I became aware of ruby chocolate when I was watching The Great British Baking Show. A contestant was baking biscuits [cookies] using ruby chocolate. Paul Hollywood, one of the judges, proclaimed that the new chocolate “has a nice kick to it.”
Around this time, one of my baking buddies on Facebook posted a photo of her ruby chocolate truffles. Nancy Hoekman, the owner of Fancy Nancy Bites, is a talented baker and the photo she posted of her lovely pink truffles sparked my interest in trying the chocolate.
I could trawl the search engines for days upon days, or I could buy some and find out for myself how great it tasted and what I could concoct with it.
The best option was to buy it in bar form and order some wafers [callets] online. I called Trader Joe’s to find out if it was in stock and was informed that it had been discontinued, but I could buy it on Amazon.
Callebaut, the company that is in charge of distributing ruby chocolate had many lovely photos on their website and was proud to point out that: “More than 10 years ago, one of our cocoa experts discovered that components of certain cocoa beans could produce a cacao taste experience with an exceptional flavor and color. Since then, we’ve been unraveling the secret behind this, leading to the discovery of the ruby cocoa bean and creation of a totally new flavor experience. Like grapes for fine wines, cocoa beans are influenced by the terroir in which they grow. Ruby cocoa beans grow under unique climate conditions and can be found in Ecuador, Brazil or Ivory Coast. Ruby contains no added flavors or colors.”
What did I make with this big 5.5-pound bag of ruby red chocolate? Scroll down and check out my book trailer!
THE FIRST BOOK ABOUT RUBY CHOCOLATE!
Ruby Chocolate: A Beginner’s Guide includes ten original and tested recipes using authentic ruby chocolate. From healthy granola bars to tasty ruby chocolate chip cookies to decadent fudge, chocolate lovers will be inspired to create their own desserts. The reader also receives gift packaging ideas and lots of resources.
Before baking the macarons, I sifted the almond flour three times and poured it into an airtight container. Now, every time I make macarons, I only have to sift the flour and powdered sugar together once, and whisk the two ingredients in a bowl and set it aside. So much sifting is done to ensure that your shells are smooth and shiny.
When I whipped the [room temperature] egg whites, I added the pinch of salt with the granulated sugar at the foamy midway point. Four minutes later, I had that satiny texture of egg whites that had reached their peak. Then I added two drops of pink gel for a baby pink color.
The flour/sugar mixture was added in two stages and this time I counted how many times it was folded: 63. The texture was just right and I was cautiously optimistic, as I poured the batter into the piping bag. My first few macarons were round and all was going well until I felt something wet on my hand. Ooops, I’d been holding the bag wrong and it was leaking out the top. But I kept at it and wound up with a grand total of 52 shells.
30 minutes later, the macarons went into a 300-degree oven. Instead of using the center rack, I opted to use the one just below it. This time I turned the tray eight minutes into the baking. There they were: FEET!
They baked for 19 minutes and when I pulled the tray out I saw 26 macarons shells with feet. I did a happy dance, and added the second tray. Meanwhile, I began making the “lemonade” buttercream filling. Actually, it was flavored with Trader Joe’s lemon curd. I used the strawberry buttercream recipe and substituted lemon curd for the strawberry jam.
All was going well until I added the powdered sugar. It flew out of the bowl, on the counter, stove, floor, me…the bowl was too small! Next time I’d mix the softened butter first until creamy and then very slowly add the powdered sugar. More time consuming but no cloudbursts of sugar that way.
Due to using naturally yellow butter and lemon curd, I didn’t need to add color, but I did: 5 drops which didn’t significantly change the color. The taste was a sweet and tart blend that I adored. If you adore lemon, try the following recipe. Let me know how it turns out and feel free to ask any questions or make any comments!
Pink Lemonade Macaron Shells
1 cup powdered sugar [confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar]
¾ cup almond flour [sift 3 times]
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 egg whites [room temperature]
2 drops pink gel colorant
Pinch of salt
Serving size: 52 shells or 26 macarons [approximately]
Stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment
2 – 4 large baking sheets
Parchment paper or silpat mat
Large sieve or flour sifter
Pastry/piping bag with large round tip
Measuring cups/spoons/stainless steel or glass bowls
Silicone or rubber spatula
Large cup or glass to hold piping bag
* Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. If the sheets are thin, double them up. Macarons are sensitive to heat so they need to be baked on a durable tray that has lots of insulation. You’ll also need a pastry/piping bag with a large round tip ready before you begin.
