Chocolate French Macarons with a Nutella Buttercream
This is the simplest French Macarons recipe in the world, and yields delicious results. I think this is important too - as macarons have this notorious reputation for being difficult to make correctly. I won’t lie to you, I struggled the first few time’s I tried to make them. The secret is in the consistency of the batter - in the final few steps before you pipe the batter make sure the batter to falls from the spatula like a ribbon, and you can draw a figure 8 before the batter breaks.
Trust me, this recipe is easily achievable even for someone who’s never made them before... and who doesn’t love Nutella?!
For the Macarons:
1 cup / 120 grams ground almonds or almond meal
2/3 cup / 75 grams powdered or icing sugar
2 medium egg whites (at room temperature)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoons of vanilla essence or paste
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
For the Nutella Buttercream:
1 cup / 225 grams unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup /113 grams powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or essence
1/2 cup of Nutella or hazelnut spread.
For the macarons:
Preheat the oven to 140 C fan forced (300*F).
Blend almond meal until very fine consistency in an electric blender or food processor (I used a nutrininja).
Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Discard any lumps. Give the mixture a quick whisk.
In a separate bowl attached to a stand mixer (or you can use a handheld electric mixer) whisk the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk until the whites are very stiff, thick, and glossy (at least 10 minutes).
Gently fold the icing sugar and almond mixture, as well as the sifted cocoa powder into the meringue. Do this in thirds as to not lose to much air from the meringue mixture.
Check to see that the batter has been mixed enough by making a figure eight with the batter as it falls from the spatula. If you can make a full figure eight, the batter has been mixed enough.
Set up a piping bag a 1/3-inch (1 cm) nozzle resting inside a cup (nozzle pointing down inside the cup, and any overhang folding over the outside of the cups rim), if you don’t have a piping bag use a ziplock bag and cut a 1 cm hole on the end.
Fill piping bag with macaron batter and squirt tiny dots of the batter directly onto the baking sheet on each corner. Then press the baking paper down on top of this. (This ensures the baking paper does not move around while you are piping the macaron batter).
Pipe evenly sized circles of the batter onto the baking sheets -make sure you are holding the bag vertically and close to the baking sheet. You want around 5 cm circles, separated from each other by another 3 cm, keep in mind the batter will spread out slightly.
Gently tap the bottom of the baking sheets against your counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Then with wet fingertip, smooth out any bumps on the top of the macarons.
Let the piped macaron batter sit for at least 45 minutes so that the top forms a crust - this is important otherwise the macarons will not form a smooth dry shell.
Bake the macarons in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, I usually check on them at around 10 minutes to release any steam build up and see if they are beginning to rise!
Take the macarons out of the oven, you will know they are cooked when you can see they have risen, and have smooth, hard tops.
For the Nutella buttercream:
With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add the icing sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium speed for another minute or so.
Add the Nutella or hazelnut spread and beat for another minute or so until creamy and slightly shiny.
Add up to 1/2 cup more icing sugar if buttercream is too thin, or if it is not your desired colour (mine was, but some people like it a darker chocolate colour) add a table spoon of cocoa powder.
Pair each macaron shell with another of a similar size.
Pipe a small circle of buttercream on one half, and then sandwich it with the second macaron shell. Enjoy!
Notes: I’ve heard that Macarons taste best if you let them hangout in the fridge overnight in an airtight container - to let the flavours meld and intensify! Personally I do think the are better the next day but the fridge isn’t necessary in my opinion, if they all aren’t eaten straight away - put them in an airtight container on the bench. I find that the macaron shells get crispier and the flavour deepens somewhat, definitely making for a better experience - although that’s only if you can resist the temptation - they are great eaten fresh too.