Recipe: Vanilla Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

Can you believe I only first had a macaron a couple years ago? Seriously, I'm pretty sure I was living under a rock, but now I am obsessed. The perfect macaron has a crispy shell with a moist, chewy inside and a decadent creamy filling.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Luckily, I came across a simple recipe for macarons so I can get my fix anytime.

When it comes to making macarons, there are two absolutes: First and foremost is patience. Patience is a MUST when it comes to making macarons-- take your time. Second is a kitchen scale. This recipe isn't measured in cups, it's measured in grams. You should be able to find kitchen scales relatively inexpensively. I think I found mine at a dollar store.

The recipe isn't difficult to follow but it does take some technique, which I'm getting better at. I was a bit hasty with this last batch and they didn't come out as good as my first, but they were still yummy and in the end that's what matters! This weekend, put your baking skills to the test and make this delectable treat for your honey... or for yourself :P

Vanilla Macarons (adapted from The Baker Chick)
110g Ground Almond Flour
200g Confectioners Sugar
100g (3) Egg Whites
1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
50g Sugar

Chocolate Ganache
4 oz. Chocolate, finely chopped (I used 3 oz. Dark Chocolate and 1 oz. milk chocolate because that's what I had on hand. I recommend bittersweet, but you can go with whatever chocolate you fancy!)
1/2 cup Cream
2 tbsp. Butter, softened

Combine almond flour and confectioners sugar in food processor and pulse until mixed. Sift this dry mixture into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites using a mixer, or a whisk if you want a good arm workout, until stiff peaks form. You'll know when you have stiff peaks when you can lift a beater or whisk and the peaks stand straight up. Kind of like the 'There's Something About Mary' hair scene... remember that?? Add the vanilla extract and granulated sugar to the egg whites and beat until it turns glossy.

Gently fold the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites mixture until incorporated and mixed, however do not overmix. The batter should be light and airy. Put mixture into pastry bag with a large round tip. then pipe 1/2"-1" rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Tip: Do yourself a favor and get a silicone baking sheet-- these are amazing! Be sure to leave space between each round and let the sheet sit out for about an hour so they can develop a shell. Trust me, let them sit out. If you put them in the oven immediately, the shells will crack.

Preheat oven to 300* and bake for 12 minutes. After removing from the oven, let the macarons cool completely and then remove from the baking sheet. When you are ready to fill, match up with halves close in size.

To make the chocolate ganache, heat cream in saucepan in stove over medium heat until it boils. Pour into a bowl over chopped chocolate and gently stir to melt the chocolate. Add in butter until and stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator until thick, about 30 minutes. Put into pastry bag or plastic bag to pipe onto cookies, snipping end of bag about 1/2-inch from the bottom.

Squeeze  ganache into center of flat half of macaron, top with another macaron and squeeze very gently. Ganache should not ooze out (hey, it happens!). For best results, refrigerate macarons 24 hours before serving. If you can wait that long!

I'll leave you with a funny story: I had everything set up to take pictures of my macarons for this post-- my photo light box, my cute glittery hearts, had the macarons arranged perfectly
....and then catzilla happened:

 Happy Valentine's Day!

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