Although Gerbet macaroons are very much in vogue and are wonderful, equally delicious are the almond macaroons with a crackly surface. Originated and named in France either Macaron craquelés or Macaron De Nancy.
Both types of above mentioned macaroons are made primarily from almonds, sugar and egg whites, however, they do differ a lot in flavor and texture. While the Gerbet macaroon has a perfectly smooth and even surface with a tender chewy texture, almond macaroons have a much firmer crunch with an undeniable chewy texture and a more clearly pronounced almond flavor.
If you’re like me and you like to amuse your taste buds once in a while with something special then flavor these macaroons with star anise. Star anise and almond is a superb and much underused combination. Some people associate anise with licorice because oftentimes these flavors are used in conjunction in confectionary. However, star anise is much more floral and less earthy if compared to licorice. When sandwiched with a silky ganache and served with perfect espresso, these macaroons become even more extraordinary.
Crackly almond macaroons are best made with good quality almond paste. Almond flour does not provide the highly desired crisp surface in these macaroons. When selecting almond paste make certain that you are buying a product which primarily contains almonds and not glucose or corn syrup. Almond paste with high corn syrup levels will make the macaroon batter too runny and the baked macaroons too sweet. The high quality and all natural almond paste I recommend (And these people do not pay me to write this) is made by love’n Bake and is available on multiple web sites.
These macaroons are great the day they are made but will easily last for several days. Keep them at room temperature in an airtight container for best texture and flavor. Star anise is best ground fresh which can easily be done in a coffee grinder. If you absolutely do not like star anise, then consider adding 2 tablespoons instant coffee to the almond macaroon batter. The ganache filling is optional but it makes these macaroons truly special.
Almond macaroons | Macaron de Nancy
Yield: About 60
|1 can||(10 oz)||Love’n Bake almond paste||300 g|
|1 ¼ Cup||(10 oz)||Extra fine granulated sugar||300g|
|½ teaspoon||( ½ tsp))||Ground star anise||2 g|
|3 ½||(3.5 oz)||Egg whites||100 g|
|¼ teaspoon||(1/4 tsp)||Salt||1 g|
|1 teaspoon||(1 tsp)||Vanilla extract||5 ml|
- In a stand up mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix the almond paste and sugar for 2 minutes on medium speed. Add one egg white and mix two minutes. Add another egg white and mix until the mixture becomes smooth and no lumps remain.
- Scrape the bowl and mix smooth ensuring no lumps are visible.
- Add the remaining egg whites, salt and vanilla.
- Using a piping bag fitted with a medium tip, pipe the batter on parchment lined baking sheets in even small mounds. Dust with powdered sugar.
- Allow the macaroons sit for at least 60 minutes at room temperature before baking, this will ensure a crisp and crackly crust.
- Bake in a 350 F (180C) preheated oven until light golden, about 12-14 minutes.
- When cooled sandwich the macaroons with olive oil ganache.
Ganache with olive oil, filling for macaroons
|1 Cup||(8 oz)||Heavy cream||240 g|
|¼ Cup||(2 oz)||Invert sugar http://www.chefeddy.com/2009/11/invert-sugar/||60 g|
|12 oz||(12 oz)||Chocolate 56-58% cocoa||360 g|
|2 Tbsp||(1 oz)||Olive oil||30g|
- Heat the cream and invert sugar to 185F (85C). Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Using an immersion blender blend smooth.
- Gradually pour in the olive oil and blend well. Allow to crystallize at room temperature.