Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dark Chocolate Macarons with Bittersweet Ganache and Toasted Almonds

With encouragement from Susan I decided to attempt macarons tonight. I have seen several different types that Susan made and they all looked great. I have to admit that the whole idea of macarons worried me. I, too, have heard the horror stories about how hard they are to make, how tempermental. But, I told myself that worse case senerio I waste a couple of eggs and a little bit of sugar. But, on the positive side, maybe I will learn a little something along the way. :)

I followed a recipe by David Lebovitz that Susan had posted on her blog, adapting it slightly to make up for not having powdered almonds. I did as Susan did and used slivered almonds that I ground in my food processor with the powdered sugar.  I used the full three tbls. of dutch cocoa called for in the recipe and regular sugar as I don't have superfine.

The egg whites whipped up beautifully. I mixed the dry ingredients into the egg whites, folding gently as the recipe said. Put it all in a pastry bag and started piping little circles onto parchment paper. When I tapped (several times, each time progressively harder than the previous) the pan on the counter to flatten the circles, they didn't flatten. I baked the first batch and they not only came out tall and pointed (my hubby said they looked like acorns)(I can always count on him for constructive criticism)  they also scorched on the bottom. (I forgot to put the empty pan underneath the pan with the cookies). The next batch I used wet fingers to flatten the cookies and placed an empty cookie sheet under the one with cookies on it.
They turned out perfect, with little "feet" as mentioned in Susan's description of hers. They were crisp when first bitten into and then light and chewy. The chocolate flavor was intense, using dutch cocoa instead of regular cocoa was perfect for what I was looking for, which was a dark chocolate flavored cookie. I decided to take them a step farther and I made a chocolate ganache with heavy whipping cream and Ghiradelli's bittersweet chocolate chips. I tried putting two cookies together with the chocolate between them, but thought they were a bit too big for my taste, so I spread the ganache on top of each cookie and then sprinkled chopped toasted almonds on top. 

 Divine! The ganache and toasted almonds on top not only looked good, it really added a little extra to  the cookie. The bittersweet chocolate compliments the dark cocoa flavor, and the toasted almonds intensify the ground almond. Being a BIG chocolate person, these really hit the spot with me. And, they really weren't that hard to make. I think my batter was a bit too thick, and next time I might add a little less cocoa to see if that helps, but all and all I think they turned out super.Wonder if I can incorporate peanut butter in the next ones.
If you are reading this Susan, I think you may have created a monster! :D

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