Rich. Creamy. Chocolaty! My French macarons may not look perfect, but they taste awesome! Just look at my pictures and salivate! Go on…look! And maybe if you have the time, you can try to make them yourself. In fact, I made these chocolate macarons on a Saturday night, so I think anyone can find some time to attempt these super sweet treats.

As I have said before, Justin and I watch a lot of TV and we especially love food competition reality shows.  A special visual treat for us was Bravo’s Top Chef Just Desserts, where we watched catty pastry chefs create unique and unusual desserts from week to week. One of the contestants, Morgan Wilson, was my favorite to watch and my #1 choice to win the competition. Unfortunately, he came in second place, but along the way, he taught me a lot about chemistry, baking, and macarons! That  talented chef baked a lot of macarons throughout the show and his beautiful little treat really intrigued me. Or maybe it just made me hungry! Either way, since the show aired, I have been dying to make macarons and until my sister made them successfully, I didn’t even think it was worth trying. Well, here it goes!

French Chocolate Macaron Ingredients:

adapted from David Lebovitz – living the sweet life in Paris

Macaron Batter:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup powdered almonds (about 2 oz. sliced almonds, pulverized)

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

5 tbsp granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling:

1/2 cup  heavy cream

2 tsp light corn syrup

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. I was reading comments on the recipe and one person suggested spraying the baking sheet with water before putting down the paper so the macaron cookies don’t stick. It worked for me.

Since the almond powder I purchased wasn’t fine enough (most are not), I placed the powdered sugar, almond powder and cocoa in a food processor and ground it together until there were no lumps.

In a standing mixer, I beat the egg whites, which had been sitting at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, until they began to rise and hold their shape. At that point, while the whisk was still whipping, I added the granulated sugar and whipped the whites for another 2-3 minutes, until they were stiff and firm. When I made my first batch of macarons, I don’t think I let the whites rise enough before adding the sugar. Because of that, the whites ended up a bit sticky instead of firm. So be wary of that.

At this point you want to be very careful not to mix your whites too much, or they won’t keep their rise. So I carefully folded half of the dry ingredients in to the whites with a flexible rubber spatula then added the rest. The directions say to then mix until just smooth with no streaks of egg white. When I was mixing the first batch, I mixed until I could see no more streaks of white, but the mixture was not so smooth. I guess I didn’t read the directions right. I added the non-smooth batter in to a plastic bag to create a homemade pastry bag (all you have to do is cut off a small piece of the corner and voila!) and piped the batter in to 1 inch circles on to the parchment paper.

Here are pictures of batch 1 and 2, so you can see the difference in the batter textures:

Batch 1 – not so pretty and kind of looks like something I don’t want to mention in a food blog!

Batch 2 – nice smooth batter  

At this point, I read a lot of different tips on how and when to cook the batter and so many contradicted each other. I could either leave the macarons on the counter for 30 minutes or place right in the oven. I put them right in the oven. I could double up the baking sheets, although I still don’t understand why. I just used one. I could open the oven  briefly after 8 minutes to let out some of the heat that makes the tops of the macarons crack or keep the door closed the whole way through. For the first batch, I left them closed. For the second batch, I opened the door. Not sure if it made a difference. One thing you should for sure do is wrap the baking sheet a few times on the counter top to flatter the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. They should rise in the oven and have a little “foot” on the bottom. My entire first batch cracked and only half of my second batch had the foot. Semi-success! Can you see the foot?

The macarons should cool completely before you remove them from the baking sheet. Next comes the filling. I actually used a really yummy chocolate filling from a can because I was so curious about it, but if you want to use the recipe above, here are the directions: 

Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let sit for one minute, then stir until smooth. Sit in the pieces of butter and let cool completely before using. So simple!

I spread a lot of filling on the inside of each macaron then sandwiched them together. I really overfilled them but I didn’t hear any complaints from my taste testers. I tried a macaron right after they were filled and they were quite tasty, but they were even better the next day! The center of the macarons became chewy and really complimented the filling nicely.

I can’t wait to try the recipe again. Practice makes perfect, and I really want to get these right! Any tips for me from someone who successfully baked macarons?