Let’s Bake: Chocolate Macaroons

Today, Katy Purwin and Christine Cochran, the two young and hungry chicks behind the Young & Hungry blog share their recipe for chocolate macaroons.

As a college student studying abroad, I spent a great deal of time sauntering around the streets of Spain, on the hunt for local bakeries hiding in the copious nooks and crannies of European boulevards (because, let’s be honest—study abroad consists of little actual study).  One of my favorite items to order was a dessert borrowed from neighboring France (though some claim the origins are Italian) the Parisian macaron (or macaroon): tiny, beautiful, colorful gems that are celebrated throughout Europe and beyond.

On the surface macaroons look simple but, in fact, they are extremely tricky to execute—they require steadfast precision and unwavering technique.  For my inaugural endeavor, I choose chocolate, a flavor that is the most difficult flavor to master, and turned to baking expert David Lebovitz for guidance. Lebovitz, an American sugar guru in Paris, writes a killer blog, which is where I found this recipe.  (Incidentally, I was fortunate enough to take a class from David when he was in Dallas and highly recommend his Perfect Scoop ice cream cookbook.)

My first attempt was a success and I even managed to create the little “pied,”  the distinctive band around the base of each cookie.  Here is my advice as a newly minted macaroon enthusiast: curb your impatience and allow the cookies to sit overnight.  In my excitement, I hastily ate one (ok, three) immediately upon cooling and was dismayed to find them a bit stiff. They need time to rest to settle into their optimal texture.

I also recommend the I Love Macarons by Hikaso Ogita, a great book that offers different ways to mix and match cookies and fillings with simple step-by-step directions.
Ingredients
Makes about fifteen cookies
Macaroon Batter
•    1 cup powdered sugar
•    ½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces)
•    3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
•    2 large egg whites, at room temperature
•    5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
•    ½ cup heavy cream
•    2 teaspoons light corn syrup
•    4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
•    1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch) ready.  Katy’s note: if you don’t have a pastry bag, use a large Ziploc bag with the tip cut off.
Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag.
Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch circles (about 1 T of batter), evenly spaced one-inch apart.
Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.
To make the chocolate filling:
Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.

12 comments on “Let’s Bake: Chocolate Macaroons

  1. Macarons, not macaroons. Etymologically related, but they’re entirely different cookies.

  2. I love how they called the recipe “simple”. I tried to make macarons once and they looked like goo-filled blobs. They tasted even worse.

  3. These sure don’t look like the macarons you will find in Paris. These look like the red neck version that you throw together and they ‘taste good despite how they look’.

  4. TheBrad brings up a subject that I have been throwing around to everyone the past few weeks. Macaron or macaroon? I think they are two different items, and the pasrty presented today is a macaron.

    And these macarons look very authentic. Look no futher than our favorite expat in Paris, David Lebovitz. Link below and an almost identical photo of the version he makes. Kudos to Katy and Christine.

    http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2005/10/french_chocolat.html

  5. Natalie, the owner of Natsumi on Henderson Avenue makes wonderful French macaron’s for Natsumi. They go great with her gelato and frozen yogurt.

  6. Well maybe they don’t look (or taste) like Laduree’s, but you have to salute the girls for the attempt even if their success is debatable!