For a special birthday last Tuesday (happy birthday Bev!) I made a gluten-free coffee and walnut cake with a coffee buttercream, water-ganache rosettes, fresh walnuts, and coffee-and-walnut macarons (also filled with the water-ganache). I used Nigella’s recipe (found here x), with a few little tweaks such as using gluten-free self-raising flour, and using more coffee granules.
Firstly, the shells.
I wanted to try making these coffee and walnut macaron shells using ground walnuts instead of the traditional ground almonds, to inject flavour into the actual shells if I could get away with it! I was pretty worried about messing up the moisture content, as I didn’t know how ‘oily’ walnuts were compared to almonds, but the macarons actually turned out soo delicious. I got amazing feedback all around, and the extras disappeared pretty fast!
**When I ground down the walnuts and sifted them, I actually left behind about 23g of (too lumpy) walnuts, which I couldn’t be bothered to grind down again, and so left them out**
The macarons turned out pretty ‘crunchy’, for a macaron, due to the more ‘meringue’ ratio and less of the nuts than I would have liked, but they still had their soft, chewy middle, so I didn’t mind too much. However, they definitely could have taken more nuts, no problem. I’ll have to experiment with how much more they can take in the future.
- egg whites
- icing sugar
- caster sugar
- ground walnuts
- instant coffee granules
- boiling water
- dark chocolate (65% or darker is preferable)
- instant coffee granules
1 : 1 : 1.25 : 1.25
egg white : caster sugar : icing sugar : ground walnuts
(1 tsp of coffee granules, and 1 tsp of boiling water to dissolve it in for every 1 egg white)
Use your common sense here – if your mixture looks too wet to take more coffee, leave some out!
I like to work with ratio when it comes to macarons. For example, the weights I used for this recipe were:
- 77g egg whites (2 large egg whites)
- 77g caster sugar
- 96g icing sugar, sifted
- 96 – 23g = 73g ground walnuts, sifted **see above asterix**
- 2 tsp coffee granules dissolved in 2 tsp boiling water
1 : 3
water : chocolate
+ instant coffee granules in boiling water (approx 1 1/2 tbsp for every 50g water used. If you want it less intense, as this will be very strong & intensify the chocolate further, use less)
Ensure you have good quality dark chocolate. There’s no cream here to ‘lighten’ or ‘dilute’ the taste of the chocolate. If anything, the water intensifies the taste of the chocolate, so good quality chocolate is essential.
2 egg whites make approx 40 mini-macaron sandwiches (i.e. 80 individual shells). 100g chocolate is enough to fill these.
- Whisk egg whites until thick & stiff, and will (just) hold their form. Tip the bowl over your head to be extra sure! They shouldn’t budge.
- Whisk in the caster sugar SLOWLY. Add a tbsp at a time, and whisk until thoroughly combined, and glossy.
- Fold in the walnuts & icing sugar until combined.
- Dissolve 2 tsp of coffee granules in 2 tsp of boiling water, then fold into the mixture & combine.
- Pipe onto a lined tray. I piped mini-macarons (perhaps 2-3cm across).
- Drop the baking tray onto the counter from a height 2-3 times, then leave to rest for approx 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 150C. (My oven is very hot. If yours isn’t, turn it up to 160C.)
- Bake macarons for approx 15 minutes/until they have a very pale golden top. (If you make them more meringue-like, with less nuts, like me, then they should peel away from the paper cleanly.)
- Leave to cool. Meanwhile, make the ganache.
- Heat chocolate gently over a bain marie until almost melted. Take off the heat and set aside, allowing the chocolate to melt in the residual heat. Allow to cool to room temperature (but remain warm enough to stay melted).
- Heat water to a boil, and stir in the coffee granules. Then (and this may go against every baker’s instinct you have, but trust me on this one) pour gradually into your melted chocolate, stirring constantly. It’ll look gross and soupy for awhile, but keep the faith – keep stirring!
- Once combined, set aside to cool completely. It’ll thicken further once fully cooled.
- Fill your macarons with a small blob (you seriously don’t want to overfill these bad boys) of the ganache. Piping makes the job super easy.
I can’t tell you how many compliments I got from these – of all the hundreds of macarons I’ve made in my life, I don’t think I’ve every got feedback as good as this. The flavour combo is just insane! The walnuts give a really nice earthy bitter after-taste, counteracting the sweet shells, and the water-ganache makes them super indulgent, and leaves the palette clean afterwards because it has none of the usual fat that a cream-ganache would have. I still need to work on the batter consistency (i.e. not be lazy next time and properly stick to my ratio!), but all in all, this little experiment was a great success!