Macarons are heavenly little discs of almond meringue stuck together with butter, fruit or chocolate based fillings. I was lucky enough to attend classes at Le Calabash cooking school in France where Alison Bond (an amazing pastry chef) showed how to make a variety of macarons. Initially, I was not looking forward to this particular lesson as I mistakenly confused macarons with macaroons (chocolaty globs of coconut that my mother loved). I am glad I was wrong on that one!
Last year I made some delicious Vietnamese chocolate beignets filled with a dark chocolate pink peppercorn truffle filling and wanted to see if I could recreate those flavours using the Le Calabash macarons as a base. The modified recipe appears below.
The chocolate ganache was made first. Pink peppercorns are finely ground.
Chocolate is weighed out and placed into a bowl. Ground pepper, honey and heavy cream are boiled and poured over the chocolate. The pepper is adjusted to taste and the chocolate placed into a pastry bag after cooling.
Ground almonds, icing sugar egg whites and cocoa are folded together with Italian meringue. The mixture is then folded/pressed with the spatula until is is the right consistency (this is called ‘macaronage’). The batter should be glossy and form ribbons when poured. The mixture is put in a pastry bag.
The batter is piped into small circles. I used parchment paper (that I drew circles on) in the past but it would wrinkle and some of the macarons would have an odd shape. This time I used a silicon mat from DeBuyer and it was a huge improvement.
The shells are baked, filled and enjoyed. The original version of this recipe (without the pepper) has a wonderful bold chocolate flavour. The pink peppercorn was a good addition to the chocolate but next time I think I will try to slightly tone down the chocolate intensity by using a mixture of dark and milk chocolate.
Pink Peppercorn Dark Chocolate Macarons Recipe
- 55 g aged egg white (leave in refrigerator 4-5 days)
- 145 g ground almonds
- 150 g icing sugar
- 10 g 100% cocoa powder
- 150 g sugar
- 37 g water
- 55 g aged egg white (4-5 days old)
- 200 g dark chocolate (I used Valhrona Manjari 64%)
- 250 g heavy cream
- TT fresh ground pink peppercorn (I ground ~ 1 Tbsp/15 mL of whole peppercorns)
- 15 g honey
- Prepare your mise en place. (Measure out all of your ingredients and prepare your work space).
- Heat cream, honey and ground peppercorns in a pot. (It may be wise to go a little light on the pepper – you can add more later). Remove from heat, cover and let infuse for 30 minutes.
- Reheat the cream mixture until boiling and pour over chopped chocolate pieces. Mix until smooth.
- When cool enough to sample, adjust seasoning to taste. Place in refrigerator to set. Transfer mixture into a pastry bag when cool.
- Place ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa in a food processor and process for ~60 seconds. (I would suggest presifting your almonds before measuring. The particles in the almond flour/almond meal that we get in Canada are not consistent in size. The almonds need to be quite fine or your shells will be lumpy looking and taste grainy.)
- Sift almond and sugar mixture into a bowl
- Add 55 g egg white to almond/sugar mixture but do not stir. (If you want to add powder food colouring, this is the time to do it.)
- Combine sugar and water to 118 C.
- While sugar syrup is heating, whip 55 g egg whites to soft peaks
- Carefully pour hot sugar mixture into egg whites while beating.
- Allow the meringue to cool to 50 C (with mixer still running).
- Add meringue to the bowl with the almond/sugar mixture and fold together.
- Perform macaronage – press spatula against bottom of bowl using small round movements (to compress mixture). Continue until the mixture is glossy and forms ribbons when poured.
- Put batter into a piping bag with a 6, 7 or 8 pastry tip.
- Pipe batter into small circles (~3.5 cm) onto prepared parchment or silicon sheet. The batter will spread so leave adequate room between them.
- Leave sit for at least 30 minutes. The surface should dry out a little and not stick to your finger when touched. (This step allows the feet, the little ridge at the bottom of the shell to form).
- Put into 180 C preheated oven for 12 minutes. Open oven door for a few seconds at 8 and 10 minutes to let any steam out.
- Remove from oven and let cool before removing from the trays.
- Match like sized shells up to form the top and bottom of your macaron. Pipe ganache filling onto the bottom pieces and gently press/rotate the top into place.
- Place in refrigerator and leave for 24 hours before eating.