The October Daring Bakers’ challenge is the most temperamental cookies of all – French macarons. I stopped making these about three years ago, as my little son developed a severe nut allergy. Grinding the nuts, then multiple sifting seemed extremely hazardous and life threatening. I loved the cookies, but mother’s love was stronger, so I gave up on them. I didn’t have my baking blog back then, so this is my first macaron post. Somehow, it hasn’t occurred to me before to look for nut flour substitutes. But it is actually possible. Finely ground coconut, along, or in combination with black sesame seeds produced familiar, very French result. The shape, the texture (thin crackly crust and moist interior) were just as they were supposed to be. I made two kinds:
- Coconut black sesame macarons filled with wasabi bittersweet ganache (totally awesome filling)
- Chocolate coconut macarons filled with white chocolate and mango ganache
This month’s challenge was hosted by Ami S., who chose the macarons recipe from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern, which worked for me with some minor baking time adjustments.
I would advise not to get discouraged by some intimidating information on the net concerning the macaron making. It’s definitely not a rocket science. I never had any problem myself; approached them knowing no fear and succeeded on the first attempt (unfortunately, I also didn’t know then that I accomplished quite a feat :)
Makes about 4 dozen sandwiches
For the macarons:
- 2 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar (225g)
- 2 cups almond flour (190 g) (I used 50/50 ground coconut and black sesame seeds)
- 5 egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp (25g) fine granulated sugar
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 20 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup whipping cream
- 2 tsp corn syrup
- 1 ½ tsp wasabi powder
For the white chocolate mango ganache: follow this recipe, using mango puree (make sure fruit is ripe and flavorful) and mango liqueur or white rum
Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
Cool on a rack before filling.