February 11, 2016 @ 11:45 AM
If you really want to make your sweetie swoon this Valentine's Day, skip the box of chocolates and bake up something fresh and unexpected: heart-shaped macarons.
"Making macarons is actually a lot easier than you think," promises Dana Loia, of N.Y.C.-based Dana's Bakery. The pastry pro has been churning out these French meringue-based confections since 2012, giving them her own "American twist" with signature flavors like S'Mores, Red Velvet, and Cotton Candy—and gaining a loyal following along the way.
Not only did Loia share her signature macaron and chocolate cherry ganache recipes with us, she also took us into the kitchen to demonstrate, step-by-step, how even beginners can master the meringue. Watch her tackle these heart-shaped beauties in the video above, and follow the recipe below for the perfect Valentine's Day treat.
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Recipe by Dana Loia
Makes 20 sandwiched 2-inch macaron hearts (40 halves)
1 ¼ packed cups (165 grams) almond flour, sifted
Pinch of fine sea salt
3/4 packed cup (165 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) cream of tartar, sifted
1/2 cup (115 grams) aged egg whites (from 4 eggs)
4 drops gel food coloring
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Whisk together the almond flour, salt and confectioners’ sugar in a wide mixing bowl.
2. Whip the egg whites in a standing mixer with the granulated sugar, cream of tartar and your aged and room temp egg whites, on medium-high speed until glossy stiff peaks form (approximately 4-6 minutes depending on mixer speed). Add the food coloring halfway through if you are just doing one color. If you are doing more than one color, wait until after step 4 to add the coloring.
3. Meanwhile, make a 2-inch heart shaped template and trace 10 hearts spaced 1 1/2 inches apart onto two sheets of parchment paper that’s cut to the size of your baking sheets. Position the sheet ink-side down on your pan. Set aside. This will ensure that your cookies come out consistently.
4. Start to fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until blended and there are no dry pieces or chunks left. It is important to fold the different components just enough, but not too much or the macarons will crack. To make sure that you have reached the right point, once the ingredients appear combined, lift a large portion of the mixture about 6 inches above the bowl with the spatula. If it breaks when falling from the spatula, continue to fold. When folded just enough, the mixture should fall right back into the bowl, with no stiffness, in one continuous drip. It should also flatten once in the bowl. If you are making more than one colored macaroon cookie, split the batter and add the coloring to each bowl. Fold until just incorporated.
5. Transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a No. 3 tip and fill in the hearts on the baking sheet with the batter.
6. Once you are done piping, slam the baking sheets down onto the counter to remove excess air (about 8 times, a foot above the counter). If you want to add texture, you can sprinkle chopped cereal or sprinkles on top of the cookies.
7. Let the macarons sit to get a skin for 15-30 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes, until the macarons just come off the baking sheet when you lift them (the centers will have risen, and will not have any dark indentations). Cool completely before removing and filling.
8. While the cookies are baking, make the ganache filling (recipe below).
9. Once the cookies are cool, sandwich them together with the ganache in between.
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Chocolate Cherry Ganache
1 lb. 66% chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pitted drained maraschino cherries, chopped fine (you can use a food processor)
