight to experience the sweet aroma of chocolates as you entered the shop..and then trying to choose. That was always fun....what to get when there were so many choices. But then... there were the macarons.
Macarons were always displayed so beautifully in various sweet shops. There were plenty of opportunities to see them...macarons were everywhere(ok, maybe not everywhere, but it seemed that way...or maybe I focused too much on them:)). I always made a point to stop and admire them through the window. They were so beautifully displayed...in colorful boxes, tied with pretty ribbons, or stacked up neatly. The macarons came in all sorts of colors and there were plenty of flavors to choose from. But one day, while walking through the busy streets of Paris, my husband and I stumbled upon Pierre Herme's Macaron and Chocolate boutique....and I was just awestruck. It wasn't the chocolate that got my attention(though the chocolates were amazing)...but it was the macarons. I had never seen so many flavors... and so many colors. The shop clerk was very helpful to point out the flavor combinations and while we were pretty overwhelmed with all the choices, we ended up picking a few classic macarons...and even ventured to try the not-so-classic....the foie gras macaron. For sure, Pierre Herme's macarons were a treat I'll never forget. So fragile and yet so crispy and light...
Ever since I tried my very first French macaron in Paris a couple of years ago, I've wanted to make my own. While it has taken me some time to finally make them, I found the recipe from Gourmet magazine simple to make... I chose to use their recipe simply because I love coconut and I wanted my first homemade macaron to be a coconut one.
For some reason I was expecting failure( heard too many stories of failed macarons)....
I followed the simple rule of using day old egg whites and proceeded to make the macarons. I have heard that weighing the ingredients is crucial as well as sifting the almond flour mixture. For the first time, I wasn't so precise... as I only weighed the egg whites(and used ex-large egg whites instead of the large)and I didn't sift the almond/coconut mixture(just whisked the mixture very well to get out any lumps). I guess I wasn't looking for my recipe to come out perfectly the very first time, so I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Of course, there's always room for improvement...I felt the macarons were a tad bit sweet and the "feet" grew more sideways than upwards. But the macarons came out crispy on the outside while soft and chewy on the inside...sure, they weren't Pierre Herme's macarons, but we loved them nonetheless:).
I am already looking forward to making different flavors....and improving my skills:). The nice part is that they are also a great gluten-free dessert. So they'd be the perfect gift for the gluten-intolerant. Hope you enjoy...
Note: After baking my macarons, I found a really great informative(tutorial) blog post...HERE. It just might be worth reading. There's a wonderful video link as well. Lots of tips and ideas I'd like to implement next time.
It's also fun to make different sizes... Top photo is of a regular size macaron. Second photo is a bit larger in size....bottom third photo is of a few petite macarons( which I just loved).
You will need: Adapted from Gourmet
1 cup grated dried unsweetened coconut (3 oz)
2/3 cup slivered almonds or 3 oz almond flour (2/3 cup)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 large egg whites(I used ex-large whites, a total of 97 grams), aged*
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
*left to stand at room temperature 24 hrs
1. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Grind coconut and almond slivers with confectioners sugar in food processor until powdery, about 2-3 minutes....the finer you can get it the better. If using almond flour process until coconut and almond is powdery.
3. Sift the almond/coconut mixture through a medium-mesh sieve. (if not fine enough for almost all of nuts to go through sieve, regrind). Sift again. Now, I simply just whisked the almond mixture until there were no lumps...and whisked again, to ensure the mixture was light and aerated....and probably whisked again:).
4. Beat egg whites with salt in a bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks.
5. Increase speed to high and beat in granulated sugar, 1 TBS at a time. Beat until meringue holds stiff, glossy peaks, about 1 minute or so.
6. Add almond/coconut mixture to the stiff beaten egg whites, 1/4 cup at a time, and lightly fold 4-5 times after each addition or until most of the nut mixture is incorporated.
7. Fold the whole macaron batter with a rubber spatula(gently) one last time...until completely incorporated....if need be fold a few times. (Batter will be loose and have lost some of the volume.)
PIPE AND BAKE MACARONS:
1. Spoon half of batter into pastry bag. It's nice to place the bag in a large drinking glass and then pour the macaron batter in the bag. Eliminates a lot of mess and if the batter leaks at the tip, the glass will contain it.
2. Holding bag vertically just above baking sheet, pipe 1 1/2 inch-wide mounds of batter about 1 inch apart (tamp down any peaks with a wet finger).
3. Refill pastry bag and repeat.
4. Let macarons stand, uncovered, at room temperature until a light crust forms, 20 to 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 300°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
1. Bake macarons, switching position of sheets halfway through, until crisp and interior does not give in easily when you gently press it...depending on oven, 22 to 28 minutes total. ( I think next time, I'll do one tray at a time )
2. Cool completely on baking sheets, about 30 minutes....
3. Loosen macarons from parchment with offset spatula...be careful as they can be fragile).
~~I ended up lifting the macaron off the parchment paper while still a bit warm( so they wouldn't stick as they cooled) and left them on the baking sheet to cool completely.~~
Chocolate Filling: adapted from Martha Stewart
You can use a store-bought chocolate/nut butter. Or simply make your own ganache... and flavor it, if you like.
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened
Directions for the ganache:
1. Add the cream to a saucepan. Hear on medium-high heat and bring it to a boil.
2. Remove from heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes.
3. Add butter, then whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool and stir it often. Use immediately.
1. Make chocolate ganache( or use a store-bought chocolate-nut butter) and fill a small plastic bag.
2. Snip off one corner and pipe around the edge of one macaron...fill inside and top with another macaron.