Verdict: Win...after 3 tries

It was a journey to get to successful, beautiful macarons...but it was worth it. I wanted to make these so I could give them as a gift to DY's parents, who took me along on their family's vacation to Mexico. I mean, what's better to give as a gift than these cute, albeit difficult, little French cookies?

I initially tried David Lebowitz's recipe, but found that the high temperature and the granulated sugar wasn't working for me. I also failed to read to pipe the batter like "dots", and instead tried to swirl the batter into a circle. It only led to very hollow, sans feet, feces-shaped meringues.

Then I moved onto Annie's recipe, which is a take from Tartelette's. I liked Annie's recipe because it had so many pictures that I could compare my work to. My second batch showed promise, as they had feet, but they were still hollow inside. I then thoroughly read Demystifying Macarons by Helene Dujardin of Tartelette, which I believe helped me a lot. I learned 3 key things: let the egg whites sit in room temperature for 1-2 days, DON'T overwork the egg whites, and to let the cookies sit for an hour before popping them into the oven.

I must have been over working my egg whites, because on my third batch, I stopped whipping my egg whites as soon as I could hold the bowl upside down and the whites wouldn't move, and I was careful not to over fold the cocoa powder into the whipped egg whites. The results, shown above, were beautiful. They had the cute little feet and were not hollow inside. They were a little wet inside, but all I had to do was bake them a little longer (which actually led to doubling their baking time).

On a side note, the grinding of the almonds to make these macarons was a very difficult step for me. Our very old food processor wasn't grinding the blanched slivered almonds fine enough, so I resorted to using a blender. Also, for future reference, I'm going to add equal parts (in weight) of confectioner's sugar when grinding the almonds in the blender. This way it will 1) prevent the formation of almond butter and 2) make it easier in the future for me to measure ingredients. Also, sift the hell out of the mixture. Sift, sift, sift.

Chocolate Espress Macarons from Annie's Eats
Yield: about 16 macarons

For the macarons:
110 gm blanched slivered almonds
200 gm minus 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa powder (Dutch-process preferred)
100 gm egg whites (from about 3 eggs), aged at room temperature for 12-24 hours
50 gm granulated sugar

For the espresso ganache:
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 tbsp. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1½ tsp. espresso powder

Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Sift into a separate large bowl. Sift and mix in confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder.

With a handmixer, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue beating until a smooth, shiny meringue with stiff peaks forms. Then add ground almond mixture to the bowl and quickly but gently fold together using a wide rubber spatula until no streaks remain and thick batter flows like ribbons.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain wide round tip. Pipe into small rounds (about 1-1½ inch diameter) on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 inch apart. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on size. Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.

To make ganache, combine cream, butter and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Place chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring cream mixture to a simmer, remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes, then whisk gently in small circular motions until the ganache forms. Blend in the espresso powder. Let the mixture cool until it is thick enough to pipe.

Once the cookies are totally cooled, match them up by size. Pipe a layer of ganache onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair. Sandwich together with the remaining cookie, pushing the filling to the edges. Store in an airtight container.


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