Pierre Hermé’s Macaron Mogador
Haven’t made macarons in quite a while now. I think I need to make it a point to go through it periodically. Macs are so temperamental and finicky that one can never be really sure he’s gotten them right. Going feetless, erupted tops, burnt shells, soggy bottoms are just some of the ways they would throw tantrums and get back at us in “silent protest” for the neglect and being all assuming with the “if you think you know me, well you don’t!” So drama huh? Well… ask a macaron maker and I’m pretty sure that he would have his own version of “Tales of Mac Macabre” to tell.
“Mogador” is an immensely popular macaron flavour in Pierre Hermé’s patisseries all over Paris and Tokyo, only to be very quickly mimicked by bakers and macaron makers all over the world. The pairing of milk chocolate with passionfruit juice is indeed quite amazing! I’d made it a few months back and thought it would be good to fine-tune it a bit this time round to suit my own tastebuds. Afterall, macarons flavours can take both ends of the spectrum, being highly generic with your run-in-the-mill chocolate, strawberry or vanilla, or being highly personal, so as to satisfy one’s idiosyncracies and quirks for what one deems as a pleasurable palate experience.
Dusting the drying shells with cocoa powder, doing it so ever gingerly…
In the past, the use of milk chocolate was generally frowned upon in the art of pastry making. The last thing classical patissiers (read: purists) would want, is to be associated with a cadbury bar. Then Pierre Hermé came along and basically threw quite a few things out of the window, tearing down long withstanding pinnacles of traditional pastry making and revolutionising the craft. While he’s better known as the Picasso of pastry-making, I kinda like to think of him as a “Derrida“.
Plaisir Sucré, one of his signatures alongside the Ispahan, shocked (and shook!) the french culinary circle when it was first conceptualised, with the bold use of milk chocolate. Lo and behold, that freaking little piece actually worked! Now in retrospect, Pierre Hermé was probably taking an enormous risk there, putting himself in a “make or break” kinda situation. What’s life without one of these things that make you sit tightly on the edge of the chair yeah?
Macaron Mogador is an extension of such risk-taking moments, the amalgamation of chocolate with passionfruit. I presume that Pierre Hermé must have picked up this trait during his stint at Lenôtre. Afterall, his mentor Monsieur Gaston was well-known for his ingenuity of incorporating exotic fruits into pastry-making. The late gentleman would have been proud to see how his protégé has inherited this passion and pushed its limits making it literally borderless!
Valrhona’s dutch-processed cocoa powder… crème de la crème
- For Macaron Shell
- 300g ground almond
- 300g icing sugar
- 110g ‘liquefied’ egg whites
- 5g lemon yellow food coloring
- 0.5g red food coloring ( or ½ tsp ) (I omitted both and used Wilton’s yellow food coloring instead)
- For Italian meringue
- 300g sugar
- 75g water
- 110g ‘liquefied’ egg whites
- For Ganache
- 100g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 550g Valrhona Chocolate Jivara ( 40% cocoa solid )
- 10 passion fruits ( need 250g passion fruit juice )
- To finish
- Cocoa powder
- Sift icing sugar with ground almond to make “tant pour tant”
- Stir the food coloring in the first portion of egg white and pour over the sugar-almond mixture without mixing
- Boil water and sugar to 118°C
- Once the syrup is at 115°C, simultaneously start whisking second egg whites to soft peaks
- When the sugar reached 118°C, pour it over the egg whites little by little. Whisk and allow the meringue to cool to 50°C, then fold it into the ground almond-sugar mixture.
- Spoon the batter into a piping bad fitted with a plain nozzle.
- Pipe rounds of batter about 3.5 cm in diameter and spacing them 2 cm apart on baking trays lined with parchment paper.
- Rap the baking trays gently on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth.
- With a sieve, sprinkle the shells with a light dusting of cocoa powder
- Leave the shells to stand for at least 30 minutes until they form a skin.
- Preheat oven to 180°C and put the tray into the oven and bake for 12 min quickly opening and shutting the oven door twice during the cooking time. Our of the oven, slide the shells on to the work surface.
- Do not remove from the sheet until they are completely cooled
- Cut butter into pieces. Chop the chocolate with a serrated knife.
- Halve the passion fruitand scoop out the pulp and strain to obtain 250g of juice.
- Weigh the juice and take it to a boil.
- Partially melt the chopped chocolate in a saucepan over a pan of barely simmering water (bain marie). Pour in juice 3 times over the chocolate
- When the mixture temperature is at 60°C, add the butter pieces a few at a time. Stir until the ganache is smooth.
- Pour into a dish. Cover the ganache by pressing clingfilm over the surface. Set aside in the fridge for the ganache to thicken.
- Pour the ganache into a pastry bag and use a plain nozzle.
- Pipe a generous mould of ganache on to half of the shells. Top with remaining shells.
- Store the macarons for 24 hours in the fridge and bring out 2 hours before serving.
The recipe mentioned to dust the shells with cocoa powder after piping and then leaving them to dry. I basically reversed the order, i.e. leaving the shells to dry in an air-conditioned room for about 20 min or so before dusting on the cocoa powder and the logical is simple. The consistency of the batter depends on a myriad of factors, initial moisture levels of ingredients (especially the egg whites), the cooking process of making the sucre le cuit, macaronnage technique are just some probable causes. The batter would have a greater tendency to spread if its on the thin and runny side after (overdone) macaronnage. Dusting cocoa powder on the freshly piped shells would have two consequences. (1) the cocoa powder would dampen and become smudgy as the batter spreads. But its just a matter of aesthetics. (2) the cocoa powder absorbs moisture from the shells and affects the drying process. For me, the latter would be detrimental.
While some might advocate the redundancy of drying the shells after piping, this is a crucial step for me. For them, it has probably got to do with a modification to their oven technique, e.g. turning on the oven to a high temperature of 200°C and then turning it off quickly once the baking trays are in for 8-10 min for the drying of shell tops and formation of feet, before starting up the oven again at a lower temperature, i.e. 140-160°C. This “rapid drying” method works well too and saves one the hassle of drying them out over the kitchen surface and more importantly, time. This is especially good if one needs to bake large batches of macarons at one go. Try both methods and be your own judge to see whichever works for you better. For me it has to be the “al naturale” one.
Trickling boiled passionfruit juice over the melted chocolate while mixing thoroughly at the same time. This prevents the melted chocolate from seizing with the additional moisture incorporated.
Making sure that the ganache runs smooth and glossy before cooling it down.
Macaron Mogador anyone?