There are two types of macaroons; the American ones that are often cloying sweet and heavily laden with coconut and then there are the French ones that are light, fluffy, and only slightly sweet. These little sandwich cookies can be dressed up or down depending on the filling. And anything goes; from fruit curds and jams to ganache and butter cream, all are heavenly. There is a bakery here in Tirana that is dubbed “the French Bakery” and they make some of the best macaroons I’ve ever tasted. Inspired by them, I decided to try my hand at my own.
I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found in Fine Cooking Magazine. You can make your own almond meal but it is much easier to buy it pre-made. King Arthur Flour makes a good quality flour and ships quickly to those of us who are overseas. Always a fan of the combination of chocolate and hazelnut I decided to bring these two flavors together by putting a smear of Nutella between two chocolate cookies. The results? Amazing!
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MACAROONS
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/3 cups finely ground blanched almond meal
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 to large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup Nutella, chocolate-hazelnut filling
- Combine the powdered sugar, almond meal, and cocoa powder in a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork.
- Pass through a medium-coarse sieve to lighten and aerate the mixture.
- In a glass measuring cup, add enough egg whites to reach halfway between the 1/3 and 1/2 cup measure. Transfer to a large bowl.
- With an electric mixer beat the egg whites on medium speed until they form soft peaks when the beaters are lifted; add the almond extract.
- Beat on high-speed until the mixture forms stiff but not dry peaks when the beaters are lifted.
- Pour all of the almond flour mixture over the egg whites. With a large rubber spatula, fold the almond mixture into the egg whites just until it is fully incorporated. The egg whites will deflate somewhat, but the batter will be thick and moist and almost pourable.
- Drop heaping teaspoons of batter 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the surface of the disks are ever so slightly dry. This slightly dry crust will help form the characteristic little “platforms: at the base of each macaroon as they bake.
- Meanwhile, pre=heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the cookie sheets in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 300 degrees. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the macaroons are barely starting to turn golden. Remove the pans from the oven and allow to cool.
- When the cookies are cool, life a corner of the parchment pan liner. Holding a cookie in one hand, peel the parchment paper away from the cookie. Repeat until all of the cookies have been removed.
- Spread 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the Nutella on the flat side of half of the cookies. Top with an equal sized cookie to form a sandwich.
- Place the sandwiches on a cookie tray and cover with plastic wrap. Put the tray in the refrigerator overnight to allow the cookies to mellow. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Yields: 30-36 1 3/4 inch sandwich cookies.