* Sift powdered sugar with the almond flour. Large grains that don’t make it through can be thrown away or used as a skin exfoliator. I discovered this when I washed the equipment by hand the first time!
* Whisk the sugar and flour to make sure it’s fully blended.
* In a stainless steel or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy like a bubble bath before adding the salt. Then add granulated sugar in 3 batches. Start at a low speed and gradually increase the speed. When finished, the mixture should have stiff peaks. Add color last, but only whip for the briefest amount of time to mix in the color.
* Add dry ingredients to the meringue in 2 batches using a spatula. Fold until the mixture comes together, scraping the sides and flip batter over. When the sugar/flour mixture is blended, the batter will be easier to mix and will look shiny. Lift the spatula and see how quickly batter falls in “ribbons” from the spatula. A ribbon of batter dropped into the bowl should merge with the rest of the batter in 20-30 seconds. Another test is to “write” the number 8 with the batter.
* Add tip to piping bag and then twist near the bottom to prevent any mixture from escaping. The tip should face upwards and that also helps keep the mixture in the piping bag as you place it in a cup and form a cuff over the rim so it’s easy to add the batter.
* Spoon batter into piping bag. Twist the top of the bag and untwist the bottom, gently pushing the just-poured batter toward the bottom. You’ll remove any excess air that way.
* Pipe the batter onto the parchment or silicone mat. With parchment, you can use a template. Stay inside the lines as the batter will spread and flatten a bit.
* Pipe batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1.5-inch circles.Keep the batter inside circles if using a template.
* Rap baking sheet several times on the counter. This will further flatten the macarons, and remove air bubbles.
* Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
* Allow macarons to sit for 30-60 minutes until a film forms. Lightly touch a macaron and if no batter clings to your finger then it’s dry and ready to be baked.
* Bake for 16 -18 minutes. The tops should be firm and glossy and the bottoms of the shells should have formed “feet” or frills at the bottom. The risen macarons should be firm with the slightest amount of give. If it wobbles, they require another minute or so. When done, the cookies can easily be removed from the parchment.
* Remove from oven, place cookie sheet on a wire rack or flat surface and let cool completely.
Lemon Curd Buttercream Filling
1/4 cup softened butter [use a high quality butter like President or Kerrygold]
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar [confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar]
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons lemon curd
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
5 or so drops yellow gel color [optional]
Whip butter for about 2 minutes before adding some of the powdered sugar. Add the cream, lemon curd and vanilla. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar until the filling is the desired consistency. Add colorant last.
Pair the shells according to size. Spoon or pipe filling onto one side. Gently add the other side. If using a piping bag, start in the center by doing a swirl until you reach near the edges but not right at the edges. You don’t want to overfill them and make a mess with leaking buttercream filling. Gently add the top shell and give it a twist of about a quarter turn to make sure the shells are nicely lined up.
Store your macarons in an airtight container and put in the refrigerator. They should last about a week. Macarons taste best at room temperature, so remove from the fridge about an hour beforehand.
I’d never tried a macaron until three years ago, just after I wrote the first draft of my novella, Sweet Dreams. As the cliché goes, it was love at first bite. As I’m working on part 4 of the Yolanda’s Yummery Series, Macarons of Love, I needed to reacquaint myself with the sweet delicacies. I looked forward to tasting the fragile, crispy and chewy cookies.
When one of my friends said he was going to Miami, I sent him some money along with the address of the Laduree shop in Miami Beach. I’d read about it online, learning it was only the third location in America to boast such a prestigious shop. New York City is blessed with two of these stores, but 1000 miles away, a tiny Laduree shop also sells these delectable sweets. I studied the menu and decided to get the 8-pack, enabling me to try a variety of the imported French cookies.
