Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Macaron Infiniment Cafe

I always think of macarons as little jewels of the cookie world. They’re a delicate, complicated cookie that’s a bit fiddly to make but so very pretty. I had made them exactly once before. After reading my review copy of the new Pierre Herme Macaron, I was inspired to try again. At the beginning of the book, there’s a story about how macarons were made at Lenotre pastry shop in Paris in 1976 when Pierre Herme worked there. Two vanilla shells were pressed together with no filling. The shells were baked on paper-lined baking sheets, and after baking a small amount of water was run under the paper to slightly moisten each shell bottom. That’s what made them stick together as a sandwich cookie. But, the most shocking part of making these early macarons was that they were baked on a hearth, and the baking sheets had to be placed in such a way to control the heat. Herme eventually moved on and perfected his own technique for making macarons including crafting inventive flavor combinations. This new book includes reinterpreted recipes from Herme’s early career as well as more recent flavors. Each recipe has its own instructions, and there’s also a separate kitchen guide for the basic steps involved that are the same for all macarons. For the most part, the shells are always made the same way but for many, different food coloring is added. The fillings, however, are all delightfully unique. For instance, for the Macaron Infiniment Mandarine, a mandarin cream is made with an orange and lemon curd mixed with melted cocoa butter. Chopped bits of candied orange are nestled into that mandarin cream inside each macaron. The Macaron Creme Brulee involves a vanilla ganache with salted-butter caramel shards, and the shells are vanilla on one side and coffee-caramel on the other. There are fillings with green tea cream and black sesame crunch, mint cream with sugared peas, strawberry compote and wasabi cream, lovage cream with green apples, and many more. I kept making mental notes of all the buttercream and ganache flavors I want to try. For my first attempt from the book, I went with the Infiniment Cafe because the shells have coffee flavor from extract and no food coloring, and the filling is a white chocolate-coffee ganache. 

Each recipe includes “liquefied” egg whites which are egg whites left to age in the refrigerator for five days or a week. The whites were placed in a bowl, the bowl was covered with plastic wrap, holes were poked in the plastic with a knife, and the bowl was refrigerated. The next step is to prepare the baking sheets. Circles were drawn on a piece of parchment paper. A second sheet of parchment was set on top of that template. When ready, the cookie disks were piped to the size of the circles. Then, the template piece was pulled from below and reused with new parchment on top for each baking sheet. Ground almonds and confectioner’s sugar were sifted together, and half the egg whites with added coffee extract were added to the ground almond mixture. The other half of the egg whites were whisked in a stand mixer while sugar syrup was brought to temperature in a small saucepan. The syrup was slowly streamed into the mixer while running to create the meringue. The meringue was folded into the ground almond mixture, and the batter was ready for piping. A piping pro I am not, and therefore my cookies were not all perfectly the exact same size. But, they were close. They were to be baked at 350 degrees F in a convection oven which I thought seemed a little hot for macarons. Also, I'm still getting to know my new oven and the convection bake option. Some of mine browned a bit, and I turned the heat down for the next pans that went into the oven. Next, the coffee ganache was made. White chocolate was melted, cream was steeped with ground coffee beans and strained, and the two were combined. The ganache was to chill for six hours before using. After leaving it to chill overnight, it still seemed very runny. I whisked it to thicken the consistency before filling the macarons. 

I felt like I had better success with these macarons that I did that first time just over five years ago. It almost seemed too easy. All of the little cookies had feet just as they should, and none of them stuck to the parchment or broke when I removed them from the baking sheets. The coffee flavor, the crunchy surfaces giving way to chewy middles, and that white chocolate-coffee ganache combined for dreamy cookies. I’m definitely less afraid of making macarons now and look forward to many more flavor combinations.

Macaron Infiniment Cafe
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from Pierre Herme Macaron.
Infiniment cafe is the expression of my work with coffee with Hippolyte Courty, founder of l’Arbre a Cafe in Paris. The Iapar rouge du Bresil coffee is both potent and soft, with aromatic notes of chocolate, cinnamon, spice, and a sharp touch of eucalyptus. It’s an exceptional coffee! 


3 cups (300 g) confectioners’ sugar 
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (300 g) ground almonds 
2 tablespoons (30 g) coffee extract, preferably Trablit 
7 large (220 g) “liquefied” egg whites, divided (separate eggs, place whites in a bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, poke holes in plastic with a knife, refrigerate for five days)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (75 g) still mineral water 
1 1/2 cups (300 g) superfine granulated sugar 

PREPARE THE COFFEE MACARON SHELLS. The day before, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and almonds. Combine the coffee extract with half of the “liquefied” egg whites. Pour this into the confectioners’ sugar–almond mixture without mixing. Add the remaining “liquefied” egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk. In a saucepan, boil the mineral water and granulated sugar to 244°F. (118°C). As soon as the syrup reaches 239°F (115°C), begin beating the egg whites on high speed. When the syrup reaches 244°F (118°C), reduce the mixer speed to medium-high and pour the syrup in a steady stream down the inside edge of the bowl into the beaten egg whites. Beat the meringue until it cools to 122°F (50°C). Fold it with a silicone spatula into the confectioners’ sugar–almond mixture until the mixture loses volume. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain #11, ½-inch (11-mm to 12-mm) pastry tip. 

