Each month Jamie at Life’s a Feast and Deeba, at Passionate About Baking host a macaron extravaganza called MacTweets. They choose a theme and ask that all participant make macarons that include the chosen ingredients. This month Jamie and Deeba asked us to pair macarons with our favorite ice cream and for some unknown reason I spaced out on that and thought they had selected nuts. When I think about it nuts really don’t make any sense, but that’s what I was thinking when I saw hazelnut meal at the farmers’ market and got the inspiration for my entry. I hope they don’t mind if I join this month’s group even though my selection isn’t exactly what was asked for.
I have missed the last several MacTweet events so it was fun to get into baking mode again. Most bakers use almond flour for their macs, that’s all I’ve ever used, but when I saw Hazelnut Meal at my friend, Dave’s, booth at Cascade Hazelnut I knew I had to try it. Hazelnuts have a much stronger flavor than almonds and the texture of the meal is coarser than the almond flour from Bob’s Red Mill that I usually use. The little flecks you see are bits of skin that are on the hazelnuts when they are ground. If you like hazelnuts you will love, love, love these macarons.
You will find many recipes for macarons on the internet. I have tried several and my favorite is this recipe I found on my friend, Susan’s blog, Savoring Time in the Kitchen. She gives her macarons an Irish twist and fills them with a Bailey’s Irish Cream ganache. Go take a look. If you have ever thought of making macarons this will convince you to try it. The recipe is simple and the few steps involved have to be carefully done, but the results are worth the effort. I’ve made macs many times and still feel the elation of seeing those beautiful little domes and pretty little feet. It may take a little practice, but it is so worth the effort.
- 225 grams powdered sugar (Confectioner's Sugar)
- 125 grams almond flour (I used hazelnut flour in this recipe)
- 110 grams egg whites (left in a jar at room temperature for 1 to 2 days before using
- 30 grams granulated sugar (I use super fine baker's sugar)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- ¼ cut hazelnut cream or a nut butter of your choice
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons brandy or liqueur
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silicone baking mat. You may need a third sheet.
- Using a digital scale, measure the powdered sugar and hazelnut meal and put into a bowl. Sift the powdered sugar and hazelnut meal with a sieve to remove any large or coarse bits and return to the bowl. I process the hazelnut meal and powdered sugar in my food processor for about 20 seconds.
- Measure the egg whites with the digital scale and place in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt on medium high speed until they form soft peaks. Gradually, in small additions, add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. This process will take about 5 minutes.
- When the egg whites are glossy, add powdered or gel food color if desired and combine well.
- Add about one third of the nut/powdered sugar mixture to the egg whites and fold in. Add another third and fold and finally the last third. Keep folding until the mixture falls in a slow ribbon from the spatula.
- Using a pastry bag with a large round tip, pipe the mixture onto a lined cookie sheet into approximately 1-1/2 inch discs. If you are as bad at piping as I am you can draw circles on the back side of the parchment as a guide.
- After piping, tap the baking sheet on the counter to release any air bubbles, then allow the macarons to set at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before baking. You should be able to touch the top and not have it stick to your finger.
- I bake my macarons for 12 minutes at 325 degrees, turn off the oven, prop the door open several inches with a wooden spoon, and leave the macs in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from paper and cool on a wire rack. Every oven is different so you will have to experiment to find a cooking time that works best for you.
- Place the chopped chocolate and hazelnut cream in a medium bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate mixture and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Add the liqueur if desired.
To successfully make macarons a digital scale is necessary. Amounts need to be precise and this takes all the guesswork out of the measuring. Have all ingredients ready because the batter goes together quickly. The easiest way to fill a piping bag is to stand it up in a tall glass.
If you want to sprinkle a few chopped nuts on the tops of your macarons be sure to do it right after you pipe them. If the batter begins to set up they won’t stick. Sprinkle nuts on half of the macarons only. The halves with nuts won’t sit nicely on a plate. It only took me about 20 batches to figure that out.
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