The previous macaron post and recipe was at one extreme of the pendulum swing: complex, challenging and from one of the most hallowed bakeries (and chefs) around.
This time, I wanted to try the other end of the pendulum swing. Why? Well, I wanted to knock out a smaller batch, focused on crafting a special treat for my hubs for Valentine’s Day, but also with HOPEFULLY enough time left to be able to do a second batch in the same day.
Aggressive? YUP. But when have I decided to take the easy road, right?
Note: this recipe does have heat. I would expect that omitting the cayenne and/or spice would result in an equally tasty plain chocolate macaron. I just have not tested it that way. I am taking a basic chocolate mac recipe and several other variants out there about spicy chocolate macs, to craft something that is uniquely ME. I have a small crush on Mexico, the Maya and Aztec histories and well, macarons. So, why not take a stab at Xocolatl… the historically awesome spiced (and spicy) drinking chocolate that served as both a decadent post feast treat, a celebration of the Gods AND fuel to power an army? If heat, spice, smoke and chocolate are not tops on your list flavors, you might want to pass on this one. But if you do enjoy those… welcome. This one should be fun 🙂
Other note: there is not going to be a whole lot of technique talk in this one. If you need a refresher, head over HERE to my original post about making macarons.
Xocolatl Macarons (Spiced & Smokey Chili Chocolate Macarons) (yields approx 20 macarons)
- 100g super fine almond flour (from blanched almonds)
- 100g confectioners sugar
- 10g natural cocoa powder
- 75g room temp egg whites
- 1/4tsp cream of tartar
- 50g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 60-65g dark chocolate (keep around 60% cocoa)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon (depending on taste… start with the least and increase if you want more intensity)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne (same as above, if you like heat, up your cayenne… it is a back of the throat heat that hits at the end so be mindful of that! This also helps accent the cinnamon and brings that to the front which is nice.)
- pinch of smoked salt
- Place almond flour, cocoa and confectioner’s sugar in food processor. Pulse several times to combine. If your flour mix is coarse, continue to pulse to make finer.
- Run dry mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to sift out any larger particles. Depending on the fineness of your flour, you will end up with about 1tsp -1 tbsp of solids to be discarded.
- Place egg whites (should be at room temp) into a mixer bowl with whisk attachment. You can also use a hand mixer for this if you prefer, and it often whips the whites quicker!
- On medium, begin to whip eggs until they get foamy. Once at this point, add the cream of tartar and continue to mix on medium for 1 minute to combine.
- Increase speed to high and begin to whip whites to soft peaks.
- Once soft peaks have formed, add your granulated sugar in thirds AS you continue to whip the whites (adding all at once risks losing the air you’ve whipped into your whites!) Once all sugar is added, continue to whip at high speed until stiff peaks form. You should have a nice, glossy meringue that ‘stands up’ when you lift your mixer head(s) out of it. Be careful not to over whip, you risk breaking the whites which will not result in a good textured shell at all.
- Turn your whites out into your dry mixture, sprinkle your cayenne on top and FOLD the whites gently in. Remember you are tucking in the whites. It is an odd texture at first, but keep folding gently. Starting at 12 o’clock, bring your spatula around to 6pm along the walls of the bowl, then lift up and over the meringue. Give a quarter turn to the bowl with your non-spatula hand, and repeat. This process is the macronage. (oooh la la!)
- Continue to fold/mix until you arrive at the correct texture. Sometimes it is 40 strokes, sometimes 50… just be careful not to over mix. It is a delicate balance. You are looking for a ‘lava’ like texture, when you lift the spatula will flow slowly off of it. Some say when you can make a figure 8 with the ribbon off the spatula, your dough is perfect.
- Fill your piping bag (with 1/4″ tip), twist and pipe out your shells onto prepped baking sheet (with stencil underneath… unless you’re a boss and don’t need it! Yeah, I need it.)
- Take your full baking sheet/tray and tap down several times to release air bubbles trapped in the piped shells (air pockets mean broken shell tops… the air has to escape somehow and will crack the hard shell crust to do that… don’t miss this step!) Turn tray 180 degrees and tap again several times.
