I've found that once you start making French Macarons you become addicted to
them. They have so much going for them. They look gorgeous, they
taste divine, and you get a real sense of accomplishment from making them. The basic Macaron starts with two
almond flavored meringue cookies
that have a thin outer crust that breaks easily when you bite into it, yet
inside they're wonderfully soft and moist. For a
Chocolate Macaron you simply add a little unsweetened cocoa powder to the
batter. And to make them even more chocolately we are going to sandwich the two
cookies together with a
delicious chocolate ganache.
These Chocolate Macarons are a little tricky to perfect
as there are so many factors at play - the quality and amounts
of ingredients, the mixing of the batter, the pans, the length of resting
time, the oven temperature, and the baking
time. Some common problems
are that the Macaron doesn't have a 'ruffle' or 'collar' (called a
'foot') on the bottom, or that the 'foot' is more horizontal than
vertical. Or maybe the tops of the cookies have cracks or are too domed
shaped, or uneven, or even lumpy. Sometimes the cookies can be lopsided or
the insides of the cookes are too chewy or dry. Unfortunately making
Macarons does take a little practice, and
I recommend taking notes so you can keep track of everything you do. That
way if you have problems, you can refer to your notes and make
adjustments. Because you will find that in your kitchen, with your
ingredients, with your oven, you may have to adjust the recipe.
What I've learned from making Macarons is that you need to use top
quality ingredients, and to get accurate amounts of each ingredient, measure by weight
(grams), not volume.
(This is why I don't give 'cup' measurements.) (I use a
scale for measuring.) Next, the egg whites need to be 'aged', which means separate the eggs at least
a day (and up to 5 days)
before making the Macarons. Cover the egg whites with a piece of paper
towel (to let the whites breath) and place in the refrigerator. Then,
several hours before making the Macarons, remove the whites from the
refrigerator and bring to room temperature. (This ensures that the
whites will reach their full volume when whipped.) Next, the ground
almonds. You can either buy almond meal/flour
(I use Bob's
Red Mill finely ground almond meal/flour),
or you can take whole blanched almonds and process them in your food
processor until finely ground. The ground almonds need to be mixed with
the confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar (use powdered sugar that
contains cornstarch (corn flour) and the unsweetened cocoa powder (regular
unsweetened or Dutch processed). You can mix them together with a wire
whisk or in your food processor. Once that is done,
sift the mixture to get rid of any large pieces of almonds.
In closing, even though making Macarons is quite
challenging, I would encourage you to try. For more help there is an excellent food
blog that I highly recommend, called
notsohumblepie.com. Ms. Humble (as she is called) has done extensive
research on the subject of making Macarons. She even has a "Macaron
Troubleshooting" article that outlines the various problems (and reasons
why) that can occur when making Macarons.
I found it very helpful.
Chocolate Macarons: Have ready
three baking sheets (make sure they have flat bottoms (no warping)) lined with
To make all the Macarons the same size, I like to make a template. Take a
piece of parchment paper and draw 20 - 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) circles, spacing the
circles about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Place the template under your parchment
paper so you can use it as a guide.
Place the ground almonds, confectioners sugar,
and cocoa powder in your food processor and process until they are mixed
together (about 30
seconds). Then sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
In the bowl of
your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment (can use a hand mixer),
beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy.
Gradually add the sugar, and continue to beat, on medium-high speed, until the
meringue just holds stiff peaks
(when you slowly raise the whisk the meringue stands straight up (no
Then, in three additions, sift the ground almond mixture over the
meringue. When folding, cut through the meringue and then fold up and over,
making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Once the
almond mixture is completely folded (called macaronage) into the meringue (the batter will
fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon) it is time to pipe the
pastry bag, fitted with about a 1/2 inch (1 cm) plain tip, with about half the batter. Pipe
about 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) rounds onto the parchment paper, using the template as
a guide. Then carefully remove the template and gently tap the baking sheet on the counter to break any air
bubbles (can also break air bubbles with the end of a toothpick). Let the
Macarons sit at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes (depending on
the temperature and humidity of your kitchen) or until the tops of
the Macarons are no longer tacky when lightly touched.
preheat your oven to 325 degree F (160 degree C) with the oven racks in the top
and bottom third of the oven. Bake the cookies (two sheets at a time) for about
14 - 16 minutes,
rotating the pans top to bottom, front to back, about halfway through baking.
The Macarons are done when they just barely separate from the
parchment paper. Remove from oven and let the Macarons cool completely on
the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. To assemble the Macarons, take two
cookies and sandwich them together with chocolate ganache. While you can serve the Macarons the day they are
made, these cookies really need to mature for a day or two in the
refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat (or in
Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and
allow to stand for a few minutes. Stir
gently until smooth. If
desired, add the liqueur. Let sit at room temperature until thick and of
piping consistency. (This
can take a few hours.) You can make the ganache the day before. Just cover and
store at room temperature.
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