Saturday, January 28, 2012

French Chocolate Macarons حلوى المعكرون الفرنسي بالشولاته


Makes about fifteen cookies

Macaron Batter
  • 1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
  • 3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
  • ½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 4 ounces (120 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15 gr) butter, cut into small pieces

Prune Filling
  • 15 medium prunes (pitted), about 5 ounces (150 gr) prunes
  • 2½ ounces (70 gr) best-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Armagnac
Procedure
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.
  3. Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.
  4. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
  5. Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
  6. Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
  7. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

To make the prune filling:
  1. Cut the prunes into quarters and pour boiling water over them. Cover and let stand until the prunes are soft. Drain.
  2. Squeeze most of the excess water from prunes and pass through a food mill or food processor.
  3. Melt the milk chocolate and the Armagnac in a double boiler or microwave, stirring until smooth. Stir into the prune puree. Cool completely to room temperature (it will thicken when cool.)

To make the chocolate filling:
  1. Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.
Assembly
  1. Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macarons then sandwich them together. (You can pipe the filling it, but I prefer to spread it by hand; it’s more fun, I think.)
  2. Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors.
  3. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macarons soggy.