Macarons with mint chocolate ganache

I haven't made macarons in months and not since I replaced my oven so I thought it was time to make a batch.  After all, I wouldn't want my Le Cordon Bleu training to go to waste.  Ha!  I'm just kidding about that!!  I did take a class at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris but it was just for fun, and just one short macaron-making class for beginners.  We took that trip right around this time last year and thinking about it always puts a smile on my face (as well as makes me hungry).
So I decided to make macarons with mint chocolate ganache.  I started with basic almond macaron shells, tinted them lightly in green to hint at the peppermint chocolate ganache filling within.  I love the classic combination of chocolate and mint, and the cooling sensation from peppermint so I flavored my chocolate ganache with peppermint extract.  You could also use a bar of mint chocolate instead.
 
Well, I was definitely a little rusty!  These macarons were far from my best work (though my body of work isn't all that extensive to begin with) but I've learned - particularly with macarons - not to let perfection be the enemy of the good.  Through trial and error, I've figured out that while making macarons isn't as impossible as I first thought, it can be a little unpredictable.   Regardless, the results are usually very delicious, and the flavor of these did not disappoint us one bit!
 
I hadn't had a macaron in a few months (for a while, I kind of OD'ed on them) and one bite reminded me of why I adore them so much.  It's a taste and textural thing.  They're slightly crisp on contact until that outer layer shatters to reveal a chewy yet soft center that's stuffed with chocolate ganache (mint chocolate in this case).  The slight grittiness from the ground almonds makes them all the more interesting and tasty.
I made a few mistakes with this batch of macarons.  The first is something I can't seem to resist doing and that's making my macarons too big!   The more serious offense, however, was over-mixing by a few strokes so that the batter was thinner than it should have been.  And as I mentioned, I was using my new oven, which seems hotter than the old one.  As a result of all these factors, the feet on my macarons flared out too much and the tops browned more than I wanted (I think trying to tint macarons just *lightly* is tricky because of that).  Ironically though, I didn't have as much of a problem with hallow shells as I usually do.  The middle of these cookies actually looked quite lovely with their pure green hue but no one would stop eating them long enough for me to take a picture!
 
I've come to expect curveballs when making macarons.  I seriously think you need to make them pretty regularly to keep up with the rhythm of it.  It can sense your fear and doubts if you have any (please excuse me for being overly dramatic today).
That said, I really do love my homemade macarons!  While most people will tell you to refrigerate your filled macarons at least overnight before eating so that the flavors meld and the centers soften, we like them any way and time.  My family and I prefer our macarons chewy so we don't mind eating them straight away.
I'm glad to have completed this inaugural batch of macarons in my new oven.  Hopefully, I'll do better with the next batch (my little one and I figure we'll make chocolate again next).

To see some of my past - somewhat more successful - macaron making attempts, please click on...

For details, instructions, tips, suggestions, and pictures of my macaron-making process, please take a look at this chocolate macaron post.  It also refers to my first and second attempts (warning: they're not pretty) if you're interested in seeing some disasters.  The other posts below also have more information.

Please indulge my walk down memory lane...
Aside from chocolate, I've also tried my hand at making these macarons:

Coffee Macarons - Would you believe this is probably my 7-year old's favorite macaron flavor!  He loves macarons as much as I do and I first made these at his request, and they were a huge hit.
Hazelnut Macarons - Often called praline, these are among my personal favorites!  I used a combination of hazelnuts and almonds for the shells and hazelnut paste combined with ganache for the filling.  It made for a delicious punch of hazelnut flavor...so scrumptious!

Chocolate-Hazelnut Macarons - Inspired by a delicious version I tasted from Bouchon Bakery, I took the gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut combination) theme a little further by making chocolate hazelnut macaron shells and filling them with a gianduja filling made of milk and dark chocolate ganache as well as more hazelnut paste. 

Pistachio macarons - I love how you can use combinations of nuts to create different macaron flavors.  The pistachio flavor really does come through even with (what else...) the chocolate filling.

Violet macarons - And at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, we made violet macarons with a cassis (black currant) and white chocolate ganache filling.  It was such a fun and memorable class!

One thing I learned is you can use the technique of combining white chocolate ganache with various kinds of pureed fruit or jams to make different flavor combinations for your macarons.  Great idea for the adventurous, I think!
I use the French method of making macarons.  The Italian method (i.e., making Italian meringue) is another way used by many expert macaron makers, and involves working with hot sugar syrup.  I'm not sure if this is truly the case but I suspect that the method you use affects the final texture of the macarons.  Since I like mine chewy (others prefer a softer, more subtle texture) and the French method has produced that for me, I've stuck with it. 

