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Hazelnut Macarons with Mocha Ganache by Shabs @ Shabs Cuisine

Are you all enjoying the Featured blog series here?? Well, I am thoroughly enjoying this :) Its so much fun to have my friends over and share their recipes, plus I get to introduce them to you!! Today, we welcome a very talented blogger and a dear friend Shabs, who is the author of the very tasty blog, Shab’s Cuisine. I have known Shabs for a very little time, but have loved interacting with her. She’s a warm and fun loving girl, can cook up some amazing food and photographs them so beautifully!! I have been following her blog for a long time, almost 2 years as a silent admirer. I especially like the vast collection of Malabar recipes on her page. Malabar is the south-west coastal region in India, which is very famous for its sea food and non vegetarian food. Almost all the dishes use coconut, in very generous quantities, obviosuly because of the abundance of coconuts in the region!! And I think Shabs can easily be given a PhD in Malabar Cuisine :) I personally had almost no knowledge of this particular cuisine, it was limited to parathas and biriyani. But there are so many more things that I would love to try and have never heard about. She is an avid baker and has a very good collection of baked goodies, apart from a wide variety of Indian recipes and desserts, pastas, snacks and Ramadan special dishes. Hope over right now and check out her blog. But wait, you have to see these gorgeous macarons she has made for us today! She has also given us some very useful tips on making these finicky and delicate, but extremely delicious treats!! Over to Shabs…

Hazelnut Macarons with Mocha Ganache

I am quite exited to be your guest today and thank you for having me over Ambika. It’s an honor for me to be guest blogging at your space and it’s great to know that I am one of your favourite bloggers. When I was asked to do a guest post, I could not think of anything better than macarons to share on such a nice blog, to such a warm and friendly person. I sure hope you and your readers like them.


I have been smitten by the so called French confection – macaron the very first time I sunk my teeth into. And since then, there was never a looking back. I am obsessed about baking macarons and would never possibly spare an opportunity without making them. End results of macarons are highly temperamental and that’s what I like about making these morsels. I never had feetless macarons, but couple of times it failed to give good looking macarons as a result of my over-confidence. Something not good to have especially when you are dealing with macarons. Deadly!

Not to intimidate you, but as word of caution, even with the same recipe and same steps, it can still go wrong if the mixing isn’t right.  A perfect macaron is not about a perfect recipe, but a perfect recipe paired with a right technique of mixing the ingredients. It is just whipping egg whites and then mixing it to icing sugar-ground almond mixture. Sounds easy right? Yes, but it can’t be taken for granted. So to avoid disappointment, watch several videos to see the consistency of the batter and folding techniques and follow a reliable recipe. It is challenging, lot of work, lot of mess, but fun. And I get sold for that.

I love to see those beautiful ruffled feet developing while baking macarons. It usually starts forming after the third minute in my oven. Those three minutes of waiting is such a pleasure, I sit quite next to the oven watching each shells forming its feet. It was while baking macarons that I discovered my oven has quite an uneven temperature distribution. I noticed each shell developing foot at different times and many seconds apart. The ones in the centre always stays slightly underdone than the one around the edges, so I bake for couple of minutes extra and turn the pan once towards the end to ensure even cooking.

Usually macarons are made with almonds, probably because almonds are quite subtle in taste compared to other nuts and they can be paired with umpteen flavours of fillings. I am not sure, but that’s my opinion. This time I thought of trying it out with hazelnut as I had quite a bit of leftover hazelnut after making some great biscottis.

I usually used blanced/powdered/ almonds for  making macarons so that you get clean spotless shells. Here I didn’t skin the hazelnuts hence the brown speckles on the shells. I loved the look anyway. But if you want to skin the hazelnuts, check out this article here which explains how to skin them. A bit of works goes into it, which is why I skipped it. After all having a bit of skin doesn’t hurt.

I usually make half the original batch as I don’t want to waste whole lot of them if something goes wrong. Hazelnut worked very well; the taste is very different from those of almond macarons. It has more of a smoky flavour with a well pronounced hazelnut taste and smelt just like nutella! Hazelnut macaron would pair well with nutella, but I made some Mocha Ganache to go with it. The shells came out very well and the mocha Ganache filling was simply awesome.

