Chocolate Macarons (Made with Consternation Part I)

I am not a book buyer. Especially not recipe books, when there are thousands of recipes and blogs online. When Borders went out of sale, and my mom and sister bought a ton of cookbooks, I thought, “What a waste of money and space.” But this book (Macaroons: For the ideal bite sized treat) has allowed me to make the perfect macaron.

So from now on I’ll keep my mouth shut.

Macarons are annoyingly finicky and time consuming. But the results…*sigh* there’s no cookie more beautiful. I recruited Chef Stephanie (Sherbert) and Chef Hans. I’m not saying it went smoothly at all, but if we three Uy kiddos (one, a gangly teenage boy) can bake a perfect macaron, that’s pretty good. 

Chef Hans: Isn’t food supposed to be made with love? I’m not feeling love in this. I’m feeling…consternation. 
Chef Uy: “Made with consternation” is hardly a great tagline for baked goods. 

We couldn’t decide what flavor to use for the filling. Hans wanted orange, while Steph wanted coffee.

Chef Hans: You know those orange flavored milano cookies? Those are epic! There aren’t coffee milano cookies for a reason. 

In the end, we did half and half. Only we couldn’t tell which one was which.

Dad: I’m going to keep eating them one after another until I manage to try both flavors. 
Chef Uy: You’re eating ALL of them!

Anyways, I could not believe how pretty they came out, especially since the almond meal was starting to border on almond butter consistency. Not only are they flat, shiny, and have feet, they’re not hollow either!

3/4 cups ground almonds
scant 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
2 extra large egg whites
1/4 cup superfine sugar

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
scant 3/4 cup heavy cream
Coffee Variation 1: instant coffee powder
Orange Variation 2: orange zest and orange extract

Sugar 101 Notes: 
Confectioner’s sugar (aka powdered sugar or icing sugar) is bought at the store and contains cornstarch! Superfine sugar (aka baking sugar) is only granulated sugar that is more finely ground (we used a food processor).
Granulated sugar is plain old sugar. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and a piping template underneath.

Sift ground almonds, confectioner’s sugar, and cocoa in a bowl.

Beat egg whites with a mixer until whites form soft peaks. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar until egg whites are glossy, fluffy, and hold soft peaks.

Fold the almond mixture, one third at a time, into the egg whites with a spatula. When the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, keep folding mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbonlike consistency.

Spoon batter into a plastic bag (or piping bag). Cut a corner cut off and pipe small circles (about 1 1/3 inches in diameter) onto prepared baking sheet. If the circles hold peaks instead of flattening, gently fold the batter a few more times.

Tap the baking sheets to get rid of air bubbles. Let stand out at room temperature for 30 min, until they form a hard shiny skin on top.

Preheat preheated oven at 325 F for 10 minutes. Let cookies cool completely before filling.

Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until just boiling and pour over chocolate. Stir until smooth. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, stirring until thick.

Size match macarons and align so that the bottom cookies faces up and the top cookies face down. Spoon ganache into plastic bag with corner cut off and pipe to sandwich macarons together.

Notes: The amount you fold the macaron batter is crucial. If you don’t fold enough, they’re too stiff, too high, and don’t look smooth. If you overfold, then it becomes too liquid and then piping is a big mess. 

We had some difficulty with the ganache; the original recipe called for 3.5 oz chocolate for 3/4 cup heavy cream, but that was rather liquid, even after refrigerating for some time. We melted some chocolate chip and stirred it in to thicken it nicely.

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