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Friday, October 21, 2011

Janine's Failed Macaron Cake aka a Flourless Chocolate Cake made with Maca-fails

I swear by the phrase "out of adversity comes creativity", not only because I am usually pushed by circumstances to think out of the box, but also because much of my (best) work is done when I'm facing a time crunch or other adverse situations. Just take today for example, I was craving ang koo kueh, a traditional glutinous rice treat filled with peanuts or mung beans, and since it was raining heavily and I couldn't go out, I decided that I should make myself some. And so I did. I did so even without the mould required for it, without the banana leaves, and without having peanuts/mung bean paste in the pantry. And it turned out quite successful I must say. I used baking paper and peanut butter as substitutes - creative no? ;p

Anyway, the cake below also stems from one of my 'creative' episodes. I have had many a failure with those dainty little things called macarons, and it's really a pain having to deal with them. This is because with pretty 'footed' macarons, I can gift them to various people, but with macarons that look like whoopie pies...well... let's just say taste is their only redeeming factor, which is sad because many people 'eat' with their eyes first. And the thing is, macarons are always hit-and-fail thing for me, I have as many successes as failures, which makes me hesitant every time I want to make macarons because I'm afraid of the results, or lack there of.

So after a particularly crazy streak of macaron baking which saw me using dozens of egg whites, I ended up with several pretty macarons and a hundred more feetless, shapeless macs. This meant that I had trays and trays of maca-fails, and being the thrifty person that I was, I didn't dump them in the trash right away. I really hate wasting food, so I stored them in airtight containers in the fridge, to the point that there were MANY such containers in the fridge, and my mom started nagging at me, asking me to get rid of them.

So what could I do?

This was when I put on the proverbial thinking cap. I knew that I could do verrines or Eton's mess with crushed macarons, but I'm not exactly a fan of sweet meringue and cream, so after having done it a few times, I had to resort to some other method of getting rid of these feetless horrors. I had always played with the idea of using them in a cake, and after a search on my trusty friend google, I found only one hit for 'failed macaron cake'. The unfortunate (or fortunate perhaps) thing was that the blogger there basically guess-timated her way through her own recipe, and didn't have any particular recipe for her macaron cake. I then deduced that if I pulverized the shells, I could probably replace any recipe which had ground almonds for them. And that was exactly what I did.

So I went about looking for a chocolate cake which made use of ground almonds, mainly because I had lots of chocolate flavored macarons. And as luck would have it, I landed upon Ju's Flourless Almond and Chocolate Cake, which I had bookmarked, a long time ago. If you read the recipe, you'll realize that it's pretty similar to the Queen of Sheba cake, made popular by Julia Child, but that has flour in it.

Anyway, I made a few liberal modifications to the recipe (like using the processor to make the cake), so do check out the original recipe if you're interested in the original cake!


Janine's Failed Macaron Cake (Flourless Almond & Chocolate Cake made with Powdered Macarons)
Adapted from Ju, who obtained it from Times Online 
Makes an 8-inch square cake

200g  dark chocolate (I used a mix of 55% and 70%)
15g    hot brewed coffee (or 1 tablespoon)
15g    rum (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
95g    caster sugar 
100g  unsalted butter
5        eggs, separated
¼ tsp salt
110g macaron shells

