Anybody that has been to Paris has at one time or another ran into Parisian Macaron. I wrote Macaron or Les Macarons not to be confused with a similar sandwich-like pastry, but written “Macaroons”. So, the Macaron is a traditional French pastry, made of egg whites, almond powder, icing sugar and sugar; it’s a delicacy you will see in many ordinary French bakeries. I started to bake Macaron after moving to the Netherlands as I couldn’t find any decent shop were I could buy the sweet crunchy almond cookie with a creamy and subtle flavoured filling.
Sure macarons can be pesky and frustrating. Making even perfectly lady-like women, call them obscene names on occasion, but they’re certainly not impossible.
In fact, getting a cookie that is close to ideal isn’t all that difficult. Of course getting the perfect macaron, where every detail is just right, that can be tough. But isn’t it the case with any other kind of pastry? So don’t be scared and just keep on experimenting until you get them just right.
Today I made a classic Macaron shell, delicately coloured and sparsely speckled with espelette chilli pepper flakes. Make sure you use good quality chilli flakes and that the flakes are small and even.
The filling is a creamy white chocolate ganache with a hint of lime and the little surprise is the fresh raspberry in the middle.
Lime and Espelette chili pepper Macarons:
Serves: 40 Macarons
Cooking Time: Prep time 30 mins, cook 17 mins (plus 45 mins resting)
For the white shells:
– 200gr egg whites
– 440gr icing sugar
– 250gr almond meal
– 40gr caster sugar
– Espelette chili pepper
– Green food coloring
For the lime ganache:
– 2 lime
– 100gr white chocolate
– 200gr cream
For the lime ganache:
Bring 100gr cream just to the boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, add chocolate, stand until melted (5 minutes), stir until smooth and glossy. Add in the juice of the 2 limes + zest. Refrigerate until firm yet still pliable (at least 1 hour – ideally a couple of hours) then stir until smooth.
Add the remaining of the cream (100gr) to your ganache, and “monter” the ganache. Then spoon the mixture into a piping bag, reserve.
For the shells:
Process icing sugar and almond meal in a food processor until finely ground, triple-sift into a large bowl and set aside.
Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (1-2 minutes). Add caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, while whisking continuously until incorporated and mixture is thick and glossy (3-4 minutes).
Stir in almond mixture in batches until incorporated and mixture slowly slides down sides of bowl when bowl is tilted.
Separate your mixture into two bowls: one for the Chili pepper shells and one for light green shells.
Add the food colouring to one of the bowls.
Spoon into a piping bag each of the mixtures with a 1cm plain nozzle, pipe 3cm-diameter rounds of mixture onto heavy baking-paper-lined oven trays, and sparkle the white shells with espelette chili pepper.
Stand until a crust begins to form (45min-1 hour).
Preheat oven to 150°C. Bake Macarons until firm but not coloured, swapping trays halfway through cooking (17 minutes), set aside, cool completely on trays.
Finally take your filling out of the fridge and place a bit of ganache onto half the Macarons, add a fresh raspeberry in the middle and add another shell to create a beautiful French Macaron.
Note : I recommend not to eat your Macarons right away, of course you can try a few of them after all the effort you’ve put in them. But if you can resist, let them sit in your fridge for a day. This will make sure that the flavour of the shells and the ganache become one.
Macaron best friend is a bubbly. I recommend to pair these Macarons with an ice cold Brut “Masottina” Prosseco as the flavour of this wine are fruity but dry which balance the sweetness of the Macaron.
The Dutch boyfriend’s opinion:
It has been a while since my “chérie” offered me some macarons. In previous reviews I commented on the amount of work it takes to create these little bites, and I actually took my own advice: I stayed away during the preparing process. Even though this sounded as a good strategy for me, I realized that this evading could come back to haunt me. So when I eventually returned to the kitchen, I did so expecting a good old fashion French scolding.
Except, when I cautiously turned my head around the corner of our kitchen, I only saw a happy little French girl smiling at me. Soon I learned that my absence hadn’t been noticed at all, since Santa’s early visit this year was responsible for that big smile on my girlfriends face. The Kitchen Aid apparently did a better job than I did mixing and whipping.
The way Raphaëlle looks at it might make me jealous and all, but the macarons were smoother and quicker to prepare. And the taste of these Lime and Espelette chili pepper was great! Definitively my favorite so far, especially when you let them rest for a night: the separate flavors become one and the hard shell softens a bit. Plus, they look pretty.
OK, off to drinking beer and watching football.