Friday, November 22, 2013

Cinnamon & Cardamom (Chai Spice) Macarons

Here's another seasonally appropriate dessert suggestion for Thanksgiving: cinnamon and cardamom macarons with chai spiced ganache. For a more thorough explanation of the technique for making macarons, you can visit my vanilla bean and dulce de leche macarons post from last year. I'll be much less technical in this post.
Ingredients:
macarons
100 g egg whites
50 g granulated sugar
110 g almond flour
200 g powdered sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom

ganache
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (I used 60% cacao)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chai spice tea
¼ teaspoon salt

Start by combining the chai tea with the heavy cream in a sauce pan. Heat over a low flame until scalding.
In a large bowl, add the chocolate chips and salt. Strain the heated cream over the chocolate chips and start whisking until a smooth ganache forms. It should be shiny and lovely. Set aside until you are ready to use it. It will start to stiffen as it cools but it will still be spreadable. If it gets too stiff, you can always heat it up over a double boiler.

Measure out all of your ingredients carefully on a kitchen scale.
I made my own almond flour because I prefer it to the store bought kind. Not for any other reason except I can eat the regular almonds or put them in a salad or do what I wish - it's a multi-use ingredient. If you'd like to do the same, start by pulsing slivered blanched almonds and a few tablespoons of powdered sugar in a food processor. If you have almond flour ready to go, then skip these next few steps.
Sift the almond flour through a sieve to isolate any larger chunks. Put the larger pieces back in to the food processor with a little more powdered sugar and grind them up again until all of the almonds have been processed.
Onto the meringue. Whip up the egg whites for a few seconds just until frothy and add in the cream of tartar and salt. Whip for another few minutes until soft peaks form. Then, pour in the granulated sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. The meringue should be stiff enough that the bowl can be flipped upside down and nothing falls out.
Use a rubber spatula to fold the cinnamon, cardamom, almond flour and powdered sugar into the meringue. Keep folding to deflate some of the air, until a plop of batter dropped back into the bowl disappears in 8 to 10 seconds.
Pipe the macarons onto either a silicon baking mat or parchment paper. Use a template to make sure each cookie is piped evenly. Tap the cookie trays on a hard surface a few times just to get out any large air bubbles. Let the cookies dry out until the outside forms a "skin" and tap down the little peaks left over from piping by just using your finger. The amount of time it takes for the cookies to form a skin will depend on the humidity of the day.
Bake in a 300F oven for about 15 minutes or until the shells are firm. You can tell they're done when the surface of the cookies are no longer shiny.
Let the cookies cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then fill with the chai spiced ganache.
Let the cookies "cure" for 24 hours before serving. The moisture of the filling will start to permeate the shells and give the macarons their signature texture.
The spices in the shells compliment the chocolate nicely. These taste really appropriate for autumn.
So pretty, right? Imagine setting this alongside the rest of your Thanksgiving banquet. They will be perfect with a nice cup of tea or espresso. You can make these a few days ahead or even a week ahead and they can be stored in the fridge or freezer and defrosted to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!
Crunch!
Here's the recipe page:

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