Friday, October 27, 2006

Chocolate Macaroons

Here's a macaroon for our cookie marathon, but these are not the traditional coconut macaroons you may be accustomed to eating. We were very fortunate to make these last year in class with Chef Bob. These are light and delicious, filled with a decadent ganache, which is prepared the day before, and yet really not that difficult to make. If you are blessed with having a beautiful shiny new food processor, you are half-way there. For the rest of us, a small electric food chopper or a blender may also be used. The key to success is to get everything set up before you begin, all the equipment, ingredients, baking sheets, everything ready. If you have a friend or relative to help, the more the merrier. Once again, Chef Bob is the trend setter, because these little French macaroons are a big hit. You'll be seeing them in all the patisseries and upscale bake shops, available in a specatular array of flavor combinations. We offer a chocolate version here. More chocolate, why not. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE MACAROONS - adapted from Pierre Herme
makes 24 cookies

3/4 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups whole blanched or slivered almonds, no skins
1 pound powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided in fourths
6 egg whites (about 3/4 cup)
Optional: drizzling of white and dark chocolate

To make the chocolate filling for these little bites, combine the milk and butter in a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate. When smooth, pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

To make the macaroons, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment. Mix the sugar and almonds in the food processor until the almonds are finely ground. Add the cocoa and mix. In an impeccably clean mixer bowl fitted with a clean whisk, free of any grease, beat the egg whites until they are smooth and form stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula gently fold in the cocoa powder in fourths, ending with a thick batter. Spoon tablespoons of the batter onto the prepared pans, leaving about an inch apart. Bake for 11 minutes. Slide the parchment off the baking sheet onto the counter to cool.

To assemble these little delights, spread about a tablespoon of the ganache on the bottom of one macaroon and seal with the bottom of another, making a sandwich. Place on a tray and chill them for about on hour before serving. If desired, drizzle melted white and dark chocolate to garnish.

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