Mocha Macarons with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache

I have been really blessed to be surrounded with a few close friends and family who share the same passion as I for food and baking. So when I asked my sister-in-law if she wanted to join me one Saturday morning to do a baking and photography shoot together, I wasn't surprised when she agreed! 

We decided to make macarons together, as neither of us had made them before - and we wanted the challenge. So while our husbands (who are brothers) relaxed on the couch on a cool Saturday morning, watching the NBA finals, we busied ourselves in the kitchen!

Mocha Macarons with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache

 

Basic French Macaron Recipe:

makes about 20-40 macaron shells (10-20 macarons, depending on the size)

1/2 cup (50g) almond meal 

3/4 cup (85g) icing sugar

2 egg whites (50g)

1 tablespoon caster sugar

+ 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa  & 2 tablespoons ground coffee

Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache:

Recipe by Natasha, from Butter Baking

200g milk chocolate, chopped finely

100ml double cream

25g unsalted butter, softened

50g Nutella

 

For the macaron shells...

1. Line a tray with baking paper. Prepare a piping bag with a medium-sized nozzle.

2. Sift the almond meal, icing sugar, cocoa and ground coffee in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites. We preferred to whisk the whites by hand, as there is a less chance of over-beating, but feel free to use an electric mixer. Once the whites start to froth up and become meringue-like, start to sprinkle in a little caster sugar. This helps to stabilise the whites so there is less of a risk of over-whipping. Keep whisking until firm peaks are formed.

4. Once the whites are whipped, sprinkle half the dry ingredients over the top. Start folding the dry ingredients in carefully. Once it is all incorporated, add the egg-white mixture to the remaining dry ingredients and fold everything together. It may start to look a bit dry, but just keep folding and the mixture will come together and eventually will start to look smooth.

5. Pour the mixture into the piping bag and begin piping small (about 1-inch sized) round circles onto prepared trays, allowing some room for spreading. Tap the trays on the bench a couple of times to remove any air bubbles. 

6. Allow macarons to rest at room temperature. We made ours on a cooler day so it took about 45 minutes to one hour to rest. You will know they are ready when you touch the tops of the macarons lightly, and nothing sticks to your finger. While they are resting, preheat oven to 130˚C.

7. Place macarons in oven and bake for about 18 minutes.

8. Once macaron shells are cooked, remove from oven and set aside to cool on the tray. Once completely cooled, separate the macaron shells from the baking paper carefully and flip them over.

 

For the Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache...

1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to the boil and pour it over the chocolate. Stir the ganache for about 2 minutes, until smooth and chocolate is melted into the cream.

2. Place ganache in the fridge to cool and firm up slightly.

3. Add the butter and Nutella to the ganache, and using an electric beater, mix together until light and fluffy.

4. Spoon ganache into piping bag and pipe onto the centre of half the macaron shells. Sandwich together with similar sized rounds. Enjoy!

 

A few things we learnt while making macarons for the first time:

1. Practice makes perfect, so don't be too disappointed if you don't get it perfect the first go, just keep trying! :)

2. Take your time. Read the recipe; don't hurry through the process. As you may be able to notice, the macarons we made aren't perfectly smooth, so next time we will sift the ingredients twice to hopefully get a smoother finish!

3. Have the right tools ready (i.e. candy thermometer, piping bag & nozzles, baking trays lined with baking paper).

4. Read about "macaron troubleshooting". There are plenty of websites out there with lots of handy tips to help you know where you can improve. Master the basics, then have fun experimenting with many flavour combinations!

 - A special thank you to my sister-in-law, Petra Salvatore, for her lovely photography.