Monday, July 4, 2011

S'more Macarons

Happy Fourth of July! I figured it would be fun to share these S'more Macarons with you today, since this particular holiday is a perfect barbecue holiday. And what better treat to top off a barbecue with than a s'more? You know what I'm talking about. Just before you retire the grill after an evening of cooking up burgers and hot dogs, you toast up a bunch of marshmallows and smash them between some graham crackers and chocolate. Mmm!

Now, I have a confession to make here. These macarons did not come easily for me. I managed to get them to turn out looking relatively pretty in the end, and they tasted really, really awesome! But for some reason I have not been able to make them as well as I did the very first time, which was about a year ago. Maybe it was beginners' luck; maybe I got overly confident after that and just assumed that I'd always be able to turn out lovely-looking macarons thereafter. I don't know, but I definitely have not duplicated my first success with them.

Last week, I made the above macarons; what a disaster those were! I think my problem was the almond flour I used. I had been storing it in the freezer (I'm not sure I should have been doing that in the first place), and recently our freezer had been left open too long one day and things started thawing out. I believe that some moisture may have gotten into the almond flour bag, and the excess moisture created a problem when I was making the macarons. The batter was incredibly runny; the macarons almost immediately began running into each other on the baking sheets! I decided to bake them anyway (because, really, why not?) and they still tasted okay. I knew that I needed to try again, though. My confidence was low, and I wanted another chance to redeem myself!

This time around, they turned out a lot better. Granted, the macarons were just a little bit too big, and the feet on the bottom of each shell ended up being pretty imperfect. They formed out on the sides, rather than underneath the shell. But the cookies taste wonderful, and the filling definitely works great and reminds you of a real s'more. I simply took some marshmallow fluff straight out of the jar, put a scoop on one macaron shell, then slapped some dark chocolate that had been melted down with butter on another macaron shell. Finally, I sandwiched the fluff half and the chocolate half, then put them in the fridge to help them set and the chcolate to harden back up. They're wonderfully soft and dreamy, but then the outer shell of the macaron gives it that little bit of crispiness that's such a great texture contrast. It may not be the traditional graham cracker/Hershey's combo you're used to, but it's a really fun spin on the old standard!

S'more Macarons
adapted from Tartelette
makes about 32 shells (for 16 sandwich cookies)

90 g. (about 3) egg whites, aged for at least 24 hours
110 g. blanched almond flour
200 g. confectioners' sugar, sifted
30 g. granulated sugar

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy. Slowly drizzle in the granulated sugar, then continue whipping the egg whites until you have achieved medium (floppy) peaks.

2. Meanwhile, sift together the almond flour and the confectioners' sugar, making sure to discard any larger bits of almond you may find. Add the almond flour mixture to the meringue. Begin folding the almond flour into the meringue quickly, taking care to slow down as the mass begins to come together. Continue to mix just until the mixture becomes uniform and slightly runny. When you lift up your spatula and allow a few drops to drip back into the bowl, it should run back into the mixture by the count of 5. The whole mixing stage should not exceed 50 strokes.

3. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Transfer the batter to a large pastry bag fitted with a large, plain tip. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible, then begin piping your macaron shells. Pipe small rounds (about 1.5 inches in diameter) onto the baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

4. Give each baking sheet a firm rap on the counter, to release any air bubbles. When the bubbles rise to the surface, you may pop them with a toothpick. Allow the unbaked macaron shells to sit on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, to harden their outer shells.

5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Bake each sheet, one at a time, for about 10-12 minutes, depending on their size. Allow them to cool on a rack before attempting to remove the shells from the parchment. Once they are cool, you may fill them.

S'more Filling

1 jar marshmallow fluff (you do not need the entire jar)
1.5 oz. dark chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1. In a small saucepan, melt together the chocolate chips, corn syrup, and butter over low heat. Once melted, stir and allow to cool slightly before using.

2. To assemble the S'more Macarons, scoop about a teaspoon of marshmallow fluff onto one macaron shell. On a second shell, spread the chocolate mixture. Sandwich the two halves together, then repeat with the remaining shells. Refrigerate the macarons for at least 30 minutes to set them before serving. Leftover macarons can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

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