I love making macarons. I’m still tinkering with ingredients and practising my macaronage (the specific technique by which you mix your batter) and have yet to master this tricky French cookie, but I think I get a little better with every attempt. My favourite thing about making them is coming up with new flavours to try. My husband suggested a chocolate chili vibe a few months ago and I recently realized it would be perfect for Valentine’s Day! I had been sitting on the idea because I wasn’t quite sure how to represent each flavour. I thought about cocoa cookies, spicy jelly filling, chocolate chili chai buttercream, using a fresh chili puree to flavour the cookie, and garnishing a vanilla cookie with cayenne powder or fresh chilies but I ultimately decided to keep it simple with a bright red, spicy, cayenne powder flavoured cookie and bitter, dark chocolate ganache filling. The result is a slightly sweet, seductively spicy, adult cookie.
I used Hisako Ogita’s basic macaron recipe from I Love Macarons and added 1 tsp cayenne powder to the dry ingredients and a whole lot of red gel food colouring to the wet ingredients before mixing. I garnished with cocoa powder after piping the cookies onto silicon baking mats. Bitter ganache is shockingly simple to make, here’s how I do it:
- 100 ml whippingcream
- 3½ oz unsweetened baking chocolate
- Finely chop the chocolate and place in medium bowl with a tea towel underneath to protect your countertop.
- Bring whipping cream to a soft boil in a small pot.
- Pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate and stir until the ganache is glossy.
- Cool to room temperature before spreading between cookies. Reheat using a double boiler if it becomes too cold to spread.
All photos by me.
After years of making macarons, and still needing more practice, I stick with it because I love creating new flavours. Macarons can be tricky and time consuming to make, but they can take almost any flavouring imaginable and still come out lovely and delicious every time. They are one of my favourite foods to endlessly tinker with.
Today I made macarons inspired by my favourite cookie: chocolate chip. Macarons can be made in nearly every flavour, but they don’t take large chucks well – flavouring must be in either liquid or powder form – so I made a standard almond/ vanilla flavour cookie and garnished with cacao nibs. To add more chocolate flavour, I filled the cookies with dark chocolate ganache.
The combination turned out unbelievably well! Neither flavour overpowers the other. The garnish is cute and does a good job of letting you know what flavours to expect. They even taste a little bit like chocolate chip cookies while still holding on to that unique macaron sweetness. I made the mistake of having friends over before I had time to assemble the cookies. I had to beg them to “only eat the ugly ones” as they ravenously drizzled the still-warm ganache over the cookie halves and pounded back a dozen of them.
To make these chocolate chip cookie flavoured macarons, use your favourite recipes for plain vanilla macarons and dark chocolate (bitter) ganache. I used the recipes for Basic Macaron Batter and Bitter Ganache Filling from Hisako Ogita’s I Love Macarons. I also added a few pieces of cacao nibs to the top of each cookie before drying and baking.
All photos by me.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be good at making macarons. I’ve been trying to learn how to make them well for almost exactly three years now and this is my first batch ever that weren’t too sticky or hollow in the middle. I’ve never had trouble with the pied (the pretty, bubbly bit) but I’m still confused about how to macaronnage properly and I’m lucky if I get a handful of cookies to come out perfectly round. Macaron recipes appear deceivingly simple with only five ingredients that come together quite quickly but there are a lot of opportunities for mistake that make these cute little cookies difficult to master.
The best part about making macarons, and the reason I keep trying, is the literally uncountable number of flavour, colour, garnish and filling combinations you can make. This time I tried out an idea for smoky black tea macarons with orange marmalade filling.
Using the macaron recipe from I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita and following her flavouring tips, I added 1 tsp of smoked lapsang souchong star loose leaf tea, that I first crushed to a finely ground powder with my fingertips, to the dry ingredients before mixing them into the meringue. I decided not to colour the cookies with any food colouring. Then, because I’m not a huge fan of making or eating traditional buttercream filling, I chose to just fill the macarons with orange marmalade. The end result is a naturally peach coloured nutty, smoky, sweet citrus cookie perfect for a grown up tea party.
All photos by me.