National Chocolate Week

October 15th, 2013

A fortnight that includes National Curry Week followed by National Chocolate Week sounds like too heavenly a combination to miss out on! We’ve decided to spoil you with a couple of recipes this week from two of our most decadently sweet books from recent years. On Thursday, we’ll share a recipe from the amazing Divine recipe book. But for today, we have this exquisite macaroon recipe from the magical book of chocolate recipes from Louise Nason’s incredible Notting Hill chocolate boutique, Melt.

Chocolate Macaroons

 

Shop-bought macaroons have a tendency to be far too sweet and powdery. However, since we make ours in a small kitchen with a domestic oven, as you would at home, and not on an industrial scale, we think Melt macaroons have more depth. We fill them with a really thick layer of ganache, which is utterly delectable.

Makes about 80

250g ground almonds
250g icing sugar
45g good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
210g organic egg whites
250g caster sugar
75g water

For the ganache
290g dark chocolate (66 per cent cocoa solids), finely chopped
250g double cream
70g milk
60g liquid glucose
70g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Put the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor and whizz until fine and lump free. Transfer to a large bowl.

Measure out 105g of the egg whites, add to the ground almond mixture and stir until you have a paste. Set aside. Put the remaining 105g egg whites in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Put the caster sugar and water in a small, heavy-based pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil, without stirring, until it reaches 118°C on a sugar thermometer. Shortly before it reaches this temperature, start whisking the egg whites on medium speed, just to aerate them. Slowly pour in the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl, whisking all the time. After the sugar syrup has all been added, continue to whisk on medium speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks; it should be at body temperature.

Add about half the meringue to the ground almond mixture and fold in roughly to loosen it. Quickly mix in the remaining meringue until just combined; be careful not to overwork it or it will become too loose.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with an 8mm nozzle. Pipe it into 2.5cm rounds on to baking sheets lined with baking parchment or silicone baking mats. Lightly tap each baking sheet on the work surface a few times to smooth the top of the macaroons. Leave to stand for 30 minutes, until slightly dry to the touch. Preheat the oven to 130˚C/Gas Mark three-quarters.

Bake the macaroons for 10–15 minutes – lift one off the paper to check if they’re done; it should come off with only a little resistance. If your macaroons have succeeded perfectly, each one will have a little frilly section at the base – this is known as the ‘foot’. Remove the baking parchment or silicone mats from the trays, complete with macaroons, and leave on a work surface to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the ganache. Put the chocolate in a bowl. Place the cream, milk and glucose in a small pan and heat to boiling point, then pour on to the chocolate. Stir from the middle to emulsify. Check on a digital thermometer that the temperature is no higher than 45°C, then gently mix in the butter. Leave in a cool place until firm enough to pipe.

Carefully peel the macaroons off the paper. Match them up into pairs of equal size. Put the ganache in a piping bag fitted with an 8mm nozzle and pipe on to the flat side of half the macaroons, then sandwich them together with their matching halves. They are best left in the fridge overnight before serving, but bring them to room temperature before you eat them.

Recipe taken from Melt: A Book of Chocolate by Louise Nason and Chika Watanabe. Photography © Jean Cazals.