Nutella macarons sans nutella!
It has been ages since I’ve made macarons – so long, in fact, that 3G yelled, “YESSSS!!!” when I handed him one of these. Poor deprived child😉
I want to experiment with different bases for the shells, to see how the taste and texture changes. Hazelnuts give these a slightly different flavour – I think they’re a little richer than almonds. The biggest difference I found, though, is in the baking. It could just be the brand I bought, but the ground hazelnuts are not as dry as the ground almonds, so they need a longer baking time to dry out properly. You can check readiness by giving one a little nudge – it shouldn’t move on the foot.
I chose a milk and dark chocolate buttercream filling for these. Of course, you can use all of one or the other or adjust the ratio as you prefer.
I’d like to share with you the reusable piping template I use when I make macarons. I made it to fit my 28 x 38cm (11 x 15″) baking sheets. The images are sized for A4 paper and the circles are 4cm (1 1/2″) across, but there should be enough margin for US Letter paper – be aware that if you resize the pages, the circle size will change, so go for 100% scaling and you should be right with either paper size. Trim along the border lines and overlap the two pages to match circles and rows, then tape the sheets together. Put the template under your parchment when you pipe, then slide it out and repeat with the second sheet – don’t forget to take it out because you can’t bake it! I taped a paper tab onto one end which overhangs the end of the baking sheet, to make it easier to slide the template out without disturbing the piped shells.
You can open or download the two pages by clicking the thumbnails.
Makes 30 filled macarons
140g ground hazelnuts
125g powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
15g unsweetened cocoa powder
a pinch of brown powder food colouring (optional)
100g egg white (from approx. 3 eggs), room temperature, divided 50/50
100g granulated (white) sugar
115g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
50g milk chocolate
25g dark chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
90g (3/4 cup unsifted) powdered (confectioners) sugar
Prepare 2 parchment lined baking sheets.
Mix the ground hazelnuts, powdered sugar, cocoa and powder food colouring (if using) together then grind batches in a food processor until you have a super fine texture. I have a mini food processor that is exclusively used for nuts, sugar, semolina and other dry ingredients, so I grind in 3 – 4 batches to avoid overfilling it and not grinding efficiently.
Sift into a large bowl by pushing with a spatula through a fine mesh strainer, and re-grind any bigger pieces of hazelnut.
Add 50g egg whites and mix thoroughly into the hazelnut mixture. Set aside.
In another bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the other 50g egg whites to stiff peaks, starting slowly and working your way up to maximum speed.
Meanwhile, put the granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat on medium-low to 118°C (244°F).
While whisking constantly on low speed (to avoid splashing hot syrup), slowly add the cooked sugar mixture to the beaten egg whites, pouring it down the inside edge of the bowl. Whisk at high speed until the mixture is cool, about 3 minutes. The mixture should increase in volume and become firm (you should get a beak when you lift the whisk) and shiny.
Scrape the meringue onto the hazelnut mixture and incorporate with a rubber or silicone spatula until you have a homogenous batter that runs from the spatula in a thick ribbon and a trail in the batter melts back into itself within 20 seconds.
Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 7 – 9mm plain tip (this is best done in two batches, so you don’t overfill the bag). Pipe 60 equally sized rounds, about 4cm (1 1/2″), in staggered rows onto the prepared sheets. Hold the piping bag upright with the tip just above the sheet and pipe without pulling upwards or swirling in circles, so the batter comes out in a round blob around the tip, and give a little sideways flick at the end to break the stream.
Tap the baking sheet firmly on the bench several times to release air bubbles and obtain a smooth surface. Leave the tray to rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes until a slight skin forms.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
Bake the macarons for 20 – 22 minutes, one sheet at a time, turning the sheet after 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and remove the parchment from the tray with the shells still on it and place on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, until completely cool, then remove macaron shells carefully from the parchment.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add chocolate and vanilla and beat to combine well, about 2 minutes.
Add powdered sugar and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated, then beat on high until smooth, another 2 to 3 minutes.
Pipe or spoon a generous blob of filling onto the flat side of half the shells, top with the remaining shells and press gently until the filling reaches the edges.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge to mature for 24 hours before eating.