My macarons were not lovely today. I blame those weirdos I live with.
Lots of kids run their mouths during the day. My people don't even sleep in silence. Someone's always protesting the essential unfairness of the universe. Which is why it was unsurprising to be woken up in the middle of the night by footsteps and muttering upstairs.
You know the feeling of going from sound asleep to sprinting up the steps in five seconds? And the adrenaline rush that comes from knowing that you have about a ten second window before the entire house is awake?
"Go back to sleep. You're having a bad dream," I said.
"Turn around and go back to bed." I ordered.
"What? I'm not having a nightmare. I'm just trying to find the bathroom."
Okay, then. He's lived here for 11 years, i.e. all the years he's been on this earth. Lost in the five feet between his bedroom and the bathroom. I am so tired right now.
This is a long way of getting to my point. Which is, my macarons were not so gorgeous today.
Lopsided, all sunken on one side, with half-centimeter feet on the other, as I knew they'd be from the moment I cracked the first egg. The whites were water-thin, gushing out of the shells. The batter would be too wet, and anything I did to fix it would be just tinkering on the margins.
I have read so many recipes where the writer says, "I use fresh whites all the time, with no problem." Or, "I always age mine, and my macarons fail when I don't." Yes, if your recipe is designed for aged eggs, your results will be unreliable with fresh ones. And vice versa.
My recipe is designed for aged whites, which are slightly dryer. But after last night's hijinks, I was just too zonked to listen to that voice in my head saying, "Put those whites back in the fridge and made the macs tomorrow." So my spur-of-the-moment macs are less than picture-perfect. Whaddayagonnado!
The taste, however, is perfect. Identifiably Earl Grey, but not over the top. I love the pale blue tint, although my mother informs me that blue foods are inherently vile. And the rich milk chocolate is ideal against the bergamot tang of the tea. So, I'll share the recipe with you today, and hope to make a lovelier batch with aged whites and post the photos soon.
Earl Grey Macaron Shells
125g almonds or almond meal
125g confectioners sugar
100g aged egg white, divided
1 teaspoon Earl Grey tea leaves
1/2 teaspoon powdered egg whites, optional
125g granulated sugar, divided
3 drops blue gel food coloring, optional
Milk Chocolate Ganache Filling
55g milk chocolate, chopped fine
165g heavy cream
- Run the almond, confectioners sugar and tea leaves through a food processor or spice grinder. Pass through a fine sieve, then regrind any chunks. Mix with 50g of the egg white, and set aside.
- Add remaining egg whites, optional powdered whites, and fifteen grams of granulated sugar. Beat on low speed with the whisk attachment until powder is combined and mixture looks frothy, about two minutes. Kick the mixer up to medium high, and let it go until you achieve stiff peaks, roughly five minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup, microwave the water and remaining sugar until has been at full boil for thirty seconds. In my microwave, this takes two minutes, but machines vary. Pour the sugar syrup into the stiff whites in several additions, stopping to beat after each. Once incorporated, let the machine run for several minutes more, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Add in the optional food coloring and beat for another minute.
- With a spatula, fold the almond mixture into the eggs. Don't worry too much about this part; cooking the egg whites with the syrup makes them much more stable than the traditional French method. Just keep folding until it falls off the spatula in thick ribbons.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, then pipe two-inch circles onto a baking sheet lined with Silpat or baking parchment. Grab the corners and bang the hell out of the pan on the counter. Forget about gentle tapping - give it several good whacks, rotate 90˚, then repeat. Rest macarons for about 40 minutes, until the tops feel completely dry to the touch.
- While macarons are drying, microwave the cream just until it starts to bubble, then stir in the chocolate. Refrigerate for half an hour, stirring every ten minutes until it firms to a pipable consistency.
- Bake macaron shells in a preheated 280˚ convection oven for approximately 15 minutes. Rest on the baking sheet for ten minutes before matching up halves for sandwiching.
- Pipe a generous teaspoon of ganache on half the shells, and carefully sandwich together. Cover and leave at room temperature for several hours to ripen. Then store in the fridge or freezer.