I had one of those moments the other day. The boys and I were out shopping and popped into our local Cadbury shop. We hadn't been in there for a while, and usually buy a treat when we do go, so had a good look around. I was absolutely amazed to see a blast from my past there. Jameson's Raspberry Ruffles. I hadn't seen these anywhere for years. They are, if you don't know, little chocolates made from raspberry-flavoured coconut fondant enrobed in dark chocolate. They taste (to me, anyway), sublime.
One of my grandfather's favourite sweets, too, a fond childhood memory of mine is of him and I going on expeditions to his allotment, and returning, his bike laden with home grown veggies for tea. Of course, what he didn't tell my nan, was that we had had a brief detour via his bookies, and my reward for silence was a few of his treasured raspberry ruffles. Not that I'm easily bought, of course ...
Aanyways, I hadn't seen them in ages and so just had to get a bag. They tasted just as I remembered, and it got me thinking that raspberry and chocolate is such a classic combination, how else could I use them? The coconut gave me the idea to try out some macarons, as I have plenty of coconut flour amongst the ingredients in my 'curry cupboard'. So I wondered about replacing some of the ground almonds with some of this coconut flour which is already finely ground. I'd heard also, that the best thing to use if you want fruit macarons is dried fruit powder, and so in order to get the raspberry flavour, I managed to source some raspberry powder. So what I was intending was the coconut-raspberry flavour to come from the macaron shells, with a dark chocolate ganache to sandwich them together. A bit of a reverse raspberry ruffle, but I figured you would still get the taste.
I used what has become my normal recipe for macarons as a base, and then played around with the quantities. I was really pleased with the end result as far as taste went, but there were a few hiccups which disappointed me. I still have not managed to create macs that have the bold colour I'm looking for, without being tinged brown by the oven. On this occasion, I think it's due in part to the fact that I actually needed to bake the macs for far longer than normal, and had to take a pretty radical approach. I did my normal 15 minutes (but at a slightly lower temperature - 130C) and as they felt dry to the touch, took them out to cool. After about 30 minutes, I easily peeled them off the silicon liner. While they looked OK at first, after cooling for a few hours on parchment, the outer shell had also become slightly soggy. So I reheated the oven, and then put them again in for 5 minutes. After that, I flipped them over and put them in for another 5 minutes. This allowed them to mostly dry out while still retaining a hint of chew in the centre. However, the colour of the macs suffered as they became increasingly tinged brown with the longer cooking. I'm not sure what caused the extra moisture in the macs, but presume it was either the lower oven temp, or the fruit powder. Otherwise, I'm at a loss to explain why this batch was different to previous. I don't think it affected the taste though, and they were pretty reminiscent of Raspberry Ruffles.
So, here you go. Raspberry Ruffle Macarons.
Coconut Raspberry Ruffle Macarons
Ingredients (makes approximately 40)
175g icing sugar
65g ground almonds
60g coconut powder
5g freeze dried raspberry powder
3 large egg whites
75g caster sugar
Pink gel food colouring (I used Wilton's Pink)
Dark Chocolate Ganache
100g 70% dark chocolate
50ml double cream
|Clockwise from left - Coconut, Almond and Raspberry|
Place the almonds and coconut into the bowl of a food processor. Add the icing sugar and powdered raspberry. Pulse a few times until well mixed and ground finely. Sieve this mixture twice to remove the larger pieces of nut left. Put on one side.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, but they do not go dry. Add the caster sugar bit by bit, while you continue whisking. Add the pink colouring to get a deep raspberry shade, and then continue whisking until you have a smooth meringue.
Gently fold into this half of the almond/coconut mix. The mixture should start to loosen a bit. Add the remaining dry mix, and continue folding until the mixture flows from your spatula in a ribbon (see below). I suspect that on this occasion, I didn't quite mix it enough, and so could have done with a few more folds to loosen it a bit more.
Transfer the mix to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round tip. Pipe into rounds. Allow the macs to sit on the counter top for at least 30 minutes until they feel dry to the touch and are no longer tacky (it may take a bit longer - up to an hour). This is an important stage, as it is what allows the feet to form when the macs enter the heat of the oven.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove, and immediately slide the mat onto a cooling rack. (The picture below shows macs of two slightly different colours - I'm not sure why this is at this stage, as they had both been cooked in the oven for the same time, on the same rack.
|Fresh from the oven|
Make up the ganache by melting the chocolate, with the cream, in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir well to mix, and then allow to cool slightly to thicken. Place in a piping bag, and use to sandwich the macaron shells together.
It looks like I still have to find the magic formula, colour-wise, but these were a lovely little treat, full of raspberry ruffle flavour. You could definitely taste the raspberry, and the coconut came through well, too. In truth though, maybe a little too well, and I think I would probably use slightly less coconut next time (so 40g coconut to 85g almonds) to temper it slightly.
As I've now returned to work after a period of maternity leave, I'm finding it a little difficult to manage everything I want to do, so I'm sorry but blogging - and baking - have taken a bit of a back seat for the last few weeks. I've got some great things planned though, and can't wait to try them. They just might be a little less frequent as I'll need to be super-organised while I sort out my routine!