This is a dirty-every-dish-in-the-house kind of treat: French macarons, filled with French buttercream, dipped in a semi-sweet chocolate glaze. 3 separate recipes, 3 separate steps of preparation.
I just wanted to get that out of the way before I began. This is not a quick treat. It’s labor intensive and it’s not for beginners.
But it’s worth it.
I’ve held onto this recipe for more than 25 years, ever since Madame Legate, my high school French teacher handed it to me as something French I could make for the French-themed party we were having. Sadly, this party would not have French Fries, French Dressing, or Peru (you get a gold star if you get this reference), but it would have my amateur attempt at French macarons.
I won’t lie, I messed it up pretty bad, but what do you expect from a 17 year old with virtually no baking experience? The amazing thing is, that even though I messed them up, they still tasted incredible.
Once every couple of years I will get the recipe out and try again. The original recipe calls for these to be dipped open-faced into the chocolate glaze, but I’ve never been able to accomplish this without a huge mess. This year, due in part to the recent macaron craze, I decided to assemble them as traditional macarons and dip them half-moon style into the glaze. Voila, perfection.
So if you’re up for a challenge, and ready to create something that defies expectations, consider my take on macarons au chocolat.
- 1 cup finely ground blanched almonds, or almond flour
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- food coloring (optional)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 4 egg yolks
- ⅔ cup butter, softened
- 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa
- 5 oz chopped semisweet chocolate
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp lightly salted butter
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together ground almonds and powdered sugar. Then sift mixture and if there are any large lumps of almond, discard.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whip room temperature egg whites until frothy. Then begin gradually adding granulated sugar. Increase whipping speed and whip until stiff peaks form.
- Add egg whites to pecan mixture and begin folding gently until no powder remains and mixture is fully incorporated. Add food coloring, if using. Do not overmix!
- Put batter in a piping bag, and using a large round tip, pipe into roughly 1½" circles onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. If your macarons have little pointy nipples where you pulled off the pastry tip, get your finger barely wet and tamp down the tip. No nipples on macarons!
- Whack the pan on the counter, hard, a couple of times, to release any trapped air bubbles.
- Now you need to let them rest for 30-60 minutes, until the top looks matte and it has formed a crust that does not stick to your finger when you touch it. This is a super important step, do not skip!
- When your macarons have formed a crust, bake at 325 for around 15 minutes. My macarons took 17 minutes to bake. How do you know when they're done? My absolute test is when I can very, very gently use two fingers to move the macaron on the parchment paper. If it moves, it's done. If it wants to stick to the paper or the top looks like it's going to move without the bottom part, then it's not done yet.
- Remove from pan and cool completely.
- In a small saucepan, cook sugar and water to 230 degrees on a candy thermometer, AND the syrup spins a 2-inch thread when dropped from a spoon. *Be sure to cook your syrup to a thread stage! You MUST be able to spin a 2-inch thread from a spoon before adding the syrup to your egg yolks, or the icing will never set up and will be a gloppy mess that needs to be thrown away.*
- Beat the 4 egg yolks in a separate bowl with an electric mixer until thick and lemon-colored.
- Beating at high speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks in a thin, steady stream, being careful not to pour the syrup on the bowl or beaters.
- Then beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until well blended.
- Beat in cocoa. Store in refrigerator to firm up.
- Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler. Heat until just melted, and stir to combine thoroughly.
- Assemble macarons by filling the flat side of a cookie with about 1 tbsp of french buttercream. Place the flat side of another cookie on top to make a sandwich. You can move right to the next step of dipping in the melted chocolate glaze, or you can refrigerate the macaron so it can firm up.
- When you are ready, dip half of macaron in the chocolate glaze and set on wax paper until glaze has become solid.
- Store macarons in refrigerator overnight for best texture.