It was one of my grandma's birthday this past week. Every time I remember celebrating Grandma's birthday, I remember German Chocolate Cake. I use to help my mom make the cake, but once I was old enough (and once the baking bug truly took hold), I often was allowed to make the cake all by myself. I even made an ENORMOUS multiple layer full-sheet-pan-sized German Chocolate Cake for Grandma's 80th birthday. What an undertaking that was!
The German Chocolate Cake recipe I use to use (taken right from the box of Bakers' Sweet German Chocolate) is a more labor intensive cake (or as I like to think of it, a labor of love). The cake alone takes many bowls and tools. Then, the traditional coconut pecan icing takes more time (and dishes) while being cooked on the stove.
This weekend, My family is having a party for Grandma at my parents' house. Lots of family & friends will be there to celebrate. I, however, will be celebrating from afar. I wanted to make something to commemorate the occasion. Something that would remind me specifically of Grandma's Birthdays.
I didn't want to specifically make a traditional German Chocolate Cake. While brainstorming what to make, I looked at the ingredients I had on hand, saw my container of almond flour in the freezer & immediately thought of macarons! I can't believe I have not done more macaron posts, because they are one of my most favorite pastry items to make. And it had been way, way too long since I had made any. I settled on chocolate macarons with the same coconut pecan filling used in traditional German Chocolate Cake.
These macarons are similar, but different to the inspiration cake. They're not quite as rich (though still every bit as sweet). You still get to taste the cocoa and caramel-y/coconut-y/pecan-y flavor of the filling. They're probably not something my Grandma would make, though she would probably eat them :)
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the macaron shells took
2 egg whites, and the filling took the 2 yolks.
I love it when things work out that way :)
CHOCOLATE MACARON SHELLS
Yields about 16 sandwiched macarons, depending on size.
81 g Almond Flour (not meal)
138 g Confectioners' Sugar12 g Cocoa Powder (I ALWAYS use Hershey's Special Dark cocoa for Macarons because it is a mix of natural & dutch process cocoa)
Pinch Sea Salt
64 g (approximately 2) Egg Whites, room temp
21 g Granulated Sugar
3 g Meringue Powder
1. Prepare a piping bag fitted with a round tip (like an #804). Line 1 half sheet pan with parchment or a silpat. If using parchment, dry guide circles, if you like.
2. Combine the Almond flour, Confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz to combine the mixture & make the particles smaller. Sift the mixture into a bowl.
3. In a very clean stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed just until frothy. In a separate small bowl, combine the granulated sugar & meringue powder. The grains of sugar will help ensure the meringue powder does not get clumpy.
4. Once the whites are frothy, reduce the speed of the mixer and sprinkle in the sugar/meringue powder mixture. Turn the speed back up to high & beat until the meringue forms stiff peaks.
5. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. Work quickly & fold only until the mixture forms a shiny mass & will hold ribbons. Remember you can always fold more, but you can't take back folds!
6. Test pipe a little of the mixture onto your prepared pan. If the mixture, once piped, holds a peak (like a hershey's kiss) that won't dissipate when you bang the sheet pan on your counter, fold the macaron batter a little bit more before piping again. When the mixture reaches the proper consistency, pipe all of the shells.
7. Allow the macarons to sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to develop a skin on top. This drying process greatly depends on the humidity of the day. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F.
8. Once the macarons have their skin, slide the pan into the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 300 F. Bake the macarons for 9 minutes, then rotate the pan & bake for an additional 9 to 12 minutes, or until the macarons can be nearly peeled off the pan. The residual pan heat once the macarons are removed from the oven will finish the baking process.
9. Allow the macarons to cool completely before filling & refrigerating.
COCONUT PECAN FILLING
(adapted from Leite's Culinaria)
This will make more filling than you need for the macarons, but you really can't reduce the filling any further (or it become a little difficult to cook on the stove).
2 egg yolks
5 oz can of Evaporated Milk
3.5 oz Granulated Sugar
0.9 oz Brown Sugar
1.5 oz unsalted Butter
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3.5 oz Sweetened Coconut
2.75 oz Pecans, chopped (I prefer to chop the pecans myself rather than purchase chopped nuts, because I feel they have better flavor)
1. If you haven't already, chop your pecans into very small pieces. Combine the pecans and coconut in a medium size bowl.
2. In a stainless steel saucepan, whisk together the yolks and evaporated milk. Add the sugars, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils & thickens. This process will take approximately 3 minutes (for a batch this small).
3. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the vanilla. Pour the thickened mixture over the coconut & pecans. Stir to combine.
4. Chill the mixture, either over an ice bath or in the refrigerator, until it cools and thickens a little further.
5. Place the mixture into a piping bag (no tip, just in case the filling clogs) & pipe the filling onto the bottom of a macaron. Top with a second macaron & refrigerate a few hours before serving.