From the seafoam green bag to the adorable cat and butterfly box, the presentation was perfect.
Here are my opinions on the flavors I tasted.
Lemon [Citron]. Of course, the bright yellow is the visual clue that this is a lemon macaron. It had that sweet and tangy lemony aroma and taste. A must-have if you love anything citrusy, especially anything as bright as Laduree’s lemon.
I have tried Vanilla [Vanille] macarons in the past when I bought a box of Trader Joe’s brand Trader Jacque’s a la Parissiene. This box contains 6 chocolate and 6 vanilla. Naturally, I liked them. I especially liked the fact that they cost about five bucks for a dozen – a lot less than Laduree. However, I prefer the richness of the vanilla bean-laden macaron from Laduree. It seemed fuller and richer in flavor.
Orange Blossom [Fleur d’Oranger] is succulent orange with a hint of floral. Not a brightly colored orange, it resembled the vanilla macaron. Very lovely and I could eat eight of them — just not at one time!
Salted Caramel [Caramel a la Fleur de Sel]. Smuckers makes a caramel topping that’s supposed to go on ice cream. Sometimes it goes onto a spoon and right into my mouth–bypassing the ice cream. This macaron had that sweetly scrumptious filling [third from bottom on the left in the photo]. It was hard not to consume it in just one big bite.
The Lemon Verbena [Verveine Citron] was exquisite. The green undertone separated it from its sister lemon macaron. Highly recommended.
Rose Petal [Petale de Rose]. I had a sneaking suspicion that it would taste sugary and rosy and I was right. It was like eating something perfumed rather than flavored. There weren’t any rose petal bits on top. I’ve bathed in a rose Lush Tisty Tosty bath bomb and this was like eating it, minus the fizz. Honestly, I prefer to wear the scent of the rose petal; not consume it.
Raspberry [Framboise] a bit of the filling had seeped from between the shells. When I bit into it, the entire shell spread open and cracked into different sized pieces. Perhaps some moisture had gotten in the shells? Also, the jam innards were much heavier than the shell. The taste was a 10 out of 10.
Chocolate [Chocolat]. This macaron is dark chocolate with a lovely ganache filling. This lightweight macaron is fluffy but not overly so, filled with a generous amount of the finest ganache. It’s not a milk chocolate but a semi sweet chocolate. I’d peg it at the classic 70% cacao content. It’s like a truffle inside of a macaron. Is it worth $2.80 for a few bites? YES!
I can describe the macarons as succulent, delectable, luxurious, decadent and use even more exclamatory adjectives, but I won’t, because I think you get that I love macarons and enjoy sharing my feelings about them. If you’re a fan of sweets, I suggest that you try them. I’d recommend eating them at room temperature. They’ll last about 3 days unrefrigerated. Refrigeration can mask the taste. However, I’ve never had macarons around long enough to chill in the fridge!
Macarons and sweet dreams? Yes, the two go together quite well. Macarons are sweet and somewhat crispy little cookies that can be filled with butter cream or chocolate ganache or various types of jams. They’re usually made with almond flour and are gluten-free. Macarons are often quite colorful, as you know if you’ve seen them. My opinion is that they’re the best kind of dessert—small and delicate. Fancy but not outrageously so. Yes, I’m so fond of macarons that I’m including mention of them in my sweet romance/cozy mystery,Macarons of Love: The Yolanda’s Yummery Series, Book 4.
But what started it all was a romance novella I wrote called Sweet Dreams. Brenda Nevins, the main character, is a romance author/baker. Although the macarons part isn’t at the beginning of the story, these tempting little cookies do have a costarring role. During the writing of the ebook, I got obsessed with macarons. I read several cookbooks on how to make them, visited numerous websites, and sampled quite a few tasty macarons. I bought some online and even tried the Trader Joe’s version[s] which were easy to store as they went from frozen to just right in about 30 minutes.
It was a tough job, but I gutted [pun intended!] my way through it.
And now, I’ll be revisiting macaron-land for the next few months while I write my book. But that’s fine with me. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to these fine sweet treats. This board has 5000+ pictures and recipes. Check it out!http://www.pinterest.com/lisamaliga/sweet-macarons