A Happy New Year to you all! In the interest of starting anew and cleaning house, may I present my gift to you:
Mocha hazelnut macarons!
Getting onto my soapbox (entirely held up by a hefty dose of cold meds - thank you Sudafed), I must proclaim: I MADE MACARONS. AND THEY WERE TASTY. AND THEY HAD FEET. *ahem*
So it turns out that there are certain perks to working 7 out of every 14 days, and one of them is that during the week, when I have days off, there's not much to do but bake. Oh darn. So thus began my second attempt at macarons. You see, I attempted them once, but... umm... sorta didn't really know what the heck I was doing. At all. I didn't sift, I tried a more complicated meringue method, they didn't dry completely, I piped them too large, didn't bake them long enough, and ended up tossing all of the failed little meringues.
These little gems have been hanging about my blog draft list, just waiting for me to have the time to unveil them. I wanted to make it something special, or my post especially witty (ha!). Instead, I find myself just wistfully wishing I had some left. These suckers are TASTY. Now, that's partially because I'm a sugar addict, but it's also because I love the combination of coffee and chocolate. Add in some hazelnut, and I'm a happy girl. Add in the ability to be OCD about piping each of these into perfect 1 1/2" mounds in little rows, and I'm freaking ecstatic.
Mocha Hazelnut Macarons (adapted from Tartelette and Aran)
For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (about 3), aged 24 hrs
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
55 gr hazelnut meal
55 gr almond meal
2 tsp espresso powder
Sift together the nut meals, powdered sugar, and espresso powder. Twice if you're feeling like you need the insurance (which is what I do). In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites, adding sugar once they begin getting foamy. Continue whipping until you have a stiff, glossy meringue. Do not overwhip, or the meringue will dry out and become dull. Add the nut meal mixture to the meringue (sometimes I add the meringue to the nut meal, but that's harder to fold in), and begin folding the two together. Begin briskly, slowing down once everything is nearly incorporated. Do not overmix, or you will deflate the batter. It should flow "like magma" when finished. Pipe 1 1/2" mounds (possibly using a template) onto parchment lined baking sheets using a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. If they don't flatten on their own, wet a fingertip and pat down any "beaks" that form during piping. Allow to sit out for 30 minutes, or until the tops are no longer sticky when you lightly touch them with your fingertip. Bake at 300F for 12-14 minutes, longer if you pipe larger circles than 1 1/2". Let cool, and transfer shells to a cooling rack. If they stick, they probably were not baked long enough, so just add a couple minutes of bake time to the next batch. Pour a small amount of water underneath the parchment paper of stuck shells, let sit for a minute or two, then peel off any stubborn ones. Store unfilled cookies in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer. To assemble, pipe or dollop about a tablespoon of ganache on one cookie and top with another of similar shape and size.
For the ganache:
80 gr heavy cream
160 gr dark chocolate
Finely chop the dark chocolate. Heat the heavy cream until it just bubbles around the edges of the pan, and then pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute or two, then stir until smooth.