  1. Melt the chocolate, brewed coffee, rum and butter in the microwave or on a bain marie. Stir well to combine and allow to cool. 
  2. Place the macaron shells in a processor and blitz them for a minute, or until fine, like ground almonds. Do not over process. Add 70g of the sugar and salt into the processor and blitz for a few seconds to combine the ingredients. Next, add in the 5 egg yolks and process for about 5 seconds. Add in the chocolate mixture and process for 10 seconds, or until all the ingredients are well combined. Empty the mixture into a clean bowl. 
  3. In a metal mixing bowl, beat the egg whites together with the remaining 25g sugar, until you get stiff white peaks. 
  4. Take some of the egg whites (about 10% worth) and mix them into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. You don't need to be gentle with mixing this 10%. Once the egg white is completely mixed into chocolate mixture, gently fold in the rest of the egg whites into the lightened chocolate mixture. This time, making sure to gently fold to retain the air in the egg whites. 
  5. Line your cake tin with baking paper and lightly butter the sides. Pour in the cake mixture and give it a few raps on the counter to get rid of any unsightly air bubbles. 
  6. Bake at 170°C for about 40-50 minutes before removing it. If you want it more fudgey/moussey - bake it for about 40 minutes and your cake tester will come out slightly wet. If you want a more cake-like texture, bake for 50 minutes or more, and some crumbs will still adhere to your tester. 
  7. Cool it in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing it to cool on a wire rack. 

Janine's jots: 
  • BEWARE: I actually made 2 vital errors for this recipe - which accounts for the picture you see above - I used a dark-colored pan, and failed to reduce the baking temperature, which explains why the bottom of the cake is quite over-baked. As for the dense layer slightly above the bottom, that was because I was multitasking while beating my egg whites and I slightly overbeat them, to the point that it was almost turning clumpy :/ This was probably why the cake didn't rise to its requisite height. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the dense layer at the bottom of the cake, because it tasted almost fudgey, and very chocolatey, which was a perfect contrast against the airy cake on top! That being said, I'm not sure if these 2 problems were the result of the powdered macarons, but I doubt so. Anyway, I'll probably try this out again soon (I know I'll have more maca-fails to try them with) and see where I go with it.
  • Note: You should process the macaron shells when they are at room temperature so that they are less 'wet' and can be processed into powder more easily. Otherwise, you might get tiny clumps because of the moistness of the macarons. However, don't worry too much because these clumps will dissolve somewhat after baking (whee!) :]
  • Taste: Having made the original and the modified version, I do feel that there is not much difference in taste, except for the fact that the almonds are much more discernible in the original version. I'd probably use a mix of half almonds and half macarons in the next try to get the best of both worlds :] Do remember to reduce the amount of sugar by a little as well, because the macaron shells after all, are half sugar, and will contribute to the sweetness of the cake. 
  • Texture: The chocolate cake feels almost mousse-y (and tastes that way too), but has a cake-like crust (thanks to my slight over baking), which is a delight to dig into. The best word to describe it would be 'airy'. 
  • Modifications: I reduced the sugar from the original of 150g to 95g, because I took into account that the macarons were half sugar. I felt that the amount of sugar can be decreased further because the cake is still a tad sweet for my liking. My family liked the level of sweetness though. 
  • Storage: The cake does not store well at room temperature because of its gooeyness but they did very well in the refrigerator. Let it sit for a while at room temperature before consuming for the best texture, but even if you don't, it's still really good. I stored a slice in an airtight container for almost 2 weeks and it tasted as delicious (maybe a little drier) as it did when I just baked it. 
  • Would I make this again?: Definitely! Now that I know how to make use of the maca-fails, I have no reason to try and try again :] I'd also serve this with some icing sugar on top, to hide the unsightly cracks - note that this cake WILL sink! Just maybe not as much as mine did.

So there you have it - my secret recipe for disposing of maca-fails! Do try this recipe out if you too have many maca-fails and don't know what to do with them - it's a yummy, alternative way to dispose of them :] If you don't have failed macarons (i.e., all your macarons are perfect) - I hatecha! (I'm jesting!) - this is still a very yummy flourless chocolate cake to try nevertheless :)

Have a great weekend y'all!

PS: I found a new spot in my cramped apartment to take photos and I'm quite happy with the results :) I took these photos in a rather precarious position - balancing on two chairs with the cake placed on a stool which rested on top of my washing machine so that I could get the sun to the side of my cake! What do you think? 


WendyinKK said...

Great post!
I tried out the french method 3 times, and they failed each time.
Lucikly my girls gobbled them up like cookies.
I'll try this cake the next time I have way too much macafails.

