Daring Bakers …Hazlenut Macaroons with Spicy Chocolate Ganache and Strawberry or "Vampire Kiss"

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
OR I attempted this months Daring Baker Challenge three times. I am not a macaroon novice, and have made them a few times before. I’m not an expert either, but this recipe and technique just wasn’t for me. The following is just my experience and is meant to be constructive and analytical. The first go round I grounded my own almonds and added dried hibiscus for color and flavor. Disaster. The second go round I used store purchased hazelnut meal, as almond meal couldn’t be found in several stores, and no flavor ingredient, just color. As you see from the first picture , they didn’t turn out and really stuck to the parchment. I found the baking time was not sufficient and to low at first, then to high. I followed the recipe and instructions to a tee. I have used parchment several times when baking macaroons and never had issues. The third time I decided to use my tried and true recipe from the Macaroon Queen , Tartelette ,herself. I figure this is fair because I made the actual challenge recipe twice before with disastrous results. Success. Not perfect, but pretty good. I compared the ratios and technique.
Helen’s calls for drying for 1 hour, which I feel is essential. That’s how I was taught at my classed in the French Pastry School as well. I noticed I kept getting tips when piping, but reading Helen’s articles, that can be resolved with a bit more folding.I was to cautious and didn’t want to over fold. The recipe I used from Desserts Magazine tutorial by Tartelette.It is now only available by subscription (Issue #2). However this recipe from Helen is basically the same, except for the flavorings. Here is a PDF of the whole tutorial someone made public.

Notice the difference in a comparison Chart of both recipes:

Daring Bakers/ Claudia Fleming’s
5 egg whites
Granulated Sugar (2 tbsp/25 g)
Confectioners Sugar (2 .25 cups/225 g)
Almond Flour/meal (2 cups/190 g)

Helen’s ( Tartelette) Recipe
3 egg whites (100 g)
Granulated Sugar ( 50 g)
Confectioners Sugar (200 g)
Almond Flour/meal (110 g)

Notice the significant difference in ratios and technique. I really don’t think Claudia Flemming’s technique works for most ovens as its to tricky with the different stages and temps. As this was my first time using dry powdered food colors , I was timid, Next time I will use more. Up to 1 tablespoon is recommended.

As this week, I am participating in the Great Hallow Tweet, Halloween Blog Hop, I was attempting a Vampire like theme. See side link to see others who are participating.

I sprinkled some black sanding sugar. I should have been more aggressive with my dry food color.

I was so happy to see feet!

A ganache infused with a Thai Chili and Cinnamon was piped onto the shells.

Then some Strawberry Jam……

My little Vampire kisses.

Love at first bite.

Be sure to visit the other Daring Bakers. Thank you Ami for giving us a challenge we all have been dying for. While the given recipe didn’t work for me, it was a great challenge to compare. I really feel weights/metric make a big difference in the art of pastry. Its more exact and can really alter the results.I notice the Macaroons taste even better after storing in the fridge for a few days and allowing to come to room temperature. The flavors really meld .

Here is the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe:

Recipe Source: I’ve tried many, many recipes, and have discovered that my favorite macaroon recipe comes from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern. They have given me the most consistent results and so, for everyone’s delectation, I present to you an adaptation of Ms. Fleming’s recipe
Preparation time: Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature, the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.
Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.
Equipment required:• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment• Rubber spatula• Baking sheets• Parchment paper or nonstick liners• Pastry bag (can be disposable)• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip• Sifter or sieve• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off• Oven• Cooling rack• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)
IngredientsConfectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: 10 dozen. Ami’s note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.