Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Chocolate Macaroons

Chocolate Macaroons
So after making a delicious batch of vanilla ice cream on Sunday I had quite a few egg whites left over. What to do? Two thoughts came to mind. The first, the anorexic Hollywood starlet staple the egg-white omelette, was instantly dismissed – no matter what ingredients you'd add it just wouldn't be as good as if it had the yolks as well. The second thought was the trusty meringue. Bit predictable. So after a quick Google search I stumbled across this chocolate macaroon recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, someone who I've had a lot of time for ever since I saw him make his Christmas 10-bird turducken (footage of which seems to have sadly been removed from YouTube). Anyway, these macaroons were perfect: crisp outer, with a soft and chewy middle, and a velvety ganache filling. Well done, Hugh, and not a wood pigeon or partridge in sight. Makes 12.

125g icing sugar

3 tbsp cocoa

165g ground almonds

3 egg whites
55g caster sugar

¼ tsp vanilla extract

For the ganache:
100g plain chocolate, chopped into small pieces
100ml double cream

1. Heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Dip a 4.5cm circular biscuit cutter or small glass into flour, and use it to mark out 24 circles on the parchment set about 3cm apart (this will make it easier to make even-sized macaroons).
2. Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl, and whisk in the almonds. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy, then gradually whisk in the sugar until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Stir half the almond mixture into the egg whites, then add the rest, along with the vanilla, and fold until just combined.
3. Transfer the mixture to a plastic bag and cut a 1cm hole in the bottom. Pipe on to the baking sheets using the flour circles as your guide. Tap the sheets hard on a worktop to eliminate air bubbles.
Bake until the macaroons feel slightly firm, about 18 minutes. Remove, allow to cool slightly, then transfer on the parchment to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a bowl. Warm the cream in a small saucepan until barely simmering, pour this over the chocolate, leave to stand for two minutes, then stir until the mix is smooth and cool. Spread some ganache on to half the macaroons and sandwich together with the remaining ones. Refrigerate, covered, until you're ready to serve.

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