A while back, I was on a roll with Pierre Herme’s sables. I was so entrenched in those recipes that for a while I thought I had found a new defining moment for myself. You’ve probably noticed that I am currently in the mood for macarons and what better way to merge the two obsessions than to experiment with the Macaron Master’s recipes?
Pierre Herme’s macarons have to be the most celebrated in the pastry world. My first encounter with the Macaron was at Laduree when I was in Paris for the first time almost 10 years ago. At that time, I was staying at a hotel at Champs Elysees and I was ignorant about Laduree’s fame. I ventured in one Sunday morning because it was a pretty restaurant/ cafe and I wanted to have breakfast. I recall being overwhelmed by the queue and the crowd hovering over the pastry counter. It was then that I spotted these colourful, gem-like pastries. I joined the queue and bought a gift box of macarons which I brought back to the office as souvenirs.
When I returned to Paris again 2 years ago, I could have gone to Pierre Herme’s Patisserie, but strangely, I didn’t feel compelled to do so. Perhaps it was because I had already seen his creations in Tokyo or perhaps I had other higher priorities like shopping for cookware at E.Dehillerin…
Whatever it is, it has not stopped me from lusting after his coveted cookbook Macarons. Available only in French now, I am waiting fervently for the English translation. In the mean time, I have tried to search for others who may have baked from the book. 2 recipes stood out, one is a Ketchup Macaron recipe which is too unorthodox for me. The other is this Macaron au Chocolate Amer which incorporates melted 100% Chocolate. Chocolate has the infamous reputation of destabilising meringue and up till now, I have never quite come across any recipe that calls for the use of melted chocolate in a macaron biscuit or even a chocolate chiffon ( I have only come across one recipe). Cocoa powder is most commonly used and a good quality cocoa powder like Valrhona will give a deep rich chocolate hue to the pastry.
I did not succeed during my first attempt because I had been too confident and had gone ahead to bake it at 155C like I have done before. The shell of the macaron, though looked smooth and lovely in the oven turned out to be quite soft. Upon cooling, this immediately turned all puny and wrinkled. Luckily, with macarons, I have cultivated the habit of piping a few macarons on 2 small sheets for test baking. This allows me to check for proper drying which can be reflected in the proper development of the macaron feet.
I reverted back to the instructions in the recipe which called for baking the macarons at 180C with fan mode.
This time round, the macarons turned out well. The shell is not as crisp as the last 2 recipes but slowly crystalised over time to yield a very delicate thin shell with a sponge-like chewy center- most fascinating.
The beauty of this recipe is that the 100% Cocoa is so bitter, it actually neutralizes the sweetness of the meringue quite effectively.
Recipe : (from here)
150g Almond Meal
150g Icing Sugar
55g Egg White A
2g Red colouring
150g Castor Sugar
2.5 tbsp Water
55g Egg White
60g 100% Dark Chocolate
180g 70% Dark Chocolate
20g 100% Dark Chocolate
70g Butter (room temperature)
To make the shells