I am always intrigued by technique and how the simple action of folding ingredients together can completely change the texture and consistency of a product. Such is the case with meringue. The infamous macarons are usually nothing but egg whites with sugar and ground up nuts. But how do they get their tiny feet and the crunchy exterior with the moist interior? I was showing a friend of mine the macaron folding technique or “macaroner”, when it occurred to me that I should also show her how a similar meringue can yield a different kind of cookie.
We made a batch of pistachio macarons with pistachio buttercream and a batch of hazelnut success with salted caramel ganache.
I decided to make some hazelnut success, which are nothing more than baked meringue with sugar and hazelnut meal gently folded in. Success is barely folded compared to the way macarons must be almost turned into a paste. The macaron batter is “worked” into a shiny mass, however, success must be folded with a light hand and gentle touch.
I understand that macaron recipes contain more dry ingredients that the rest of meringues, which also contributes to the completely different texture, but I would say, that is mostly in the hand. When macarons are under-mixed and much of the air is left in the mass, they turn into light crispy meringues and not the chewy interior we all desire.
I think at the end of the day, the reason why all this intrigues me is because it means that a recipe or a list of ingredients don’t really mean all that much unless there is care and touch behind it.
100 grams almond meal
80 grams raw pistachio meal
243 grams powdered sugar
138 grams egg whites
3 grams egg white powder
81 grams sugar
few drops of all-natural green food coloring
In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour, pistachio meal and powdered sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg white and the egg white powder. Whip in medium speed until egg whites start to increase in volume. When the egg whites are almost fully whipped and very fluffy, slowly start adding the sugar, sprinkle it in. After all the sugar is incorporated, continue to whip the meringue in high speed now until semi stiff peaks have formed. Add food coloring.
Add the meringue to the almond flour and pistachio meal mixture and with a spatula, fold the meringue into the dry ingredients. This is called “macaroner” and is also a tricky part. It is better to fold slowly and test a couple of macaroons because it is possible to over fold this mixture. We are looking for a shiny mass. For this amount of ingredients, I would say that it will only take about 10 to 15 strokes. But again, it is better to check for consistency. We are looking for a mass that spreads a little but not too much otherwise our macaroons will be flat.
Pipe the mass onto half sheet pans lined with silpats. Sprinkle the wet macaroons with pistachio crumble or chopped pistachios.
Let them sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes so they dry. We want the tops to not stick to our finger when we touch them. This will ensure a crack-free macaroon.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees. Bake one sheetpan at a time and rotate half way after about 10 minutes. They will take about 16 minutes total but depends on your oven.
50 grams egg whites
100 grams sugar
150 grams butter, softened
50 grams pistachio paste
Mix the egg whites and the sugar and place them over a double boiler while you whisk them together. The sugar will start to dissolve and the egg whites will start to turn white and fluffy. Continue whisking until the egg whites feel hot to the touch.
Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer and whip in high speed until light and fluffy and the bottom of the bowl doesn’t feel hot anymore. About 3-5 minutes.
Start adding the softened butter by the tablespoon. Keep adding more butter as it is incorporated into the meringue. It might look like it is curdling but don’t worry, keep mixing. When is well mixed, add the pistachio paste.
50 grams egg whites
40 grams sugar
40 grams powdered sugar
25 grams hazelnut meal
Whip the egg whites fully and slowly add the sugar. Whip to stiff peaks.
Separately, sift the powdered sugar and hazelnut meal together. Sprinkle this mixture over the meringue and fold by hand, slowly. Be careful not to deflate the meringue too much.
Place the mix in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe long lines of the meringue on a sheetpan lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or until they dry completely. When they cool you should be able to pick them up from the parchment no problem.
Salted Caramel Ganache
60 grams sugar
110 grams heavy cream
100 grams bittersweet chocolate (64%)
65 grams milk chocolate (38%)
15 grams salted butter
pinch fleur de sel
Make a dry caramel with the sugar. In the meantime, heat the cream and when the caramel is starting to turn fairly dark, deglaze it with the cream.
Have the dark and milk chocolates chopped in a separate bowl. Strain the caramel mixture over the chocolate. Let it sit untouched for a minute. The caramel will start to slowly melt the chocolate. Whisk gently until all the chocolate is dissolved and the ganache has formed an emulsion. When it has coioled a bit, which will happen quickly since it’s a small batch, add the soft butter and mix keeping the emulsion. Add the fleur de sel.
Let the ganache sit at room temperature until it hardens enough to be pipeable. Place in a pastry bag and pipe in between hazelnut success.