Maybe I’m just buying into a hype machine of cupcake proportions, but I LOVE Macarons. These titans of French pastry are airy, have limitless flavor possibilities, and, if made by a master, cost a fortune. After sacrificing lunch to try the macarons of Ladurée and Hermé, I knew I had to try them out for myself. Fortuitously, this obsessive desire to make macarons coincided with the need to procrastinate during finals season, leading to an extensive scouring of the internet for recipes and techniques. My friend Sarah, a fellow macaron maker, sent me a link to this article, Demystifying Macarons. In it, Helen Dujardin carefully walks readers through the process of making these delightful cookies.
For my first attempt, I decided to stay basic and make the Dark Chocolate variety. I followed Helen’s recipe as best as I could, though I have to admit I had to fudge the measurements with good approximations because I didn’t have a metric scale (I definitely need to buy one.) I will include my estimations, but please look at her recipe and article for real guidance. The egg whites were estimated because I used my leftover egg whites (aged perfectly at 2 days) from my creme brulées and there were too many. I also used the French meringue technique to take the easier route on the first go around, though I do love tinkering around with my candy thermometer (and, apparently, sounding obnoxious online).
Dark Chocolate Macarons (Adapted from Helen Dujardin’s Recipe)
1/3 of a cup of Egg Whites (approximately 3, I hope.)
5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 heaping cup of powdered sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons of Unsweeted Cocoa
3/4 of a cup of raw almonds, ground (turned into about 1/2 a cup of ground almond powder, which is pretty consistent with other macaron recipes)
Grind up almonds with the powder sugar until extremely fine. Pass through a strainer and regrind the larger pieces until everything (or near everything) passes through. Mix in the cocoa powder and set the mixture aside.
Prepare the meringue until it is glossy and forms stiff peaks. Remember to add the sugar gradually after the egg whites begin to froth, and everything should go fine.
Fold in half the almond mixture. This should fairly easily incorporate. Then add in the rest attempting to combine it all with as few folds as possible. This is what my batter looked like…
I am not very adept with piping, so I cheated by using a tablespoon sized ice cream scoop to make uniform macaron shells. I plopped them out on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let sit for 1 hour, to form the feet. I think the ice cream scoop is a bit less consistent, because some of the shell’s feet were huge and lopsided, and I ended up trimming them a bit. Also, I would suggest flattening the macarons out a bit more, because mine were too dome like after cooking. Here is what they looked like after being baked at 375 for 12 minutes.
Let the shells cool before fussing with them. Once cooled, match the each shell with a twin like partner and prepare for filling. I filled mine with a simple chocolate ganache. The most important part of a ganache is to use good and very dark chocolate. I had a block that was .46 lbs and I added just under a cup of hot cream to complete the ganache, but follow any recipe or just use your eye to make your own batch. Here is the end result. A bit too round, but cute nonetheless.
They tasted really really good, but weren’t quite right. A little chewy and too much ganache made them seem extremely American. As if the Cheesecake Factory decided to add them to their menu. Next time I will work my butt off to make them better… and Pistachio flavored. Stay tuned.