A chocolate version of the popular French cookie that is crisp on the outside with a soft, chewy center. Made primarily of almond flour or ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites, I have added cocoa to the meringue batter to create a rich, deep chocolate flavor. When filled with a velvety smooth ganache filling these tempting bite-sized sandwiches make a perfect chocolaty bite.
When making French macaroons, the folding and air drying are important steps to achieve the cookie’s characteristic smooth top and crinkly “foot.”
French Chocolate Almond Macaroons
4 ounces blanched almonds (about 1 cup)
1¼ cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons superfine sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
½ cup whipping (heavy) cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Tip: dab the corners of the baking sheet with butter or shortening to hold the parchment paper in place.
- Have a large 14 inch or 16 inch pastry bag, fitted with a ½ inch plain round decorating tip, or optionally insert a coupler with a ½ inch opening in the bag. Fold the bag down making a 4 inch cuff. Tip: Place the pastry bag in a tall jar or drinking glass to stabilize the bag when filling with the meringue mixture.
- Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until the almonds are very finely ground. Add the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder to the processor, and continue to pulse until the mixture is fine and powdery. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the salt and beat until firm peaks form. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time while continuing to beat. Beat about 2 minutes longer until stiff, shiny peaks form.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Place the ground almond mixture in a fine mesh sieve and sprinkle over the meringue in five or six additions, folding each addition in with a large rubber spatula. Discard any remaining large pieces that don’t sprinkle easily through the sieve. Tip: While folding in the almond mixture, expect the meringue to deflate. Fold the mixture 50 to 65 times until the mixture is smooth and there are no streaks of egg white. You can test for the correct consistency by placing a small spoonful of the meringue on a plate, and if a small peak remains, fold the meringue a few times more. If the meringue forms a round cap but doesn’t run, it is ready.
- Spoon the meringue into the prepared pastry bag. Tip: the perfect meringue should just ooze out of the tip once the bag is full. If the meringue stays stiff inside the bag it is too thick, if it drips out too fast the meringue is too runny.
- Twist the top of the bag, and pipe 1 inch or 1½ inch circles onto the parchment lined baking sheets at least 1 inch apart. Tip:Place the tip directly on the parchment paper, gently squeeze the bag and let the meringue billow up around the tip, then as you release sweep the tip to the side of the meringue mound rather than lifting straight up and forming a peak.
- Rap the bottom of the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to help flatten the meringues and release trapped air. Smooth any pointed tips with barely moistened fingertips.
- Let the meringues sit and air dry at least 45 minutes or up to 1 or 2 hours, or until the meringues are no longer shiny but look dull. Letting the meringues sit also forms a thin skin over the tops so that during baking the meringues puff up beneath the skin and form a “foot” at the bottom.
- While meringues are air drying, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake the meringues one sheet at a time. Place the baking sheet in the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until the meringues are crisp and firm, 10 to 12 minutes. After baking the first batch, reheat the oven temperature to 375 degrees before baking the second batch.
- When done baking, remove baking sheet from oven and let meringues cool on the sheet for 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully lift the parchment one end at a time; use a spray bottle and spray a small amount of water underneath the parchment and onto the hot pan. The steam will help release the meringues. Be careful that the steam does not burn you and that water does not splash on the meringues.
- Use a small offset spatula to loosen the meringues from the parchment and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- At this point, the meringues can be stacked between layers of parchment or wax paper in an airtight container and stored at room temperature up to 2 days before filling.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a small heavy saucepan over medium low heat, heat the cream until it is hot and just beginning to steam. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the butter, corn syrup, and vanilla, stirring until completely mixed.
- Let the ganache sit and cool 30 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until it is like a thick frosting. Spoon Ganache filling into a pastry bag with a ¼ inch round tip and pipe a small amount onto a flat side of one of the meringue cookies, top with another cookie to make a ganache filled macaroon sandwich.
Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies Magazine, 2010,
Stewart, Martha, Baking Handbook, Clarkson Potter, New York, 2005,
Usher, Julia, Cookie Swap, Gibbs Smith, Utah, 2009,
Walter, Carole, Great Cookies, Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York, 2003,
Williams Sonoma, Essentials of Baking, Welden Owen Inc, California, 2003
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