Incidentally, we also used the French method to make the macarons at the Le Cordon Bleu class.  At one point, I asked the French instructor, via our translator, how to avoid hallow shells since that's the biggest issue I have when I make them at home.  Funny enough, I noticed the instructor talking about things and answering other questions but mine didn't get answered.  Well, I think I figured out why when we tasted our macarons.  I noticed two things: 1) they were very chewy like the ones I make at home and 2) believe it or not...the macarons had hallow shells!

So unfortunately, I didn't discover any foolproof macaron making method at Le Cordon Bleu (but I loved that experience anyway).  I'd like to see if the Italian method would elminate my problem with hallow shells and I wouldn't mind testing my theory on the softer texture too.  For now, though, I'm happy with my homemade efforts and a little hesitant to change it up.  If you have any macaron tips or experience, I'd love to hear it!


Recipe:

Macarons with Mint Chocolate Ganache Filling
Recipe for macaron shells adapted from Tartelette (I've incorporated techniques I learned in other places and this is what worked for me); Ganache recipe adapted from David Lebovitz

Macaron Shells:

- Makes roughly 20 filled cookies, depending on their size (if you can make them smaller than I do!)-

110 grams almonds (I use blanched, slivered ones)
200 grams confectioners'/powdered sugar
90 grams egg whites, or from about 3 eggs (aged 1-2 days*)
30 grams granulated sugar

Green gel paste food coloring (optional)

*Aging the egg whites: Separate the egg whites and place in a bowl, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours. For longer than 24 hours (up to 5 days), store whites in the fridge and bring to room temperature before starting. The purpose of this is to eliminate moisture from the egg whites so that the batter will be thicker and you have an edge in your macaron making.

Grind the almonds and confectioners' sugar in a food processor until the nuts are finely ground and it looks like fine powder.   Pass the mixture through a medium-coarse sieve.   If there are large lumps remaining at the bottom of the sieve, place them back in the food processor and repeat.

In the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam.   Then gradually add the granulated sugar until you get a stiff, glossy meringue.   If using food coloring, add a small amount right before the egg whites reach stiff peaks and beat in.   Do not overbeat the meringue or it will be too dry and the macarons won't work.

Add the dry mixture to the meringue.   Give it a quick fold to break up some air and then carefully fold the mixture together. You want the whites to be incorporated and the mixture to be thick and lava like.   Test the batter by placing a dollop on a plate. If it holds its shape but the top flattens on its own, it is ready.   Otherwise, give the batter a couple more folds. The process should take less than 50 strokes; it is better to fold once and check rather than over do it.

Fill the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip that has about a 1/2 inch opening (I use Ateco #807).   Pipe 1 1/2 inch (or size you prefer) rounds onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheets at least an inch apart.  Rap the sheets 2-3 times firmly on the counter.   Let the macarons sit for about 20-30 minutes until the surface of the shells are slightly dry.

While the macaron shells are sitting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place baking sheets into the upper and lower thirds of the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 300 degrees.   Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on size).   Let cool completely before removing and placing on cooling racks.

When fully cooled, spread ganache onto one macaron shell and sandwich with another. Many people say macarons taste better with a little rest in the refrigerator.   Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days and bring them up to room temperature before eating.


Mint Chocolate Ganache Filling

- Makes more than enough to amply fill the macaron shells in the recipe above -

4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup*
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces*
1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract, or to taste

* You can omit the butter, and even the corn syrup, if you want to.  They give the ganache a bit of shine and fluidity that is not absolutely necessary.
 
Place chocolate into a heatproof bowl.   Heat the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan.   Remove the cream from the heat once it begins to boil around the edges.   Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for one minute.

Beginning at the center, slowly stir or whisk the chocolate and cream together until combined.   Stir in the butter until smooth.   Add peppermint extract and stir until combined.  Let the mixture sit at room temperature, stirring or whisking occasionally, until the ganache is fully cooled and just thick enough to spread.  (You can place the ganache in the refrigerator, if necessary, to speed up the process but make sure to check on it frequently since it will harden.) 

Use ganache immediately and work fairly quickly once it reaches the right consistency since it will continue to harden.


 

22 comments:

  1. Macarons are my fave! I went through a phase where I'd buy a whole box of them every Friday. It was an expensive habit. Making them at home is a much better idea!

