Dark Chocolate Almond Macarons
These macarons were inspired by my favorite “I just need a little chocolate” treat. Trader Joes dark chocolate almonds with turbinado sugar and sea salt. If you haven’t tried them, you need to! Any trip I make to Trader Joes, these are my go to even if I already have some in the pantry. For the patisserie version of these treats, chocolate macaron shells are dip in dark chocolate and sprinkled with turbinado sugar and flaked sea salt. Then, filled with dark chocolate almond ganache and sliced almond pieces.
To create shiny chocolate top for my macarons, I did temper my chocolate. This involves monitoring the chocolate’s temperature as you melt it. You will need to bring it to 115 degree F. Then, let it cool to 80 degrees F and the heat it gently back to 88 degrees F. I did this simply, by using an instant read thermometer and the microwave at 5-10 second intervals. This extra step will insure that your tops are shiny and do not bloom or turn dull.
Macarons are notoriously finicky. This recipe cuts out some of the extras like aging your egg whites and making a sugar syrup for the meringue. It’s what works for me. Do some experimenting to find what works best in your kitchen and with your oven. If you find that your macarons have delicate and brittle shells with air pockets between the shell and fluffy interior, you may be over beating your egg whites. Turning your mixer down when you are getting close to stiff peaks and help pin point the magically point. I also like to use a hand mixer to make macarons, I feel more in control of the mixing that way. If your macarons are sticking to your liner/parchment, you probably have under baked them increase the baking time (darker macarons with more added coloring tend to take longer). If your macaron’s feet never seem to make an appearance. It is probably due to the drying time. Make sure that the batter is completely dry to the touch before placing them in the oven. Again this is what works for me. Its all about trial and error with macarons and somedays you can do everything right and then the humidity in the air just makes baking perfect cookies impossible.
Dark Chocolate Almond Macarons
Chocolate Macaron Shells
3 large egg whites
50g granulated sugar
90g fine ground almond flour
160g confectioners sugar
20g Dutch processed cocoa powder
*2 ounces melted chocolate, turbinado sugar and flaked sea salt for sprinkling
Almond Dark Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz dark chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoon amaretto
*1/2 cup sliced almonds for filling
Chocolate Macaron Shells: Preheat the oven to 300F for convection (320F for non-convention) I have used the recipe with both convection and non convection oven. I have found that the convection oven creates a fluffier center but have had equal success with both.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. I have had success with these parchment paper liners and these silicone mats. If you use folded or rolls of parchment you run the risk of wonky unsymmetrical shells.
Using a food processor pulse the confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and almond flour together several times until fine. Then, sift the mixture using a fine mesh sieve. If there are any large morsels use a spatula to press them through, disagreed any large lumps and set mixture aside. I have found that using the combination of processing and sifting helps to produce very smooth tops.
I prefer to use a handmixer to beat the egg whites. I feel that this gives me more control but a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment will do the job too. Place your room temperature egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and beat on high until the eggs become frothy and lose their pale yellow tint. Then, add the granulated sugar gradually while continuing to whip. Keep beating until the whites get glossy and stick firmly to the sides of the bowl and reach stiff peaks. At this point, add the gel color until you reach the desired color. For these macs I used 2 drops of ateco gel brown to deepen the color. It is important not to over beak your egg white, this can cause large air pockets to form in the shells between the outer crust and fluffy feet.
Now mix the dry ingredients into the egg whites in 3 equal parts, fold the mixture gentle until it is all incorporated. Once incorporated the tricky part begins, you need to stir out some of the air to make the batter have the right consistency. The batter should run off the spatula in a ribbon. I am still working on finding the perfect consistency here but you want batter spoon on top to standup on itself but then smooths into the batter after 10-20 seconds
Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe onto the template allowing for a little room for the batter to spread when it settles. Give the tip a quick flick of the wrist at the end to help smooth the surface but if you have mixed correctly slight peaks should smooth and become even as they settle.
Once all of the macs have been pipped give the tray a firm tap to help any air bubbles to rise to the top and burst. Keep a toothpick handy to coax the larger bubbles to pop. Then, set the tray on the counter to allow the macs to air dry until dry to the touch. This is the key to large ruffled "feet". Depending on several factors this can take anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. Just be patience and you will be rewarded.
Once dry to the touch, place the macs on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 275F (295F for non-convenction ovens) and bake for another 7-8 minutes. Every oven is different so keep an eye on them. The foot should be visible after the first 10 minutes. Remove the macs from the oven and let set to cool. The macs should lift easily from the parchment but a metal spatula can help to release the shells.
Find a match for each shell and dip the top of one into melted chocolate. Once, the chocolate is almost set sprinkle on the turbinado sugar and flaked sea salt.
Dark Chocolate Almond Ganache: Coarsely chop your chocolate and place it in a heat safe bowl. Then, In a small sauce pan other medium heat, heat your cream until it is just about to boil.
Pour the warmed cream over the chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Then gently stir until all of the chocolate is melted. Mix in the butter and amaretto and stir until completely integrated. Place in the refrigerate and let cool until spreadable. (about 30 minutes)
Fill a pastry bag fitted with the pastry tip of your choice (I used a wilton 12) with the chocolate ganache.
On the un-dipped shell, pipe a swirl of ganache leaving room in the middle for almond slices. Fill the middle of the ganache with the almonds. Top each cookie and press gently to distribute the filling
makes approximately 2 and a half dozen