Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Raspberry Macarons and Cake Pops

Look at that reflection in the table! How adorbs is he?
Macarons, like you and me, are unique. One of these raspberry macs went surfing in the California sun and the other sat at home snacking in front of Food Network. Both, however, were delicious in their own way.

Some macarons are too sweet, but these combine the complex bittersweetness of quality dark chocolate and the bright floral tang of raspberries. We found freeze dried raspberries at Trader Joe’s; if you cannot get your hands on these, you can try freeze dried strawberries or concentrated raspberry jam or coulis in the ganache and omit the raspberries from the shells.

Chocolate raspberry ganache (fills 20 macarons)
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
100g heavy cream
30g butter, room temp
10g raspberry powder (ground freeze dried raspberries)

Shells (makes 36-40 shells)
90 g almond flour
120 g confectioner's sugar
35 g granulated sugar
70 g egg white (2 large whites)
2 g raspberry powder, plus more for dusting

For ganache: Heat cream in microwave until just about to boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk slowly until smooth. Add butter and raspberry powder, and whisk til smooth. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate til just stiff enough to pipe.

For shells: Pulse almond flour, confectioner's sugar, and raspberry powder in food processor until very finely ground. Sift the powder with a medium-mesh sieve, discarding the almond bits and raspberry seeds that don’t fit through; whisk to blend. With oil-free beaters and a clean metal bowl, whisk egg whites until white and frothy, and add granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time while whisking on medium high speed until egg whites have stiff peaks. Fold 1/2 of the dry ingredients into the meringue until just incorporated. Add the remaining dry ingredients and fold 15-20 times to make a lava-like batter. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe 1.25-inch circles onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Rap them a few times to wake up the neighbors, remove air pockets, and flatten any stubborn bumps. With a fine mesh sieve, dust the tops with raspberry powder. Let rest until dry to the touch (about 45 minutes, longer on rainy days). Preheat oven to 300F with the oven rack on the lower third. Bake macaron shells on the lower third of the oven for 18-20 minutes, until the center ones don't wobble when nudged. Remove Silpat onto the table and allow shells to cool 30 minutes before removing.

Assembly: Match them based on size and fill with ganache. Refrigerate or freeze immediately and allow them to get happy overnight. Allow to rest at room temp (30 minutes if from the fridge, 2 hours if from freezer) before enjoying.

It appears that cake pops are harder than macarons to make. These are the only two that did not fall apart and end up on the table. We suspect it's because we used homemade cream cheese frosting to make the cake balls, and this may have been less sticky than the trans-fat laden Betty Crocker frosting that the recipe called for. Or maybe we're just nooby when it comes to cake pops. The latter is highly probable. :D

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