Well, I’m not quite sure what’s going on because here am I wanting to get busy with some overdue protein recipes from my long long LONG list … but I keep having to make macarons.
I can’t explain the periodic obsession for these little pastries that takes hold of some members of my family.
Out. Of. The. Blue.
So, to keep the peace, I’m going to regale them and confuse them, over time, with different versions of a CCM Macaron … with chocolate, chilli, and mango.
Let’s call it the CCM Macaron Lexicon. One of them will be the signature CCM Macaron.
The possibilities for chocolate, chilli, and mango to combine in a sweet pastry are huge, folks. Enormous. So, a bit of play is in order.
First up, the lazy gal version. I very cleverly call it … Version One. Wow, that effort knocked around a few neurons, didn’t it? 😉
A classic macaron shell, delicately coloured and sparsely speckled with chilli flakes (mostly because the macaron crazy family are afraid of chilli. Who are these people?). Make sure you use good quality chilli flakes and that the flakes are small and even.
The filling is a creamy dark chocolate ganache with a hint of cayenne pepper (because I like mean surprises for nagging macaron crazy family members. Yes, I’m ever so slightly evil 😛 ) and a dollop of sweet and luscious homemade mango jam (because I’m as magnanimous as I am evil).
You can make the mango jam and ganache ahead of time. The jam recipe can easily be scaled up and made in a large batch in summer. It’s simple but really sublime.
I’d like to say that I was going for a subtle colour for the shells. But I’m no liar so here’s the deal. I’ve played about with a different brand of food colouring and have found it somewhat wanting in the colour intensity department. I’m going back to my tried and tested Française one as a little goes a long way.
This isn’t the signature CCM Macaron, but it’s truly lovely … or in my father’s words, it’s beeeeaaaauuuuuuuutiful!
I obviously need to add more chilli next time, right??? LOL
CCM Macarons: Version One
Makes 30 – 40 macarons
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
150 grams almond meal
150 grams icing sugar
55 grams egg white
food colouring (I used yellow with a dash of orange)
135 grams sugar
40 grams water
55 grams egg white
pinch cream of tartar
pinch of salt
200 grams mango flesh, finely chopped
50 grams sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
150 grams couverture or good quality eating chocolate – min. 65% cacao solids
150 grams pure cream (35% fat)
pinch sea salt
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (to taste)
30 grams butter, cubed and at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line 2 – 3 large baking sheets with silpat sheets or baking paper. Set aside.
Place the almond meal, icing sugar, and chilli flakes into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is very fine and silky in texture. You can test it between two fingers. I do this before sifting the mixture, but if you prefer, just sift the almond meal and icing sugar together. You will still see small flecks of chilli flakes. Once done, sift the mixture in to a large mixing bowl. Mix together the 55 grams of egg white and the food colouring. Add the egg white to the almond meal mixture and mix well with a spatula or pastry scraper until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.
Place the remaining 55 grams of egg white, cream of tartar, and salt into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and start whisking at low to medium speed. Place the water into a saucepan and add the sugar. Dissolve the sugar, in the water, over a low heat. Bring to the boil and cook until the sugar reaches 118°C. By this stage the egg whites should have reached a soft peak stage. Continue whisking at medium speed as you pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Keep whisking until the bowl cools to just warm. I usually whisk the meringue for about 10 minutes or so and turn up the speed for a minute or two at the end. The meringue should be fairly stiff. When you lift the whisk, there should be a solid stiff clump on the whisk. It should be able to look you in the eye without flinching.
Scrape a small amount of the meringue into the bowl with the almond mixture and work it into the mixture to lighten it, using a spatula or pastry scraper. I prefer the scraper. Scrape the remaining meringue into the bowl and fold it into the almond mixture, flipping it over on to itself, and turning the bowl with each fold. Make sure to scrape down the bowl to make sure the mixture is homogenous, and there are no streaks of meringue or almonds. Continue folding until the macaronage is at the stage where a little mixture, lifted, will fall back into itself slowly (i.e. the magma/lava stage everyone goes on about). Be careful not to overmix the macaronage.
Fit a large piping bag with a plain tip and pipe small mounds on to the baking sheets. Rap the baking sheets hard on to the bench to expel any air bubbles. Rap it again, harder, if you’re not sure. You can pop them straight into the oven or leave until the mixture forms a light crust. It’s up to you. Won’t matter either way. Bake for about 15 – 16 minutes. Depending on your oven, they may need a minute or so more or less.
Remove the macaron shells from the oven and set aside to cool. Remove from the baking sheets and pair up shells of the same size.
Place the mango and sugar into a saucepan, mix together, cover, and let sit for about 30 minutes. This will allow the sugar to extract the mango juice a little. Place over a low to medium heat until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to simmer. Use a potato masher to gently mash the mango pieces. Cook until the jam starts to set. Test by placing a small amount of jam on to a chilled plate. It should gel very quickly. Alternatively, you can run a finger through the jam on the plate and the mark should remain. When ready, remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and stir.
Pour the jam into a sterilised jar and seal. Store the sealed jam in the pantry. Once opened, it should be stored in the refrigerator. This recipe is easily scaled up to make a large batch.
Chop the couverture or eating chocolate into small, even pieces and place into a heatproof bowl. Place the cream into a saucepan over a low heat. Bring to simmering point and pour evenly over the chocolate. Use a spoon or whisk to gently stir from the centre of the bowl until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth. While still warm, add the salt, cayenne, and the butter, and stir until the ganache is smooth and glossy. Cover and let set to a piping consistency at room temperature, or place in the refrigerator until it reaches a piping consistency.
You can assemble these macarons in a number of different ways. You can pipe a small amount of the mango jam into the centre of half of the shells and pipe the ganache around the jam. Alternatively, pipe some ganache on to half of the shells and then pipe or dollop a small amount of jam in to the centre of the ganache. Top with the matching shells and gently twist to press the shells together.
Store the macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen. Bring to room temperature to serve.