15 3/4 ounces (450 g) Valrhona Ivoire 35% white chocolate 
1/2 cup (30 g) Iapar rouge du Bresil coffee beans, preferably from l’Arbre a Cafe 
2 1/4 cups (520 g) light whipping cream (32%–35% fat) 

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Pipe disks about 1 1/2 inches (3.5 cm) in diameter and ¾ inch (2 cm) apart on the lined baking sheets. Rap the baking sheets on a work surface covered with a clean kitchen towel to gently smooth out the disks. Set aside for at least 30 minutes at room temperature to allow a skin to form. Preheat a convection oven to 350°F (180°C). Place the baking sheets in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes, quickly opening and closing the oven door twice during baking to release moisture. Remove the shells from the oven and slide them still on the parchment paper onto a work surface. 

Chop the white chocolate using a serrated knife then melt it to between 113°F (45°C) and 122°F (50°C) set over a bain-marie or in a microwave. Grind the coffee beans. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Add the ground coffee and stir. Cover and let infuse for 3 minutes. Strain the hot cream through a fine-mesh sieve then pour it in thirds into the melted white chocolate, stirring after each addition starting in the center then in increasingly wider concentric circles toward the sides of the bowl. Pour the ganache into a baking dish. Cover it by gently pressing plastic wrap onto its surface. Refrigerate for 6 hours, just until the ganache has developed a creamy consistency. Transfer the ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a plain #11, ½-inch (11-mm to 12-mm) pastry tip. 

Turn half of the shells over with the flat sides up onto a new piece of parchment paper. Fill them with the ganache. Close them with the rest of the shells, pressing down lightly. Refrigerate the macarons for 24 hours. Remove them from the refrigerator 2 hours before eating them. 

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  1. Hi Lisa:)
    My luck with Macarons is simply terrible. For the life of me they just never come out right. I haven't tried again since my biggest flop back in the late 90s, lol...

    Yours on the other hand look delectably good. That's interesting about keeping the egg whites in the fridge for 5 days. I didn't think they could last that long unless they were frozen. Never the less, your cookies look oh so tasty.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Lisa...

  2. Gorgeous flavour combination and beautiful macarons!



  3. gorgeous! i've made macarons exactly zero times, but i will one day. and white chocolate will be involved. :)

  4. The perfect macaron is elusive indeed, but it looks like you've nailed it! They look totally delicious, and that ganache sounds amazing :)

  5. Just fabulous Lisa! I haven't made macs in ages! Your beautiful post has me longing to get those egg whites aging!

  6. I've never attempted making macarons. These look beautiful & so delicious!

  7. It was probably about 5 years ago when I made my one and only macarons, too. They actually worked, but the photos were awful. I need to take a cue from you and give them another try! Your flavor combo sounds lovely!!!

  8. I have trouble with these baking them in an oven; there's no way I'd attempt them on a hearth. You are a very talented baker and your macarons are incredible - they look absolutely perfect xx

  9. Your macarons are absolutely wonderful !

    Have a nice day


  10. I'm dying.... love the combination of flavors! love macarons! I'd love to try your coffee version

  11. These look so good, fiddly to make but so worth it!

  12. I wouldn't mind having a few of these lovelies right now! Yummy ♥

  13. Your macarons are so professional looking. I have never tried making them but have had some memorable ones in France, of course, and Germany.

  14. Wow, these look excellent! I've never made macarons, but Mrs KR has. Have to tell her about this method -- sounds so ingenious.

  15. Lisa, may I ask what type of sifter you use to sift the almond sugar mixture? That step kills me, it's what always gives me trouble! I might be using too fine a sieve, I guess.... it is so frustrating! it takes forever and I lose a lot of the stuff that simply clogs the sifter and refuses to go through... I was hoping to try again soon... Also, what do you mean by pouring the syrup in the inside edge of the bowl? Do you pour in the center right by the beaters?

    1. Sally, I'm not sure of the size of the holes in my sifter. That step does take a little time to work everything through. Do you buy almond meal or make your own? I've found store-bought almond meal is finer than I can grind it myself.
      For the syrup, you want to aim just between the edge of the whisk attachment and the inside of the bowl. The goal is to not hit the whisk with the syrup because it will fling it around, and the syrup will crystallize during the flinging. Hope you do make them again!

    2. If I get really brave I might make it this weekend... I would love to surprise Phil on Valentine's day with some... will let you know! Thanks for your help!

  16. Hi Lisa, these are a work of art, so beautiful. Thanks for all the great tips.


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