Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macarons

Macarons make me think of three things.  Decadence, holidays and Blair Waldorf.

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Macarons are luxurious little delicacies.  Often brightly coloured, usually exotic flavour combinations and almost always boxed to perfection.  The very act of going in to a Ladurée shop and being hit by the overwhelming scent of sweetness, then choosing your box and selecting a bounty of treats, is so extravagant.  Even the little bag they give you to carry away the little box is so over the top wonderful!  Yes, they are a little pricey but it’s not something I do every day.

Which is why they remind me of holidays.  No trip to London is complete without a stop at the Harrods branch of Ladurée, although last time I tried Pierre Herme instead.  The macarons were divine it’s just the experience, a concession within Selfridges, isn’t quite as glamourous.

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Glamour being an essential part of the perfect macaron, which is why, no doubt, they are Blair Waldorf’s , of Gossip Girl fame, favourite.  Sure she’s kinda mean, and bitchy, but she had the best clothes and even dated Dan Humphrey, she had it all!  Her favourite were pistachio, which is a excellent choice.  I enjoy salted caramel and rose flavours.

Despite all that, these macarons are keeping it real and down to earth in the flavour department.  The name, and the method, and the terminology may be fancy but chocolate and peanut butter is simple and delicious.  My favourite EVER flavour combination.  So making these macarons was a total no-braner!

They are a little tricky but if you follow the steps and practice a few times you should be good to go.  Also, even if they don’t look perfect they still taste super.

When the eggs get to this stage start adding in the caster sugar.

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This is when you can hold the bowl over your head!  Or just check that it holds at peak with your whisk.

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Time to start folding.  Get everything set up before you start.

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First half folded in.  A large metal spoon, or a spatula works best.

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All combined.  The mix should be a uniform colour.

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My frosting tip!  Use a tall glass to hold your piping bag open whilst you fill it, far less messy than the alternative.

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Resting for half an hour.

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Baked!!  I just think they are so cute.  The sense of achievement you get when you see that little foot forming in the oven is immense.

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I mean…just yum!

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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macarons

adapted from Simmer and Boyle

175g icing sugar

95g ground almonds

20g cocoa powder

110g egg whites (about 3 eggs) at room temperature

37g caster sugar

For the filling:

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup double cream

1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted

 

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.  Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper and set aside.

If you have  food processor, do this step, if not skip to the next paragraph.  Add the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder into the bowl of the processor and blitz for a couple of minutes until fully combined and very fine.  Remove and pass through a sieve.

Sift together the icing sugar, ground almond and cocoa powder.  There will be some bigger bits of ground almond but unless you’re trying to recreate chop bought perfection you won’t even notice the difference.  I didn’t process mine and they look pretty smooth.

Before you start beating the egg whites ensure your down and beaters are perfectly clean and that there are no traces of oil anywhere as this will stop the eggs from becoming stiff.  To be sure you can run the cut side of a lemon over the bowl.

Beat the egg whites on a medium-high speed for a couple of minutes until they are foamy.  Lower the speed slightly and gradually start adding the caster sugar.   Once its all in turn the speed back up and beat until glossy and firm.  You know the old trick, turn that bowl upside down over your head.  If you’ve got egg white all over you….they weren’t ready!

Fold half of the almond mixture into the whites.  Once this is incorporated add the second half.   Try to be gentle but sure of yourself so you are being efficient with each fold of the mixture.  You want the almond mixture to the fully combined and the mixture to all be the same colour.

Transfer the mix in to a piping back with a plain piping attachment about 1cm diameter, or just cut the end off your bag to give roughly a 1cm hole.

Pipe discs of mixture, 3cm in diameter, leaving about 3cm between each.  One piped lift the track and firmly hit each side down on the worktop.  This will remove any air bubbles.  Leave the macarons for 45 minutes before baking.  This will cause a slight skin to form on the top which create the little foot when they bake.

Place the trays in to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  To test in the are ready wiggle one of the tops, if it moves from side to side leave it for another couple of minutes, if it stands firm, they’re done.

Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

To make the filling beat together all of the ingredients until you have a light, smooth frosting.  Add more icing sugar if it is too thin and more cream if it’s too thick.

When the macarons are cooled, pair them off by size.  Turn over all the bottom halves.  Pipe the peanut butter filling on to the base, about a teaspoons worth.  Sandwich together.

Store the maracons in the fridge.  They will keep for a good few days and actually taste better after about 2 days.  They taste so, so good straight from the fridge, good luck eating just one!

If you want to be fancy, decorate the edges with chocolate sprinkles.

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