Consider these a metaphor for what Valentine’s day should be: hot, sweet and most importantly, filled with chocolate!
The orange-red color of cayenne pepper is a sure giveaway of its spiciness, and a meager amount can have a big presence when added to a recipe – especially dessert. I bought a fresh bottle last week and on a whim, I whipped up these spicy macaron shells. Pairing them with ganache seemed like a natural choice, and if you are a fan of the chocolate/chili combination (usually sold in bar form) you will love these.
On another whim, I decided to make a short video of my macaron batter process. Warning: this may bore some of you to tears, and yes – my videography skills are lacking to say the least, but this is for those of you who want to see a little of my batter folding process.
I should say this; everyone has a different process, and this is what works for me. Maybe it can work for you too. I hope that you can use both the recipe and video together to have macaron success!
Note: Cayenne pepper can be omitted for plain macaron shells.
The red markings are made with a flat-head artist brush and a drop of red gel food coloring diluted in clear crème de cacao.
Cayenne Pepper Macarons
Makes about 14 sandwich cookies [click to print]
3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
1/4 cup extra fine sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Sift almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together 2-3 times. Set aside.
Whisk egg whites with a hand mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Reduce speed and gradually add extra fine sugar. Increase speed and beat until stiff peaks form.
Sift flour mixture over whites with a fine sieve. Discard any lumps or coarse bits that remain. Sift in cayenne pepper.
If coloring the batter, place a bit of gel food coloring on the end of a rubber spatula before you begin folding the mixture with it. Normally powdered food coloring is used, but a small amount of gel does not disturb the batter. I would not recommend liquid food coloring.
Fold with a rubber spatula using short strokes at first. The batter will be very stiff. Use bigger folds once batter loosens. When batter is ready, it should fall from the spatula in a thick ribbon.
Transfer mixture to a piping bag. Pipe 1 or 1 1/2″ rounds on the parchment lined baking sheets. Let piped macarons stand uncovered for 15 minutes to form a crust.
Decrease temperature to 325 just before placing the baking sheet in the oven. Bake pans one at a time for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.
Note: After first batch has baked, oven temp should be increased to 375 then decreased to 325 just before the 2nd baking sheet goes in.
Chocolate ganache filling
4.5 oz. chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
Chop chocolate and place in a small bowl. Heat cream on the stove-top until very hot but not boiling; pour over chocolate. Mix until smooth. Refrigerate until ganache is of spreading consistency. Place a small spoonful of chocolate on one shell and top with a same-sized macaron shell.
More macaron tips from my very first batches here.