Praline Macaron Recipe from the Loire Valley
Macarons aren’t only delicious, but they’re also a beautiful dessert, one that often graces tables around France come the holiday season (and all year round for that matter). They can be used as part of other desserts, like a Buche de Noel (Christmas log) or enjoyed all on their own. While they may take some time to master, they’re well worth it… and the pastry chef of Le Calabash in France’s Loire Valley is superb at crafting all sorts of flavorful macarons.
Here’s just one of her favorite recipes come the holiday season!
- 55 g (just under 2 oz) egg whites, aged 4-5 days
- 55 g egg white, aged 4-5 days
- 75 g (about 2 3/4 oz) ground almonds
- 75 g ground hazelnuts
- 150 g (just over 5 1/4 oz) icing sugar
- 150 g caster sugar
- 37 g (1 1/4 fl oz) mineral water
- 30 g (just over 1 oz) hazelnuts, roasted and skins removed
Praline Filling Ingredients
- 125 g (almost 4 1/2 oz) whole hazelnuts
- 20 g (3/4 fl oz) mineral water
- 75 g (about 2 3/4 oz) caster sugar
- 1/2 vanilla pod
- 125 g (just over 8 tbs and 1 tsp) Lescure butter at room temp
- 50 g (1 3/4 oz) egg white, aged for 4-5 days
- 80 g (just over 2 3/4 oz) caster sugar
- 20 g (3/4 fl oz) mineral water
1. Start by making the macaron cookies. To do this, line your baking sheets with flat parchment paper and set aside.
2. Sift together the ground almonds and hazelnuts along with the icing sugar.
3. To the bowl of ground almonds/hazelnuts/icing sugar, add the first quantity of aged egg whites; do NOT stir.
4. Meanwhile, bring the sugar and water to a boil (at 118°C/250°F). When the syrup reaches 112°C, in a separate bowl, start whisking the second quantity of aged eggs until they form soft peaks.
5. When the sugar/water reaches 118°C, pour it over the egg whites, whisk, and allow the meringue to cool down to 40°C (100°F).
6. Mix together the meringue with the icing sugar and ground nuts using a spatula.
7. Then work on the mixture with your spatula (macaronner) by moving your spatula in small circles, and going back and forth to press out any oxygen from the whites. This should only be done for a few minutes until it’s become smooth. The result should be a soft mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the surface.
8. Move this mixture to a piping bag with a plain nozzle (the chef recommends number 7). Pipe out your macaron rounds into the size you prefer by pressing the nozzle down on the paper and then finishing with a flourish to obtain a nice round. Be sure to leave enough space between each round as they tend to space out during baking.
9. Lightly sprinkle the macarons with some crushed roasted hazelnuts.
10. Allow the macarons to set for about 30 minutes, so they produce “feet.” While you wait, preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). You’ll know they’re ready for the oven when they feel cooked to the touch.
11. Bake the macarons for about 12 minutes in the center of the oven. The chef recommends opening the oven both at 8 minutes and 10 minutes to allow out the steam.
12. When they’re done baking, remove and allow them to cool before carefully peeling them off the parchment paper with a palette knife. Next, lay the discs in one row flat side down, and one row flat side up.
13. Now time for the filling. Start by making the caramelized hazelnuts; to do this, place the whole hazelnuts in a preheated 170°C oven and roast for about 15 minutes. After removing the nuts from the oven, roll them around in a wide mesh sieve to remove the skins.
14. Bring the 20g of water to a boil with the 75g of sugar as well as the split vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out. When the syrup reaches 121°C, it’s time to add the warm hazelnuts.
15. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir until the sugar looks like sand, then return to the heat. Allow the nuts to caramelize, all while stirring constantly until the caramel turns a deep amber color.
16. Pour the hazelnuts out onto a silpat, then remove the vanilla pod and allow the nuts to cool. Crush them finely to obtain caramelized ground hazelnuts.
17. Using your electric mixer, whisk the egg whites to form peaks. Meanwhile, you can bring the 20gams of water to boil along with 80 grams of sugar. Once again, when the sugar reaches 121°C, pour the egg whites over the sugar and whisk until the meringue has cooled down.
18. In another bowl, beat the butter for 5 minutes using a paddle attachment. Then add in the caramelized ground hazelnuts, just a little at a time. Beat again for 5 minutes.
19. Very carefully add a third of the meringue to the praline and then add in the rest, folding it gently together.
20. Spoon the praline into a piping bag, and then pipe a generous serving of filling onto each upturned shell. Place its partner macron on top using a circular motion to gently squash the shell down onto the filling.
21. Store in the fridge for a few hours, and then bring back to room temp to serve.
By Liz Hall
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