It’s finals week. The workload is high, and the smell of a summer vacation is wafting through the windows. My sister takes French at the University, and as her final project, created a french cooking video.
Last summer, my family and I traveled to Paris, France to explore the city and its culture. We rented a little apartment and every morning we would walk down the cobbled road to a local pâtisserie and enjoy croissants and espressos. Weeks before our trip, I enrolled in an English french cooking class taught by ” La Cuisine Paris” . On the last day of our trip, I was rewarded with a three hour class devoted entirely to that crunchy french cookie: The Macaron. History depicts the macaron to have been first baked in the 1500’s by nuns. Modern macaron cookies, two almond disks filled with a sweet ganache, jam, or jelly had become popular in the late 1800’s by Pierre Desfontaines and Claude Gerbet.
In today’s culture, the macaron is a fashion statement and culture icon to Paris. One cannot visit the city of lights, without biting down on this crunchy, air-lke cookie.
While in Paris, I stopped at a local bookstore and bought a macaron recipe book…written completely in French. Fortunately, my sister translated the non-food terms for me and together we created “Macaron Chocolat Au Noir” for her final project.
This book, “Macarons Collection” by Myriam Darmoni features a variety of macaron recipes; sweet and savory.
Macaron Au Chocolat Noir
For the macarons:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup almond flour or almond meal*
- 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- Pinch cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the ganache filling:
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), at room temperature and cut into cubes
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip; set aside.
- Place the powdered sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse several times to aerate. Process until fine and combined, about 30 seconds. Sift through a flour sifter into a large bowl; set aside.
- Make a meringue by placing the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until opaque and foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat until the egg whites are white in color and hold the line of the whisk, about 1 minute. Continue to beat, slowly adding the granulated sugar, until the sugar is combined, the peaks are stiff, and the whites are shiny, about 1 minute more. (Do not overwhip.) Transfer the meringue to a large bowl.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites in four batches until the dry ingredients are just combined. (The meringue will deflate.)
- Transfer the batter to the pastry bag. Pipe out 1-1/4-inch rounds about 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets, about 25 per sheet. Pick up the baking sheets and bang them against the work surface to help create the macaron base, or foot. Let the rounds sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry the tops and ensure even cooking.
- Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheet and cook for 7 minutes more. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool completely.
For the Ganache
- Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl.
- Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Stir it into the chocolate without creating bubbles. Let sit for 1 minute. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until thickened but still spreadable, about 30 minutes.
- Pair macarons of similar size. Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. If you choose to pipe the ganache, transfer it to a resealable plastic bag and snip about a 1/2 inch off a bottom corner. Squeeze or scoop the ganache to about the size of a cherry (about 1 teaspoon) onto the center of a macaron half.Top with another half and press gently so that it looks like a mini hamburger. The filling should not ooze out the edges. Refrigerate, covered, at least 24 hours before serving.
* If almond flour is not available, grind 1 cup blanched almonds in food processor until fine. Although your macarons will have a more rustic texture, the cookies will still be fabulous.
Recipe inspired by “Macarons Collection” / Chow.com
“In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.” – Julia Child