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  2. Hi Dorie - I was on a macaron kick for a while too and so excited when Laduree opened in NYC. I over did it for a while there but whenever I taste a good one, I remember why I love them so much! (I first started making them at home because they are so expensive!)

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  3. These are beautiful! I still haven't gotten on the whole macaron band wagon...either making or eating. Maybe one day ;)

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  4. I adore macarons, but have never made them. We have a little french bakery around the corner from my office. The BEST macarons ever. Yours look even better!

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  5. Thanks!

    Amy - if you like pistachios, I recommend you try pistachio macarons...for some reason, people always point to that flavor being their favorite when they buy it somewhere. A lot of chocolate macarons can be complete duds, I find, which is a shame since I love it so much.

    Sally - that's great you have such a great source for macaraons near you! A lot of places are not that great but luckily, I'm very near NYC and there are a lot of good ones.

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  6. Such cute macarons! I like that you did a mint/choco combo, an absolute favourite!!

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  7. I'm not a macaron fan...they're fine, but not my favorite treat. There were massive ones at the Bouchon Bakery, though!

    For the hollow question, this might help?

    http://bravetart.com/blog/HollowPursuits

    She also shared some cool tips here: http://bravetart.com/blog/MacaronMyths

    Yours look beautiful! I can't get over how many kinds you have made. Well done!

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  8. I love macarons and this post has me craving for it! I used to not like mint chocolate but not anymore (in fact my last post was for mint chocolate bark hehe). All your macarons look fantastic!

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  9. Thanks for the links, Alyssa! I haven't seen the first one but I have read the second. It really seems like making macarons is best done with lots of practice and pretty specific to your oven, etc. I think oven temperature does have a lot to do with it but I'm pretty happy with my chewy macs that I won't lose too much sleep over it. : ) I really like the macarons at Bouchon Bakery - one of best I've had in NYC. They make smaller ones now as well; I think lots of people didn't like the big size. I don't know how they make theirs so smooth and perfect looking.

    Hi Bianca! Can I just say I *love* that you're a chocoholic (I am in the club) and glad you are now a mint-choc fan. : ) I keep Andes Mints at home all the time - for my son and kids that come by, theoretically, but it's just an excuse. I just love 'em. Your mint bark looks really tasty!

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  10. Yum!!! I love macarons! These look amazing (:
    xx http://andgeesaid.blogspot.com.au/

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  11. I had failed macaron baking attempts last weekend. Your recipe has renewed my excitement to try it till I get it right :)

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  12. Hi Kiran: I had a few ugly attempts before I got lucky and maybe figured out the rhythm a bit more. It's definitely a little unpredictable but my family and I enjoy it and it's nice to make it myself and save a lot of money doing so! : )

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  13. Mmmm, these look absolutely fantastic! Love the idea of a mint chocolate ganache, so yummy! :)

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  14. It's amazing how much a little infusion of mint adds to chocolate and how delicious it is. My little guy was busy enjoying our delivery of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies today so I know he can attest to that.

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  15. I REALLY wish that I can make macarons like you! No, I haven't attempted yet, but hoping that I can try one day... soon...but not so confident as I haven't really baked much in my life. Your macarons are so gorgeous! My mom and my son loves mint chocolate. They will be thrilled to have these macarons!

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  16. Thanks so much, Nami! Macarons are a little bit of a commitment to make but worth it if you love to eat them. You are obviously an incredible cook; I don't think you'd have any problems with baking!

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  17. your macarons are so, so lovely! Confession; i've never made a proper macaron. Ever. And i'd love to say that i'd tried and failed or something, but no...i have never tried it, because it seems like something that i automatically don't have the talent for. They make me nervous, but someday...someday. It's on my short list of things to do (and fail repeatedly at before possibly succeeding. :)

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  18. Shannon - I'm sure you would make macarons beautifully. It's more a matter of whether you think it's worth your time and effort. My family and I were really into them (including our 7-yr old) so I was motivated. I love desserts with nuts in them (and stuffed with chocolate, no less) so this is right up my alley.

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  19. Can you tell me the ingredient in like cups and tablespoon teaspoon please thanks

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    Replies
    1. I've always pulled out my little kitchen scale to make macarons so I don't have the cup measurements but to calculate the conversion, you can go here: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/cooking-conversions/cooking-conversions-calculator.aspx
      Also take a look at this: http://www.recipegoldmine.com/kitchart/kitchart2.html
      Good luck!

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  20. PEPPERMINT CHOCOLATE
    This is a before or after dinner mint that packs a lot more than a refreshing feeling after you consume it. This is pure delight for your taste buds.

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