- Now, let piped shells rest for 30min-1hr (or longer if in more humid locations… humidity will totally mess with your macaron dreams…) Preheat oven to 275-300degrees (it doesn’t need to be exact, the key is to keep within that range. Over heating the delicate shells can also result in cracked shells as they cook too quickly and, well, crack. Don’t forget to pipe ALL your dough. letting it sit risks it hardening or falling. Pipe it all, folks.
- Once your shells have that ‘skin’ over the top (you can run your finger across the top without it sticking…) bake shells, one sheet at a time for a total of 16-18 minutes. I like to bake for 10 minutes then turn the sheet and bake again for 6-8 minutes. Checking again after 6. This is really about your oven, so you need to be attentive. I expected to need more time, but they were done quicker than I expected… I probably could have taken out a tad earlier! If you are wondering the same, you can check doneness by taking a shell and seeing if it easily releases from the tray/parchment. If it does, they are done! 🙂
- Remove first tray and bake second with same cadence.
- Allow first tray of shells to cool slightly, then gently remove shells from parchment and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. They should come off with barely any effort.
- Once all shells have cooled, you will chill them a bit before filling. Again, this is to help them get that awesome ‘crunch and chew’ that we love from a good macaron. Chill in fridge for a few hours. 30 minutes before you are ready to fill, make your ganache.
- Don’t forget to match your shells before filling so you have a nicely uniform macaron.
- You can pipe or spoon the ganache onto the bottom shell. I spoon these as you will waste a ton of ganache in that piping bag!
- Depending on your taste, you can dust the tops with a bit more cayenne and cocoa to finish.
- Take 1/4 cup heavy cream and place in microwave safe container (I use my pyrex measuring cup) and heat for 1 minute (if it starts almost boil over, it is done)
- Place your chocolate into a small bowl and then pour hot cream over top.
- Let sit for a minute or so then mix to combine.
- It will be very runny, so based on your choice of texture, you can thicken with more chocolate.
- Add spices and pinch of smoked salt and mix for a minute to fully combine. Taste and adjust spices according to your liking. Remember, the heat from the pepper will comes on a bit late so don’t rush to judgement and add too much!
If you, like me, love a good lesson in history as well as some mythology… head to WIKI for a little reading about the awesomeness of chocolate. A gift from the gods indeed!
Now, I did not spend a ton of time explaining the processes in this post. If you have questions, please let me know. What this project helped me realize is that with practice of these techniques and processes, knowledge of the tools and prep you should do at the outset of making your macarons, these lil nuggets of YUM come together quite quick.
I also learned that there IS a difference in the meringue you use. I definitely think that the macs I made with the Italian meringue had a better bite than the ones I made with just granulated sugar and cream of tartar. It is probably a matter of taste, but I liked the chew better. It also, however, is much more difficult to do properly at the same time TIME properly with your egg whites LOL.
And lastly, I took away the fact that the Bouchon base recipe is KILLER. This base was from a few different corners of the interwebs. While they both are DELICIOUS (don’t get me wrong, these are amazing…) I do find it interesting that there are ever so slight changes based on the slightest variations. That is probably why these can seem so daunting as a baking project. I do like the size of the batch from this recipe though, and may do some math nerding to tweak the Bouchon base to fit a more reasonable yield for our small household!
I actually WAS able to do 3 kitchen project on this day:
- Xocolātl Macarons
- Rose Cream Macarons
- Cured Egg Yolks
Yeah, it was a very productive day!
The mindfulness lesson?
- Showing you care about others comes from the base of you own self care.
2. That self care often requires practice and reflection.
3. That practice helps align your intent with your skills and results in motivation to do again.
In this case, my mindfulness practice in the kitchen today gave me self-care time and concentrative practice which calmed my mind, elevated my skills AND made two awesome macarons to be shared with my love. (Look for the other mac post soon, as well as how I handled those leftover yolks!)
I call that a good day in the kitchen.
Have any great flavor ideas for macarons? Let me know! I’m always up for a good challenge!