1. Place chocolate in a bowl.
2. Pour hot heavy cream over chocolate and let sit for 4 minutes.
3. Stir with whisk from center toward outside of the bowl.
4. Once combined (with no breakage) add corn syrup.
5. Fold in chopped cherries.
6. Let sit to cool or place in the fridge.
7. Whip until light and fluffy before using and transfer to a piping bag to distribute to your macaron sandwiches.
[MUSIC] So making macaroons is actually a lot easier than you think. You only need a couple of things. A mixer, you don't want to mix these by hand. A whisk and a spatula. You'll need a bowl. And then you'll need two piping bags. I like to use size 18 or 21 inch. In addition to your bags, you'll need two piping tips size 803 or 805. The smaller the tip, the more precise you can get. The last thing that you'll need is a baking sheet, and then either some parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Macaroons are very simple. There are only three ingredients. Granulated sugar, you can use Domino's that's fine. Your secret ingredient are aged egg whites. Now it's very easy to age your egg whites. You'll crack it a day or two before, put it in a container, cover it, and then put it in the fridge. When you are ready to use them Take them out and let them get room temperature, and then you're good to go. Last ingredient here, almond flour and powdered sugar. Before we're ready to mix our ingredients, I want to make sure that we have our mold ready. All you need is a sharpie and parchment paper. And, I'm going to ahead and I'm going to draw a heart. And then, I'm going to take this heart And I'm going to put it under my parchment, second piece of parchment paper and I'm going to trace it over and over again. [MUSIC] And I ripped my parchment paper in half. Now I'm going to lay it on my tray. One last thing that we do before we get started is Prep our piping bag. [BLANK_AUDIO] We're gonna put our tip in here and wedge it all the way down to the bottom. Wedge it so far that if you turn it upside down, the tip does not fall out of the bag. Next I'm gonna twist, push the twist into the bag, and then I'm gonna use a scissor to score the top of this, so I can pull the tip off. I'm going to go ahead and put my bag in my container. First step, we're going to take our almond flour and our powdered sugar, and we are going to place it in a bowl. We're going to take our sugar, our cream of tartar, and our salt. I'm going to take a whisk, and I'm just going to Whisk around and make sure I don't have any lumps. Next we're going to add our aged egg whites. Now it's important to start whisking by hand. Once everything is light and frothy, we're going to transfer to our mixer. So, I like to whip my meringue on high. So at this point, it's not thick yet, it's not ready. But it's the perfect time to add a couple of drops food coloring. I would say two or three drops should do it. You can always add more later. [MUSIC] And you'll notice that at the base, it's not sliding at all, and that's exactly what you want. So, it looks like we're done. Kind of looks like taffy doesn't it? If you would want some more food coloring, like I do, it's not deep enough, you can still add some at this point. So I'm going to take a little bit more red, put a few more drops in there. And now I'm going to add my meringue to To my almond flour mixture, and I'm going to start to fold them together. [MUSIC] When you mix these together, you fold. You don't just mix because by mixing, you'll release all of that air that you worked so hard to incorporate into our meringue. All right, there we go. Dripping down is exactly what you want. So you fill this up. First thing that I'm going to do is I'm going to make a little doll up of batter in the four corners cuz I wanna secure my parchment paper to the sheet And I wanna make sure later when I do one of my final steps that my sheet does not move around. Now, I'm a righty. So I'm gonna do this with my right hand on the bottom of the bag, because that's where I have the most control. If you're a lefty, just swap your hands. So I'm going to start with the outline of my heart and I'm going to fill it in. [MUSIC] Super easy, you'll notice that I'm using my left hand to push down the batter so that my bag is full. So that when I squeeze with my right, it comes out easier. [MUSIC] OK. Now once all of my hearts are piped, it's important that I tap my tray. The reason why we tap our tray is because we want to make sure that any air bubbles that were just piped into our macaroons are released before we let them get a skin and they go in the oven. I'll explain what getting a skin is in a second, but for now, let's tap. Hold it a foot off the counter. Tap it down. I know it's really loud. Sorry to the neighbors. Only thing to do now is let it sit and by getting a skin I mean this. Anytime you have a cream based soup or a hot chocolate a cream of broccoli and it starts to cool you get that film on the top right. That's the same thing that happens with your macaroons and that's what you want You'll be able to feel it when you have a skin. Right now if I touch my macaroon, it's gonna come off on my hand. But if you have a skin, you can touch your macaroon and its hard and none of it will transfer to your finger. So our macaroons now have a skin. We're gonna put our macaroons in the oven to bake. Every oven bakes differently, so I like to rotate halfway through. I would say six minutes, rotate, and then put in for another six minutes. But if for whatever reason, you're rotating and you see that your oven's browning your macaroons, you can take a wooden spoon and you can Stick it between the door and the oven so that there's a little bit of a gap, an opening, and some of that hot air releasing will stop your macaroons from browning. There we go. Gorgeous. The way that you test that your macaroons are done is you grab your parchment from the side and you lift it up a little bit and your macaroons should come Come off clean. They should resist a little bit, of they start to separate that means that they're under baked. So I paired my pink macaroons with my red macaroons and now we're ready to fill. So this is our chocolate cherry filling and just like you piped, you're going to do the same thing You're going to follow around the outside and then fill it up in the middle. When you're filling these, you want to make sure you leave a little bit of room because the best part, and the most fun part, of filling your macaroons and assembling them. Is when you get to squeeze it together. So I'm going to take both macaroons and I'm going to sandwich it together and stop when it hits the end. They're really cute and they taste even better. And, voila, you have your Valentine's Day macaroons. [MUSIC]