I like impressing people… Which is why every year, on my birthday, I spend two days cooking and baking incredible things to get some “waou” out of my guests. Macarons do just the job and I’ve adapted Pierre Hermé’s (my favourite before Ladurée) recipe and flavours to one of my favourite flavour combination: Green tea and Dark chocolate.
Have you ever tried Green tea ice cream? In Japanese restaurants, they’ll sometimes have on their dessert menu a molten chocolate lava cake paired with a scoop of green tea ice cream… Forget about your traditional vanilla! This combination is so much more sophisticated and delicious. Incorporating it in a macaron is ultimate sophistication.
I’m not going to lie… Macarons aren’t simple. They are incredibly time-consuming and require a lot of concentration and precision. I usually don’t sit by the oven and watch whatever I’m making bake, but with macarons, I’m so stressed they won’t come out right that I do. And I’ve already cried in front of my oven while watching them turn into a big mess. That’s love/hate relationship right here.
However: what you get in the end, those delicate shells filled with creamy filling is worth every second of your effort. So if you have a whole afternoon to spare, please try this recipe. Pierre Hermé’s is really foolproof, so you can’t mess it up unless you skip a step.
This recipe makes 100 small-medium shells, so about 50 medium macarons (I’m not a big fan of the big ones, and find the minis too underwhelming so 6cm diameter for me is perfect).
Equipment you will need:
-candy thermometer (no you can’t do without… it’s the Italian meringue method but you can try the French here for example with another recipe) – it’s what makes this foolproof
-2 piping bags with a round nozzle
-several baking sheets/trays
-non stick parchment paper
-a fine sieve
-a really good oven
-some 6cm macaron shell template which you can print yourself (optional)
-a mini food processor (optional)
Ingredients for the shells:
-300g of ground almonds
-300g icing sugar
-4 heaped tsp matcha green tea powder
-110g liquified egg whites, cold (that’s egg whites that have sit in the fridge for at least 2 days)
-300g caster sugar
-75g/mL mineral water
-another 110g liquified egg whites
Ingredients for the ganache:
-250g good quality dark chocolate (I like it bitter and go for a 70% one)
-250mL double cream
-a drizzle of honey
To make the shells
- First important step is to sift the ground almonds and icing sugar together in a bowl. You cannot skip this and I think it’s the part of the recipe I hate the most because it is very time consuming. I have spent hours sifting the two ingredients but it’s very important. So sift them together in a large bowl, but not all at once. I do it 2 tbsp by 2 tbsp. In the end when you’re left with larger chunks of ground almonds, you can discard them or I blitz them in a mini food processor with the remaining icing sugar and it happens to work: they eventually pass through the sieve.
- Sift in the green tea powder and mix everything with a whisk.
- Add the first portion of 110g liquified egg whites to the dry ingredients but don’t mix.
- In a saucepan, place your water and sugar and place on a medium heat to prepare the syrup. Don’t let the syrup by itself and keep an eye on it, dipping the candy thermometer in the syrup every now and then to check the temperature. When it reaches about 110C, start beating the 2nd batch of egg whites with an electric whisk in a bowl. When the syrup reaches 118C, start pouring it gently in the egg whites while still beating.You will be left with a gorgeous marshmallowy meringue.
- Keep beating the meringue while checking its temperature: when it reaches 50C, start incorporating it in the dry ingredients by folding it in thirds with a wooden spoon or a spatula to not knock out too much air.
- Once you’ve incorporated all the ingredients, check your batter consistency: lift a bit of the mixture with the spoon or spatula and let it drop in the mixing bowl; if the bit of mixture you just dropped spreads enough that you can’t see its shape anymore after 10 seconds, you’re good to go. If it keeps its shape, fold the mixture a little more.
- Add some of the mix in a piping bag with a round nozzle (do this in batches – you do NOT want to put all that batter in one poor piping bag or you will be left with a big mess; I’ve learnt the hard way)
- If you’re using a template, place it under the parchment paper you used to line your baking sheets/trays. You don’t have to use a template and can just draw little circles with a pencil on the other side of the parchment paper; or you can do it by eye. Whichever way, start piping your shells on the circles: you need your piping bag to be perpendicular to the baking tray, and the nozzle to be really close to it and pipe, not by making little spirals but by adding pressure to the mix so that it spreads out. Make sure to not go all the way to the edges as the shell will spread out a little.
- Once the shells are piped, tap your baking tray on a flat surface, or on top of a folded kitchen towel, several times to knock some air bubbles out and then leave the shells to form a skin for at least 30minutes. You should be able to touch the shells after that time and the better won’t stick to your fingers.
- While the shells are left to dry, preheat your oven to 180C (Th 6).
- After 30minutes of drying, place the shells in the oven for 11-12minutes. You do not want to open that oven while they bake except for when you reach 4 minutes and 8 minutes: at those times, open the oven door really quickly to let some steam out.
- When they’re baked, they should have risen above their “feet” or “crown” and should maintain their green colour – don’t let them get golden or you will lose the green tea colour. Take them out of the oven and after 30seconds transfer the parchment paper on your working surface so they cool.
To make the filling:
- Chop your chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl.
- In a large saucepan, place your cream and bring it gently to a simmer. As soon as you see little bubbles on the edges, take it off the heat and pour it on top of the chocolate – you want all the chocolate to be covered. Leave it there for 2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes, start whisking gently until you have a smooth ganache and add a little drizzle of honey for extra shine.
- IF you’re unlucky, and the ganache start splitting, don’t panic. Pour in some hot milk very very slowly while mixing until it smoothes out.
- Leave it to cool on the side until you’re ready to pipe.
To assemble the macarons, transfer your cooled (not runny but still pliable) chocolate ganache – in batches again – in a piping bag (no nozzle needed) and snip the end. Pipe the ganache in the middle of the flat side of half the macaron shells; again, you want your piping bag to be perpendicular to the shell, and maintain the end of the piping bag close to the middle of the macaron shell while adding pressure so it will spread out a little. Let the ganache cover 3/4 of the shell as it will spread out to the edges when you sandwich the top shell on. When adding the top shell on, add a gentle pressure and your macarons are READY! Not… But they almost are! You need to store them in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight preferably, before serving: at this point, the shells are too hard and you will have crunchy macarons and that’s not nice. After resting in the fridge you will have soft and delicate treats so it’s worth this extra step of patience.
Hope you enjoy the macarons! I hope you give this recipe a try, and obviously, you can change the filling, discard the green tea and add food colouring to the shells to create whatever macaron you want!