Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chocolate Macarons

I know it's been a long time. Far too long. While I was away I learned a devastating truth: I cannot make chocolate chip cookies. I can manage perfectly flaky croissants. I'm fine with pie crust. I can bake brioche. Biscotti: not a problem. Allow me to make you puff pastry. But good ol' chocolate chip cookies are apparently beyond me. To console myself, and although I always say my next post will be a savory, I got up this morning and made chocolate macarons. And they're divine.
They have a perfect meringue crust giving way to a pleasantly chewy center. The ganache is as ganache should be: rich beyond rich and like silk on the tongue. The points may not have smoothed out as much as I would have liked, but when I opened the oven and saw perfect collars around every macaron, I was elated.
Macarons were once near the top of my baking intimidation list. After two successful attempts, they have fallen off it. I hope you too can experience the euphoria these little cookies can offer when they work.

Chocolate Macarons

Makes 18 2-inch sandwiched macarons

  • For the macarons:
  • 200 g confectioners' sugar
  • 95 g almond flour
  • 40 g cocoa powder
  • 130 g egg whites (about 4), room temp
  • 130 g granulated sugar
  • Blank
  • For the ganache filling:
  • 1/2 recipe basic ganache
  • 1 Tbs. soft butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Cointreau
  • For the macarons: Line several baking sheets with parchment and set aside. Alternately you can line one baking sheet with parchment and set three other sheets of parchment on your work surface. If you find it helpful, which I do, draw circles the diameter you desire your cookies to be on the parchment.
  • Place the confectioners' sugar, almond flour, and cocoa in the bowl of a food processor and process until there are no lumps and the cocoa is evenly distributed. Set aside. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the whites on low speed until they are frothy. Increase the speed to medium high and when whites start to hold shape, gradually add the granulated sugar. Continue to whip until whites hold stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the almond-sugar-cocoa mixture into the whites in two parts until no streaks of white remain.
  • Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a medium-large plain tip and pipe mounds of batter into the circles drawn on the parchment. Allow to stand for one hour. Half an hour before the first batch goes into the oven, preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 15 minutes. Transfer immediately to wire racks to cool. Allow the oven to reheat, transfer your second piece of parchment to the baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Repeat until all the macarons are baked.
  • For the ganache filling: While the cookies are awaiting the oven, make the ganache. After the cream is fully incorporated, add the butter and process for a few seconds. Add the Cointreau and process a few seconds longer. Transfer ganache to a bowl and refrigerate until pipable, stirring occasionally to allow for even cooling and to prevent a skin from forming.
  • To assemble: When the cookies are fully cooled and the ganache is thick enough to pipe, pipe a dollop of ganache onto the bums of half the macarons. Sandwich with the remaining cookies.

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