First of all, I would like to give a big thank you to David Lebovitz for kindly allowing me to use his recipe for authentic French chocolate macaroons. You can read his original entry about the delicious subject here.
French macaroons are a world away from American macaroons. American macaroons are large and made with a coconut meringue. French macaroons, however, are little rounded, flat-ish cookies made with a light almond meringue. They are almost always sandwiched together with some kind of filling. I don't know why, but to me, the cute little sandwiches look absolutely adorable. Seriously, I could eat them up! (Only one bad joke per update, I promise.)
I must say, after your first chocolate macaroon, there's no going back. The other cookies just aren't good enough (nor good enough for you). These delicious little sandwiches of chocolatey, almond-y goodness are amazing.
The little lovlies in all their chocolatey glory.
As utterly delicious as they are, these are sadly, not very easy to make. They are incredibly temperamental. As of this writing, I've made them twice, and while one batch came out much better than the other (the one pictured in this entry), I still don't think they've ever come out quite right. Maybe someone can help me out here, but is the texture supposed to be crunchy on the outside and kind of chewy in the middle? Or is it supposed to be all crunch? Anyway, without further ado, here's the recipe, once again, courtesy of David Lebovitz. Also, in the recipe, David refers to the macaroons as "macarons", which, if you're a regular reader of his blog, you probably guessed to be the French word for macaroon.
1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces , 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
3 tablespoons (15 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.
Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn't quite fine enough.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone).
Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the countertop to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.
You've probably noticed that the recipe calls for "Dutch-process cocoa powder." If you're reading this blog, you probably know what that is, but for those of you who don't, I'll go into it a little bit. (Or maybe a lot.) "Dutch-process" simply refers to cocoa that has been treated with alkali. This treatment darkens the color of the cocoa and makes the flavor more mild. "Dutched" cocoa is the industrial standard when it comes to cocoa, though (at least for me) it was difficult to find on US store shelves until recent years. Nowadays, Dutched cocoa is pretty easy to find. A couple brands immediately come to mind: Droste and Hershey's. Droste is a Dutch company, but thier cocoa is pretty expensive (about 12 dollars for a box of about 12 ounces.) Hershey's makes both natural and Dutch cocoa and sells them to the masses at reasonable prices. I paid about $4 for an 8 or so ounce can of cocoa, which seemed much more reasonable after seeing the $12 box of Droste. To pick Dutch cocoa out from "natural" or "unprocessed" cocoa, it will probably say "Dutch-process" or "Processed with Alkali" somewhere on the packaging. The foolproof test that I always use, however, is to just look in the ingredient list for "alkali."
Anyway, back to the macaroons themselves. Making the batter is fairly easy if you have good folding skills. And I don't mean folding paper, of course. Like I said earlier, I've made two batches of these, the first (and better) one is the one you see in all the pictures.
One pan turned out really well.
The other one…not so much.
Luckily, I know why the macaroons in the second pan cracked; the pan was very thin. I have two jelly roll pans (Well, actually, one of them kind of died on Saturday…my father was trying to clean it with oven cleaner and it totally ruined the non-stick finish. And it was the good one too!) one is beefy and heavy, while the other is light and thin. like I said earlier, the thin one made the macaroons crack. Why, you may ask? It's all about heat conductivity, but, alas, this is a food blog and not, say, Good Eats, so I shant go on.
As I mentioned earlier, French macaroons are usually sandwiched together with filling inbetween. If you look at David's post about them, he has two filling recipes: chocolate and prune. Now, I'll admit, I cheated when I filled them. I should have been a good little foodie and made a batch of ganache, but, it was late and I was tired, so I found this lying around the house…
I'm bad, aren't I? But you know what? It tasted good, even though ganache would have been better.
Well, what are you waiting for! Get out there and make some macaroons!