Okay, so I've been putting off making these for as long as I can remember because I was afraid of the outcome. I've heard too many horror stories to not be apprehensive.
Then I found David Lebovitz's website and he quite frankly recounted his experiences baking macarons, both hit and miss. He was also kind enough to post his tried and true recipe for Chocolate Macarons.
It was surprisingly simple, they turned out fantastic, with the perfect 'foot', with a beautifully crispy shell and a fabulous, soft center. His were paired with a prune filling, but I opted for a classic chocolate ganache, to which I added peppermint extract, and they were phenomenal.
I am definitely making these again. Soon. And also, I am now empowered to try other flavors, lemon, raspberry, lime, pistachio... The possibilities are really endless!
One tip that I read while researching other recipes, but Mr. Lebovitz prefers matching up the shapes, is to trace a series of perfect circles to pipe your batter into. I decided to go that route, and I'm happy I did, the result was perfectly round meringues all very close to the same size.
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup powdered almonds
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tbsp. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with parchment and have a pastry bag with a plain 1/2-inch round tip ready.
Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps, use a food processor.
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 (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're working alone).
Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch circles (about 1 tbsp. each 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.
Chocolate Mint Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. light corn syrup
4 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
Heat cream in a small saucepan with corn syrup. When the cream just starts to boil around the edges, remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth, then stir in peppermint. Let cool completely before using.
I applied the ganache with an offset spatula, it could also be piped.
Makes 10 to 15 cookies depending on size.
Of course I could barely wait to get them together before I had to have one! I paired it with an espresso and it was amazing. Don't be afraid to try something new, you might be pleasantly surprised.