Kirbie said...

Genius use for the macarons!

Anonymous said...

Clever use of your failed macarons! Good lighting on your second picture, reminds me of the ones in Donna Hay's cookbook. :)

sotong said...

u made a whole new cake out of those macawrongs! great thinking! and i love your pics, they're getting better each time :)

Lala said...

that's really creative! great idea for the use of macarons we can't give away =)

Janine said...

@Wendy: you're lucky your girls eat them! my family doesn't eat any of them :( do try it and let me know how it goes :) yup and the french method gives me iffy results all the time - italian's more successful for me too, but I don't like the troublesome sugar boiling step :/

@kirbie: thanks!

@lifeisfull: oooh that's a really great compliment considering how much I like Donna Hay heh

@sotong: thanks :D I find that I take more effort in taking photos now, when I bother that is.

@Lala: yup - if you ever have the opportunity (or misfortune) to have unwanted macarons, do try this!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

This is a great idea, Thanks for sharing.

QembarDelites said...

My dog is the only one who appreciates my failed macs! I too hv been looking for ways to get it into cakes but dare not attempt it yet! Your recipe will come in handy one of these days:)

R. said...

Hi Janine, this is rachleow from law school. I love love love how this looks! I never tried making macarons (i have trouble with the simplest of things, so believe me it's a good thing i don't try) but my brother did a bunch of times and I usually just ate up the often super huge and weirdly shaped macarons anyway haha. i'm really not a visual person when it comes to food! Anyway this is a great idea and it looks super good too. Anything choc is amazing! Also,your pics look great.

Janine said...

@Sonia: thanks!

@Jeannie: yeah my dogs did the 'appreciating' last time as well, but they no longer have the privilege hehe

@Rachel: yup I recognize your nick from lj! hehe thanks :D you're lucky to have such a nice brother - I have 2 of them and sadly they don't appreciate my macarons, even the nicer look ones sigh!

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Janine, we've all had failures with macarons! I didn't realise the colour of the pan would make such a difference in this recipe-I only have the dark silver coloured pans!

kitchen flavours said...

What a wonderful way to "salvage" a failed macaron. To be honest, I am hesitating at trying out macarons, even though it has been on my to-try list! But I know that I will try it, sooner or later, no idea when that will be!
Your photos are gorgeous, would never have guessed that your washing machine would have anything to do with that! Hahaha! :)

lena said...

janine, this is really helpful! at least you have a recipe here for those who do not want to throw away their failed macarons shells and the great thing is that, churning out a delicious cake!

Swee San said...

well now there's no reason for people not to at least try to make macarons! "Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success." couldn't agree more :) Good luck and btw, the photos look great!

shaz said...

What do you mean the feet are too short? They look great! Well done. Macarons are so finicky, even though I've made them often, I still watch the first tray through the oven door and cheer when the feet rise.

Great idea to use up the leftover macaron shells in cake from, and the photos do look very bright. Be careful though :)

Janine said...

@kitchen flavours: do try them out soon! it takes a huge leap of faith at first, but you'll be rewarded greatly ;p

@lena: i sure hope people try it instead of throwing away the shells!

@swee san: thanks!

@shaz: thanks so much! yup thanks for the comment on the brightness of the photos. I was wondering about them myself but no one seemed to mind hehe

Julia at Cafe Lula said...

This is a great idea! I was just thinking that I should make some macaroons to use in this cake and then I remembered I have failed chocolate macaroons at home already that I made at the weekend (my memory is really bad). It's fate that I stumbled across this page!

meiliana lukman said...

Do u have any idea on turning the failed macaron into cookies? Just substitute the flour in cookies making?

Janine said...

@meiliana: yup just substitute them in the flour (particularly almond flour), but do reduce the sugar in the recipe a little! And don't substitute it for all the flour, I've tried it with a maximum of 20%, but I think a 40% substitution should be fine as well.

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