It’s Valentine’s Day and I should really be posting something that has to do with roses or something pink, but this post is one about really dark chocolate, which I guess is still in line with the theme of the day.
When I learned about Pierre HermÃ©’s Macaron book near the end of 2009, it had long been sold out and no copies of the book could be found online for purchase. The other thing that held me back from going on an all out search for the book was that it was written in French. My french is really only limited to food ingredients and a few basic phrases, so I dropped the idea of getting the book.
It was only recently, having sampled PH’s macarons from Paris and Tokyo (thanks to the generosity of family and a good friend), that I began to wonder if I could accurately reproduce the same flavours at home. The book immediately came to mind and I went on a hunt for the book, which I have to say is a most fantastic read. Each flavour combination sounds like a dream, except maybe the ketchup one. I feel compelled to bake my way through the book, Julie & Julia style!
Long before I’d received the book, I already knew that the first recipe I’d try from the book would be the chocolate shells which incorporate 100% cacao chocolate, reportedly one of the more difficult shells to master. There are several flavours in the book that use chocolate shells and I went with the Macaron au Chocolat Amer.
The next task was to find 100% cacao chocolate in Singapore. Following some leads from friends and a little googling, I finally located 100% cacao chocolate at Jones the Grocer. (I’ve been told that Cold Storage carries 100% cacao baking chocolate from Hershey’s).
I followed the recipe and instructions with some hesitation for 2 reasons. First, the batter was really thick and my hands ached from the macaronage, even though I’d made only 1/2 the recipe. Second, the instructions called for baking with the convection fan setting and opening the oven twice during the baking process. Really?? Wouldn’t the macarons end up overbaked and wouldn’t the feet sink if I opened the oven? I forged on.
To my amazement, the shells were perfect in form (even with a power trip during the baking of the second batch!) Texture-wise, the shells were thin without a single dreaded air pocket in sight. The only thing was that the shells were a little crisp compared to what I usually get with my regular recipe. I filled them, keeping my fingers crossed that the shells would soften after 24 hours in the fridge, something I’ve not had to do normally.
Happily, the macarons came out perfect after the maturing process. The best part is that it’s been a week and the macarons are still good in the fridge, if not better. I’m hoping that this successful attempt was not a matter of beginner’s luck and am looking forward to trying out the next flavour!
Note: I have an extra copy of Pierre HermÃ©’s Macaron (brand new, in French only) for sale. Please email me if you’re interested. I will not publish any comments related to enquiries about the book. *SOLD*