Sunday, June 17, 2012

White chocolate and raspberry macarons

I wanted to make some brightly coloured macarons but wasn't sure which fruit to go for. I initially tried to make cherry icing, which I didn't like. So instead of ruining the perfect shells with a not so nice filling I decided to try making a white chocolate and raspberry ganache, which was delish. I used raspberry jam to make it as I didn't have fresh raspberries at hand, but I think those would be a nice substitute.

For the shells:

90 gr egg whites - separated the night before
30 gr granulated sugar
220 gr icing sugar
110 gr almonds
red food colouring

Whisk the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Add the food colouring and continue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be dry. Put the icing sugar and almonds through a food processor until the nuts are finely ground. Sift them into the meringue, give it a quick fold initially to get it mixed and then start folding carefully until you obtain a batter that smooths itself after about 15 seconds. 
Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns. Note: if the mixture flattens too quickly you've over-mixed it.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe small rounds of the batter (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Let the macarons sit out for 45 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool before you remove them from the tray.

For the ganache:

80g whipping cream
100g white chocolate
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
red food colouring (optional)

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan until boiling, then add to the chocolate. Mix until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the raspberry jam, and a couple of drops of food colouring should you so choose. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Homemade chocolates with gianduja and caramelized almond filling

The best thing about making chocolates at home is the leftover melted chocolate, which obviously it would be a crime not to spoon. The key disadvantage is that you end up with chocolate all over the place - up to your elbows. Or maybe it's just me. I've also never been able to eat ice cream in a cone without eliciting points and laughs. 

I have to say I thought this would be an easier recipe, melt the chocolate, make the filling, put it all into the mold, and voila, I thought naively. The problem is that the chocolate has to be tempered, and kept at a specific temperature till it's used, so I ended up heating and cooling chocolate, particularly as I had underestimated how much chocolate I would need. Also, I made the mistake of trying to make the filling, the almonds, and tempering the chocolate all at once, which apparently is not advisable. The best idea is to finish the fillings, then concentrate on getting the chocolate right.

This recipe makes about 30 chocolates.

Gianduja filling (pronounced Jan-du-ya, apparently) 

75g skinned, quality hazelnuts
75g powdered sugar
75g couverture dark chocolate, 50g of it melted

Roast the hazelnuts in the oven at 175 degrees C until they are golden brown (approx 10 mins). Take them out, and while they are still hot, grind them with the powdered sugar. This is a long process, because basically they need to be ground to the point where a sufficient amount of oil has been released by the hazelnuts, so that the mixture turns to liquid (yes this will eventually happen). Mix in the 50g melted chocolate, and the 25g solid chocolate, and keep mixing until the mixture has cooled to 27 degrees C.

Caramelized almonds

1/2 cup of almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and scatter the almonds onto the tray so that they are quite close to each other. Sprinkle with brown sugar, put in the oven. After 10 minutes, take out the tray and mix the almonds with the caramelized brown sugar so that they are all covered. Leave in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Tempering the chocolate

300g dark couverture chocolate

Break all of the chocolate into small pieces and melt 200g of it using a double boiler until it reaches 45 degrees C. Take it off the heat, add the 100g remaining chocolate, and mix continuously until the melted chocolate cools to 27 degrees C. Then put the melted chocolate back over the heat for 5-10 seconds until it reaches 31 degrees C. At this point the chocolate is tempered and ready to use. If it cools before you get a chance to use it, reheat to the same temperature. 

Molding the chocolate

Fill the molds to the brim with the melted chocolate then turn upside down over a large bowl so that all of the extra melted chocolate is emptied with just enough chocolate left in the molds to cover the bottom. Use a spatula to remove remaining melted chocolate around the mold, then tap the mold on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Remove from the fridge then fill the molds half way with the gianduja filling, topping it with a caramelized almond. Tap on the counter and refrigerate again for 10 minutes.

Finally, top the molds with melted chocolate, using a spatula to remove any excess around the sides. Tap on the counter to remove air bubbles, and refrigerate for 10 minutes. 

At this point your chocolate are ready and you can remove them from the fridge and store them at room temperature (storing them in the fridge for too long will cause them to sweat).