Note: For an elaborate macaron post with my tips and links to other helpful sources, check out my first macaron post here.

Ingredients:
Makes 16-17 sandwiched cookies

For shells:

55g whole hazelnut
100g Icing sugar
15g caster sugar
45g aged egg whites

For the Filling – Mocha Ganache:

100g dark chocolate (I used Nestle Bourneville)
100mls double cream
½ – 1 tsp Nescafe Instant coffee granules

Method:

For the Shells:

  • For ageing egg whites: Place egg whites in a clean bowl. Cover it with a cling cover and poke few holes in the film. Keep it in your kitchen counter for 24-48 hours or in fridge for up to 5 days. This is called ageing of egg-whites. This helps to reduce the moisture content in the egg whites and helps to make firmer shells. Fresh egg whites make fragile cookies which may break off as you try to lift them off the baking paper.
  • Powder hazelnuts and icing sugar in a food processor or a grinder into very flour-like fine powder. Transfer them to a large bowl and sieve 1-2 times to break up the lumps. Discard the large grains of hazelnuts if any. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl and keep aside while you work with meringue and prepare your baking sheet and piping pag.
  • Line your baking sheets with baking paper or silpat. Fit your piping bag with a round tip nozzle and place it in a tall glass or a jar to make the job easier while scooping the batter in.
  • For making meringue, using an electric blender, whisk egg whites in a squeaky clean bowl (preferably metallic bowl as it is difficult to maintain a plastic/glass bowl grease free) on high until it starts to form soft peaks. Add in caster sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. It should be like a smooth, glossy shaving cream like form. If adding any colour, add once stiff peaks are formed and then beat again to stiff peaks incorporating the food colour. Make sure it is not over beaten and dry, which would result in dry shells.
  • Add meringue to the dry mixture in 2-3 portions and start folding it until everything is just combined and no more of dry mixture could be seen. Use a flexible spatula for this and mix until you get a smooth, shiny batter that ruggedly drips down the spoon once you lift it. DO NOT over mix once you have reached that thick batter stage. For testing, place a teaspoon of batter in a plate and you see it spreading flat, then the batter should be ready. If it has a peak on top, give couple more folds and check again. Keep checking the batter at each stage by placing a spoon of batter in the plate to judge the consistency.
  • Pour the macaron batter into the piping bag. Once the batter is all poured in, twist the ends of piping bag tight to seal the batter in. Pipe out small rounds of about 2 cm diameter on your baking paper leaving about 2 inches in between. The macaron batter will spread and then join hands with the next one if they are piped too close, so make sure leave atleast 2 inches between them. Rap the baking sheet few times on a table to remove any bubbles trapped in the batter. (To help you with the round shape, you can use this template).
  • Let the macarons sit to dry for as long as it forms a thin skin on top or is dry and leaves no indentation once touched or the batter doesn’t stick to hands once touched. It depends from place to place depending on the weather and humidity. In a humid place it will take as long as 2-3 hours whereas here it takes under 30 minutes, but I leave for a bit more.
  • Preheat the oven to 140 degress Celcius. Bake the macaron for 11-13 minutes. Do not open the oven until they are completely done. Take them out and let them cool down for 10 minutes. Peel them out gently and sort them out with same size shells. Fill them with Ganache and leave it in fridge to mature for a 2-3 days two to get maximum flavour out of it. It is very important to mature the cookies as that filling will steep into the shells and the flavours blend well. Unfilled shells can be frozen.

For the filling:

  • Bring double cream to simmering point in a heavy base pan or in microwave. Once you start seeing small bubbles appearing along the sides, turn the heat off and add chopped chocolates and coffee into it. Leave it for couple of minutes and then stir well until combined. Leave aside until it firms enough to pipe. You can also pop it into fridge once warm and then take it out once firm enough to pipe.

Doesn’t that filling look divine?!!!

Thank you Shabs for this amazing post and gorgeous photos!! I hope I get to try my hand at making these soon and they turn out as beautiful as yours!!!

You might also like:

Classic French Macarons – Delicate & Beautiful!

Chocolate Fudge – Guest post by Pavithra of Dishes From My Kitchen

Bombay Chutney – Besan/Chickpea flour chutney

Garlic Rasam (Tangy south Indian Garlic Soup) by Sangeetha @Kothiyavunu

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