last time and CT picked chocolate macaroons from Unwrapped. Aaaaah, macaroons! Fiddly, faffy food is not my forte (alliteration might be). This was going to be a real challenge for me and I knew I had to put some serious time aside for it. My mother was having her somewhat delayed Christmas dinner which is always a wondrous affair of Goose (mock goose for me) and the best Christmas pudding ever. So, I thought perhaps these would be just the thing to show off and impress everyone after dinner - hummmm.
Thirdly, I tried really hard to follow the recipe and instructions for this, but still came out with macaroons that were unevenly sized and looked nothing like the elegant macaroons I keep seeing on everyone else's blogs. Fourthly, this was the first time I'd tried using the piping bag that CT gave me for Christmas. Well, I knew there was a reason I had been putting this off and this was duly confirmed; I got more of the mixture over myself, the outside of the bag and the worktop than I did inside the actual bag. I found it fiddly, faffy and frustrating AND I broke the bag.
Fifthly, the ganache split, grrrr - why didn't I follow Marc Demarquette's recipe which had worked so well in the lemon balm ganache I made last year?
- Covered two baking sheets with baking paper.
- Hunted around for my new and yet unused piping bag - had no idea where I'd put it. Recipe stated a 2 cm nozzle, but I didn't have one of those so made do with the biggest one I had.
- Whizzed 8oz icing sugar in the coffee grinder to get the lumps out then sifted this into a bowl with 4 1/2 oz ground almonds and 1 oz cocoa.
- Decided I couldn't be bothered to get my electric beaters out, so spent an inordinate amount of time whisking 4 duck egg whites until nearly stiff.
- Sifted in a further 1 oz of de-lumped icing sugar and whisked again until stiff and glossy.
- Tried to gently fold in the rest of the icing sugar mixture, but didn't really understand how this could be done gently.
- Left to rest for 10 mins - no idea why, but I was trying to follow the recipe.
- Stirred in 1/4 tsp vanilla extract - which was meant to deflate the mixture a little and stop the tops from cracking. Mine was already deflated and the tops cracked anyway!
- Things started to get really messy. The recipe instructed me to pour the mixture into the piping bag. What? I had no idea how you were meant to pour a mixture that wasn't pourable anyway into a bag that doesn't stand up or stay open. I spooned the mixture into the bag as best I could (which wasn't very successful).
- Piped the mixture onto the baking sheets in a swirling motion to form rounds (that were meant to be evenly sized - ha). I made 33 rounds, but am sure I could have made quite a few more if I hadn't spread so much of the mixture around the kitchen (who said piping was easy?)
- Used a tea strainer to dust cocoa over the tops.
- Baked first batch on top shelf at 220C for 1 minute then turned oven down to 180C and baked for further 9 mins.
- Removed macaroons immediately onto a rack to cool.
- Repeated the process with the 2nd baking sheet.
- Brought 90ml double cream to the boil.
- Poured over 100g chopped 85% dark chocolate (which was meant to melt it but never does in my experience).
- Placed the bowl over a pan of hot water to try and melt the chocolate.
- Added 1/2 tsp honey (deviation from the recipe) and 1 oz unsalted butter.
- Stirred together - at which point the mixture split (it always does when I try and do it this way).
- Panicking, I looked on the internet to find out what to do. Use electric beaters apparently and beat like mad. So I got out the beaters I hadn't wanted to use and beat like mad. It made no difference. So, I did what I normally do when this happens and beat in some icing sugar. I was later advised by the expert himself, Marc Demarquette, to add more hot cream. At this point I remembered that Kath had rescued hers by the same method, oh well, maybe next time!
- Tried to match up my weirdly shaped and sized macaroon shells into pairs.
- Spread the ganache thickly over one half with a palate knife and placed the other half on top.
- Packed into an air tight tin and hoped they would not become soggy by the morrow.
CT went off on a trip of free association and came up with the following: luxurious - decedent - our very own le manoir - hot stone massage & Jacuzzi (he may have been suffering from a theobromine overdose at this point) - rich - unctuous - not too sweet - combines well with the - don't want to rush - want to chew - chocolate hit (see what I mean?).
Despite everyone leaving the dinner table groaning and holding their bellies, most managed to enjoy a macaroon with coffee and those that didn't got to take one home with them. Luckily, CT was very well behaved and kept his opinions to himself!