This month's MacTweets is all about a pink October in honor of Breast Cancer awareness month. My mother has often participated in the Breast Cancer walk and this year she was diagnosed with the terrible disease. It's been found that one in eight women have it now; disheartening, but the technology to heal just keeps getting better so that's one uplifting fact to keep in mind.
I decided to try these pink peppercorn macarons that I saw in a Macaron cookbook I recently purchased. I used my own macaron recipe but added some ground pink peppercorns to them. So strange! I've never worked with pink peppercorns before and I can't say I'm a fan of the smell... But they looked gorgeous all speckled in the shells and weren't too strongly spicy. It left a nice aftertaste of spice.
The filling is a pink grapefruit white chocolate ganache. I had never bought a grapefruit before this recipe, shocking, I know. I just knew the fruit to be very bitter and didn't bother with them. But the accompaniment of white chocolate makes the flavor of grapefruit more than bearable. The fruit's essence is still unmistakably there, the white chocolate adding a sweet edge.
These were part of the box I took to DC and Baltimore for my friends and they were devoured very quickly, just the way macarons ought to be.
Pink Peppercorn Macarons
100g egg whites
35g granulated sugar
120g almond meal
200g powdered sugar
pink food coloring gel or powder
4g of ground pink peppercorns (to sprinkle on top)
Beat the egg whites with a hand-held electric mixer. When the egg whites get frothy, add in the granulated sugar. When the egg whites and the sugar have combined and turned white, add in the food coloring and beat on high until stiff peaks. You should be able to hold the bowl over your head and it shouldn't budge.
Sift in the almond meal and powdered sugar and use a spatula to stir the ingredients in. Stir around and into the bowl sort of like drawing the letter "J". Stir until just combined, leaving no streaks of powder and when the batter falls thickly from the spatula and settles back down into the bowl.
Fill a piping bag with a round tip, full with batter. Hold the bag perpendicular to your baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silpat mat and pipe one-inch circles, leaving space for them to spread.
After they're all piped, lift the baking sheet and drop it to the table, about 6 inches in the air... You need to remove any air bubbles and don't be afraid to whack the pan on the table if necessary! Then let them sit out for 30 minutes to an hour, until they look dry on top.
Preheat oven to 285 degrees F. Bake for 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. I use a wooden spatula to prop the door open to prevent humidity but that varies oven to oven.
Let cool before trying to remove the macarons from the baking sheet and bend the sheet to pick them up instead of directly picking up each macaron, or expect to have half your macarons in your hand with the other half snug on the sheet.
White Chocolate Grapefruit Ganache
(Makes more than you need but I like having leftovers)
14oz white chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp grapefruit zest (6g) from 1 grapefruit
4 pink peppercorns
1 tbs butter, soft
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
Place the white chocolate either in your food processor or in a heat-safe bowl.
Bring the cream, grapefruit zest and peppercorns to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
Remove from heat and let the mixture infuse for 10 minutes.
Strain out the zest and peppercorns and reheat to a boil.
Immediately pour the mixture over the chocolate.
Wait one minute and then stir or blend in the food processor until smooth.
Add the grapefruit juice and the vanilla extract while stirring or blending.
Let the ganache cool at room temperature until it's pipeable.
Use a small spoon to scoop out some of the ganache; if it holds a ball-like shape, it's ready.
It lasts a week in the fridge.