Monday, June 27, 2011

Sarah Bernhardts

Today I wanted to challenge myself a little bit with something more elegant which requires more skill.  This particular recipe is basically a small almond macaron topped with chocolate that has a little bit of rum in it.

These are tasty little gems.  When you bite into these, the first flavor that comes through is the almond macaron and then it is quickly followed by the rich chocolate.   

Regarding the presentation, these did not turn out looking like the lovely picture.  In the picture, the top is a perfectly round ball with a smooth coat of chocolate.  I had difficulty achieving the smoothness and it was hard to cover the ball on top without getting the macaron coated with chocolate.  Also, practicing with making a standard macaron is something I should have done before attempting these.

I am now am toying with improving and simplifying some of the methods for making these, so it still is a work in progress. 

Anyhow, the recipe and instructions are below.

Sarah Bernhardts
courtesy of Ladies Home Journal

3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tsp of dark rum
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 large egg whites
1 tbs vegetable shortening
2 tbs of butter
16 oz chopped chocolate
7-8 oz almond paste (1 tube or 1 can)
1/2 cup of sugar
pinch of salt

This particular recipe makes 8 dozen cookies.  This will vary according to how large you make the macarons, but the 8 dozen is based on their size being 3/4 inch rounds.  If you have never made macarons, be aware that the batter does rise or expand when baked.

Prepare your 3 baking sheets by lining with foil and set aside.  Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take out 2 pastry bags or cut off a small part of one of the corners of  2 freezer bags. Fit one bag with a 1/4 inch plain tip and the other with a 1/2 inch plain tip.

In a large bowl, beat together for 30 seconds the almond paste, almond extract, sugar, egg whites and salt.  At the initial stage, the electric mixer should be set on medium speed. After the 30 seconds, increase the speed to high and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes.

Scoop out the batter from the bowl and fill the pastry bag that has the smaller size tip.  Then pipe the batter into 3/4 rounds on the baking sheets. Make sure that the rounds are smooth, without any tips poking up.  After one sheet is full, place it in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes.  Once done, let rounds cool completely on pan placed over a rack.  Continue with the same process until all the batter has been formed and is baked.  After all the cookies have completely cooled, carefully peel them off of the foil and flip each one over and place on a large platter. Set platter aside.

To make the filling, take out a small saucepan and fill with heavy cream.  Place over high heat and let come to a boil.  As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat.  Then add only 8 ounces of the chopped chocolate, rum and butter.  It will take about 40 minutes for mixture to melt and become thick enough for piping, but it will need to be stirred occasionally during this time. Once desired consistency is met, place filling inside the remaining pastry bag and pipe mounds onto the macarons.When all macarons have been filled, put them in the fridge for at least one hour to firm up.

During this time, take the other 8 ounces of chopped chocolate and place it in the top part of a double boiler.  Then add the shortening.  Fill the bottom part of the double boiler with water and place over high heat.  When the water starts to boil, turn down heat so water will only be simmering.  The top part of the boiler will now be put over the bottom and the mixture inside stirred. When the chocolate reaches a smooth consistency-turn off the heat but leave the pan in place.

Take the platter full of cooled cookies from the fridge.  Dip each cookie, mound side down, into the chocolate.  Place it back on the platter.  After completing about 6, you can stick decorations on top if desired.  Then continue this process until all cookies are dipped and decorated.  Place back in fridge until firm.  Due to the high humidity here, I placed them in the freezer for about 20 minutes.