Recipe: pink praline heart and white chocolate macarons

Last time I used by pink pralines to decorate bready heart shaped rolls with krushchev dough, for today I ground up some last few large chunks of praline to create a fine pink dust and stencilled it onto these macarons. An unexpected consequence of doing so was that the sugar made the macaron shells bubble up into a 3 dimensional shape. It was a total accident but I quite like it.

I am sending these macarons to Mac Attack 16 at Mactweets, the monthly macaron baking event hosted by Deeba and Jamie. This month’s theme is, oddly enough, Valentine’s macarons!

I hope you’ll excuse my brevity today… for once I’m letting the pictures do the talking!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Pink Praline Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache
Makes around 20 pairs of macaron shells

Ingredients:
for the shells
110g icing sugar
60g ground almonds
2 free range egg whites (60g worth), left to age for 2 days
40g caster sugar
2 pink pralines, smashed to bits and then ground finely

for the pink white chocolate ganache
100g white chocolate
100ml double cream
pink gel food colouring

You will need
Piping bags
2 baking sheets
a small piece of card (about A5 size)

Method:
1. Sift the icing sugar and almonds into the food processor and blitz to give yourself an even finer powder.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites to a foam using an electric mixer then add the caster sugar gradually and continue beating until you have a meringue that stands in soft peaks.
3. Tip the sugar and almond mix on top. Using a silicon spatula, sweep around the bowl in a circle and then cut sideways strokes with the thin blade of the spatula through the centre backwards and forwards ten times. Repeat sweeping around the edge of the bowl and doing your ten strokes five times so that you’ve done fifty strokes. Your batter should be roughly ready by this point, you are looking for a flowing lava effect. If it is too stiff continue sweeping around the edge of the bowl and doing another ten strokes until you are happy with the flow.
4. Fix parchment paper to your baking sheet with a blob of meringue batter in each corner. Fill piping bags with the batter, I use disposable ones with around 1.5cm width snipped of the end.
5. Pipe discs in a circular movement around the size of a two pound coin. Allow a similar distance between the piped circles incase they spread. Pick the tray up with both hands and rap on the table firmly to make the circles settle.
6. Cut a small 4-5cm diameter heart shape into a piece of card. Hold it as close to the macaron batter as you can and sprinkle powdered praline dust through it to make little hearts.
6. Preheat the oven to 150c. Leave the piped circles near a radiator for 15-20 minutes to dry out (winter only). In summer, leave for 30 minutes. The surface of the circles should dry out so that they are no longer sticky to the touch. The feet develop as the surface has toughened before the centre has cooked, the pressure that builds up under heating forces the top of the macaron to rise, then you should get feet.
7. Bake for 12-18 minutes depending on size. The length of time really is trial and error. I put mine on the lowest oven shelf but again you will need to experiment.
8. Hopefully, if you’ve cooked them enough but not too much, you’ll have that happy medium of a surface that peels beautifully off the baking parchment but a meringue which remains soft and gooey like a truffle inside. If you are having trouble removing them from the paper, some drops of water sprinkled under the parchment whilst still warm will help steam the macarons off. But I find that they come off best when completely cool and don’t need this. So don’t be impatient!
9. For the ganache, heat the cream and chocolate in a small pan until they melt together. Allow to cool down but before the ganache sets, prick the surface with a cocktail stick dipped in pink gel food colouring and mix until evenly coloured.
10. When the shells are cool but whilst the ganache is still soft, spread or pipe your filling on the flat side of a shell and sandwich with another, squeezing gently. Allow to set for a couple of hours. I find the texture softer when they’ve been filled and kept in a tin overnight. They keep in an airtight tin for a week. If you can resist them.

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