$2.50--that's how much my daughter and I paid for 1 macaron recently when we were spending the day in NYC!! Imagine if you bought a pound of them--you'd have to take out a small loan!! The saddest part is that it was gone in about two bites!! I vowed then and there to learn how to make my own. These Chocolate Almonds Macarons are my first attempt and I have to say that while I'm sure I will improve as I begin my quest to make the best homemade macarons ever, these are pretty tasty and it probably cost me only a little over $2.50 to make the whole batch!
Macarons are one of my daughter's favorite cookies and I don't know why I haven't tried making them before--what a rotten mother I am!! I think it's the piping thing that's intimidated me but these were easy to pipe and if you really, really can't or won't pipe, you can spoon these out and they'll still hold their shape fairly well.
These are also happily flour-free which makes them a great choice for people with gluten issues and for Passover!
See the little pockets of air--that's from beating the egg whites--and it gives the cookies that light, airy crispness.
Each bite is full of chewy almond goodness and creamy, rich chocolate ganache filling. As you can see, somebody had to sample them right away!
My only critique of these as compared to the highway robbery ones are textural--the cookies aren't as smooth and I think it's because I used ground almonds instead of almond meal. Will definitely try them that way next time. Stay tuned for the next installment of Felicia vs. the Illusive Perfect Macaron (maybe I'll at least get a comic strip out of it!!)
Chocolate Almond Macarons
Makes about 12 sandwich cookies
You will need a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (although you can get away with just spooning these out if necessary)
Prep Time: 25 minutes; Total time: About 1 hour
- 1/2 cup blanched, sliced almonds, (about 1 3/4 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, divided
- 2 large egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Place the almonds, cocoa and 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse together until you get a fine, powdery mixture.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on medium-high speed, until they hold soft peaks. Then, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, gradually and beat until the whites just hold stiff peaks.
4. Fold about 1/3 of the almond mixture into the whites with a rubber spatula. Then fold in the rest of the mixture gently until no whites can be seen.
5. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag and pipe 24 rounds onto the two baking sheets, making them about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time for about 15-18 minutes, reversing the sheet front to back once during the process, until the cookies are puffed and the edges are slightly darker. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a rack until completely cool, about 20 minutes. Repeat with second sheet.
6. While the cookies are baking, heat the chocolate and half-and-half in a small heavy pot over low heat, stirring all the time, until completely melted and smooth. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
7. When the macarons are cool, spoon the filling onto half of the cookies and then top with the remaining cookies, pressing gently down to sandwich them together.
8. These really are best on the day they're made but they can be stored at room temperature for a day or two in an airtight container.
Note: Recipe adapted from an old issue of Gourmet Magazine.