First made by convent nuns during the eighteenth century, macaroons (macarons in French) are one of my most favorite things about being in Paris, and I love walking through the city nibbling on them. I usually get them from either Dalloyau or Ladurée.
If you’re not going to Paris soon, whip these up and make-believe. They’re not at all like the macaroons most of us grew up with. You’ll love the textural contrast between the crisp cookies and the luscious creamy ganache filling.–Lori Longbotham
LC Flour-Free, Dairy-Free, And Fancy-Free Note
These ethereally airy macarons turn decadent beyond imagination when slathered with a sinful ganache-meets-buttercream situation. Natch, the lovely little chocolate macarons are also quite nice—and still quite the indulgence—when nibbled in their simplest form, free of filling and, as a consequence, free of flour or dairy. They’re either sent from heaven above or from Paris abroad. Wait, is there a difference?
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pulse the almonds with 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the cocoa powder and the remaining 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and pulse until well blended.
Beat the egg whites with the salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large bowl just until the whites form soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Add the granulated sugar and beat just until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. With a whisk or a rubber spatula, gently fold in the almond mixture.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe out 1-inch-diameter mounds about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the tops are cracked and appear dry but the macarons are still slightly soft to the touch.
Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment paper, to barely dampened kitchen towels and let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully peel the paper off the macarons and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. (The macarons can be made 1 day in advance and stored in layers separated by wax paper in an airtight container.)
Make the filling
Bring the cream just to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Add the chocolate and butter and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate covered, for at least 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm enough to hold its shape when spread.
Assemble the macarons
If desired, transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe the filling, or spread it with a table knife, generously on the flat side of half of the macarons. Top with the remaining macarons, flat side down, pressing together gently to form sandwiches. (The macarons can be stored in layers separated by wax paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)