This week’s Ingredient is prunes. Yuck. That was my initial reaction to using prunes in a Sweet. I did not think I was a fan of prunes. I think of prune juice as a high fiber natural remedy to keep things moving, something that is served along side breakfast to senior citizens in a Florida retirement home. But since they were on the list…
Prunes were suggested to me by Meesha. He mentioned a traditional Russian cake, called Count’s Ruins or Ruin’s of Count’s Castle. Click here for photo examples. I could never find a recipe in English, but gather this cake is meringue-based and has prunes and chocolate. I am covering all three of those ingredients in these macarons.
I chose to make a macaron for two reasons: they are naturally gluten-free, requiring no ingredient modifications and they are one of my favorite Sweets. I love a good macaron, theairy crunch on the outside of a meringue that somehow remains slightly moist on the inside, with just a hint of chewy in the very center. I had never tried to make them before and was a bit intimidated. Macaron making is reportedly difficult for many. I watched video tutorials, spent most of a day reading about technique and finally selected this recipe from David Lebovitz for French Chocolate Macarons. I made a few minor modifications in ingredients and technique. While these are far from perfection, I am pleased with how my first attempt turned out. And I’ve changed my mind about prunes, I like them! Maybe it was the brandy, maybe it was the chocolate, maybe prunes are just good. These are delicious!
Chocolate Macarons with Brandied Prune Filling
(Original Recipe by David Lebovitz)
Makes about 24 complete macarons, 1.5″ in diameter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Scharffen Berger)
1/3 cup egg whites at room temperature, allowed to rest in refrigerator for 3 days prior to use
1/4 cup plus 1 T. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper. Prepare a pastry bag with a plain, 1/2 tip. I used Wilton’s 1A tip.
In food processor, grind together almond flour, powdered sugar and cocoa until there are no lumps.
In the bowl of stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they rise and hold their shape. Add in the granulated sugar until the mixture is very stiff and firm, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Fold the dry ingredients in two batches into the beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Do not over mix, fold just until there are no streaks of egg whites. Place batter in pastry bag.
Pipe the batter onto lined cookie sheets in 1.5″ circles, spaced about an inch apart. Strike the cookie sheet on the counter a couple of times to flatten the macarons. Let them sit for 15 minutes to dry a bit, then place in oven for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet.
5 oz. pitted prunes, cut into quarters
2 1/2 ounces milk chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger‘s 41% Cacao Extra Rich Milk Chocolate)
2 T. Brandy (the original recipe called for Armagnac, which I did not have)
Pour boiling water over the prunes and let stand until prunes are soft. Drain and squeeze most of the water from the prunes. Place in food processor and puree.
Melt the milk chocolate and brandy either in a microwave or double boiler. Once smooth, stir into the prune puree. Cool completely to room temperature. This will thicken as it cools.
Melted Chocolate Glaze
2 oz. milk chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger‘s 41% Cacao Extra Rich Milk Chocolate)
Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Using a fine pastry brush, brush the flat side of the macaron cookies. Allow to set at room temperature. If you brush the chocolate on in a very thin layer, this will only take a few minutes.
Next, place the prune filling in a pastry bag. Alternately, you can spoon the filling onto the cookies. I used the same large pastry tip used for macaron piping. Pipe a generous teaspoon of prune filling on the top of one chocolate-glazed macaron. Gently place another macaron on top, creating a beautifully sandwiched confection.
These macarons are best if they are allowed to set up for one day after assembling.
|Brushed with Chocolate|
|So tasty, even with prunes!|