I often wonder what could be characterized as a typical Greek flavor in pastry; and I usually come to the conclusion that yogurt and honey make a pair that many could consider as a classically Greek. So if I make a panna cotta with Greek yogurt and honey, would people think that this Italian dessert has a Greek twist? I can’t judge but it definitely tasted good. Since I have started this ‘alchemy’ of turning famous desserts into Greek with the addition of yogurt and honey, I have discovered that French macarons lend themselves to the treatment!
The first time I ever saw macaron was five or six years ago when I started reading food blogs and came across the blog Tartelette. I remember how beautiful they looked in the pictures. Then I tried them in a pastry shop in Athens and was sure I should try making them myself. My research on the internet showed that macarons are more or less the ‘’Holy Grail’’ of every avid food blogger and I decided I needed one more cooking book, this time one specializing on the macaron. Pierre Herme’s ''Macarons'' proved the ideal master class on macarons since he is world famous for all those incredible and unique flavors. Pierre Herme uses the Italian meringue method which has proven to be almost foolproof in my case.
Now I had to create a Greek yogurt ganache since I couldn’t find any reference on the internet and it turned out that it was a very good idea. The sweetness of the white chocolate is balanced by the mild sour taste of yogurt, creating a very interesting ganache but, this time, with a Greek character.
Greek yogurt macaron, with a honey core
For the macaron shells
Makes 20 macarons (40 shells)
106 gr blanched almonds, powdered
106 gr confectioners’ sugar
40 gr egg whites
115gr granulated sugar
70 gr water
45 gr egg whites
( 1Tsp of finely grated walnuts for decoration)
First: the almond batter: In a bowl mix together powdered almonds, confectioners’ sugar and 40gr of egg whites to create a paste. Set aside.
Now for the Italian meringue: In a saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, add granulated the sugar and water and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile in the bowl of an electric mixer start whipping the 45gr of egg whites until they form soft peaks.
When the temperature of the boiling syrup reaches 120 C, pour it over the meringue in the mixer bowl and immediately start whipping again until the temperature of the Italian meringue drops to about 50 C.
Now take spoonfuls of Italian meringue and mix it with the almond batter until all the meringue has gradually been incorporated in the almond batter. The trick with macarons is in this mixing stage. Very carefull and light mixing could lead to fluffy and/or cracked shells, whereas over mixing the batter could remove a lot of air leading to flat shells. Your macaron experience will guide you in this process in the future. Don’t be disappointed if your shells fail in shape; they still taste as good.
In a baking pan lined with baking paper, and using a pastry bag with a plain tip, pipe round macarons the size you prefer.
I sketched 3 cm round shapes (as many as I want macaron halves) on a paper I then placed underneath the baking paper and used them as a guide in order to get a uniform size!
Sprinkle half of the shells with grated walnuts for decoration.
Bake the macarons in a preheated oven (fan) at 160 C for 13-15min. They should be dry outside but still be moist inside. Only one baking pan at a time.
Remove the pan with the baked macarons and let them cool completely before you carefully remove them from the baking paper and fill them with ganache and honey jelly.
For the ganache:
150gr white chocolate
100gr Greek yogurt
In a microwave-safe bowl, break the chocolate in pieces, add the milk and microwave them for 20sec at maximum heat. The object here is a silky ganache so the process may need repeating. Remove from the oven and mix with a rubber spatula to check the degree to which the chocolate has melted. Remove the spatula from the bowl and return the bowl to the oven for 20sec more. Remove from the oven again, mix with the spatula and if a silky ganache has not been created yet, repeat the 20sec microwaving once more. Different microwave ovens can give different results, so take it slowly with just 20sec at a time to be on the safe side and not burn your chocolate.
Take a teaspoonful of yogurt and mix it vigorously in the still hot ganache. Once incorporated add one more teaspoonful of yogurt to the ganache and mix again. Repeat until all the yogurt has incorporated. Let stand in the fridge for half an hour or until set and ready to fill your macaron.
If you make the ganache the day before, remove it from the fridge an hour before you use it to bring it to room temperature and thus easier for you to fill your macaron.
For honey jelly:
This should actually be made first because the jelly needs to be refrigerated for a couple of hours to set and be easier to cut in pieces.
40gr boiling water
3gr gelatin sheets
Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5min. Remove the gelatin from the cold water and put it in a bowl. Pour boiling water over the gelatin and mix to dilute. Once diluted add the honey and mix to incorporate. Line a rectangular 20x10cm (approximatel) bowl with cling film and pour the honey mixture in the bowl and refrigerate until very firm.
Take half a teaspoonful of ganache and place it on a macaron shell. Place a 1x1cm piece of honey jelly over the ganache and over this jelly pour another half teaspoonful of ganache. Sandwich with another macaron shell. Done!!! Repeat the process until you’ve made about 20 macarons.
Honestly it took me much more time to write about this than actually make it !!!
Don’t be scared, macarons are just one more nice sweet little bite.