Monday, July 6, 2015

Chocolate Macaroons with Dark Chocolate Ganache Fillling

On my 9th birthday I received one of my favorite birthday gifts ever: Samantha Parkington, my first American Girl doll. She looked just like me with brown hair and eyes. I was excited. Little did I know that she would end up being the beginning of a life-long love affair with American Girl.

OK, so maybe that's a tad exaggeration. I only have one other doll - Kirsten Larson, who I bought with my own money right before I turned 10 - but I have been faithful to the company since I got Samantha, buying every single historical character book that came out (well, almost - I'm still missing a few individual short stories and I've never really been interested in the mystery books) as well as many of the advice and activity books they used to have. I even bought an Irish dance outfit for my girls and the Irish dancer who was part of their Girls of Many Lands collection back when dance was a big part of my life in high school (yes, you read that right - high school).

I've been slightly less interested in the Girl of the Year line, mainly because the girl doesn't always share an interest with me. But Grace, the 2015 Girl, does: like me, she has a knack for baking. When she was first introduced in January, I noticed that one of her specialties was macaroons, a meringue sandwich treat. So I decided to make them to eat while watching the movie (several of the Girls have gotten movie adaptations of their books, following in the footsteps of 4 historical characters).


I had actually attempted to make them back in May, when National Macaroon Day was on the horizon, with the intent to freeze them so I could eat some during the movie. But I completely failed at making the batter so I had to make them closer to watching the movie.

Take 2 didn't go so well either.

At least I made them this time?

Chocolate Macaroons with Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling (source)


Chocolate Macaroons

  • 7.2 oz (200 g) confectioner's/powdered sugar (I just used 1 cup)
  • 4 oz (115 g) finely ground blanched almonds (1/2 cup) (also, I used almond flour instead. Seems to be a good alternative/substitution)
  • 3 large egg whites (about 4 oz/ 112 g) (1/2 cup if using boxed egg whites that you can get at the store, which is what I did.*)
  • 1 oz (30 g) white granulated sugar (1/8 cup)
  • 1 Tbs + 1 tsp (20 g) unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate Ganache

Prepare the ganache before making the macaroons as it will take a while for it to thicken to piping consistency. You can also prepare it ahead of time and/or cool/thicken it in the refrigerator.
  • ½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
  • ¾ cup (3.6 oz/100 g) bittersweet or semisweet dark chocolate (I just used a whole 4 oz bar. The ganache turned out just fine)


  1. Chop the chocolate and put in an appropriately sized pyrex (heatproof) bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan gently until it comes just to the boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and luxurious. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. It should thicken to a spreading/piping consistency (so it won't run off the shells). If you need to, speed up the process by placing in the refrigerator until desired spreading/piping consistency, stirring occasionally. (I forgot to stir it so I took it out of the fridge at one point during baking and let it sit and soften)
  2. Prepare 2 large baking sheets. On 2 large pieces of white paper the size of your baking sheets, trace 1 to 1 ½-inch diameter circles (I used the wide end of my pastry tip) evenly spaced, leaving about ¾ - 1 inch between each circle. This will be your template to help you pipe even circles of batter onto the parchment paper. You will be able to reuse these endlessly. Place one paper on each baking sheet then cover with parchment paper. Set aside. (or do what I did and use a baking mats with guides.) Prepare a pastry bag with a plain tip. I use one with a ½-inch (1 ½-cm) opening. (I just used a batter dispenser I bought years ago. The opening was the same width and I didn't want to use up a pastry bag. Plus, it was easier to fill.)
  3. Sift the powdered sugar, the ground almonds and the cocoa powder together into a large mixing bowl then gently whisk together until perfectly blended. Whizzing the ground almonds again in a processor or clean grinder will make them even finer. Set aside.
  4. In a standing mixer or with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites for 30 seconds on low speed then increase speed to high and whip until the whites are foamy and no longer transparent. Gradually add the granulated sugar as you continue to whip the whites until you obtain a glossy meringue and all of the sugar has been beaten in. The meringue will be very stiff (turn the bowl upside down over your head and it shouldn't move) and be dense like marshmallow.
  5. Gently but firmly fold the whipped whites into the powdered sugar/ground almonds/cocoa, using a silicon spatula or the equivalent, turning the bowl as you lift and fold, making sure you fold in all the dry ingredients completely. Once all the dry ingredients have been moistened, give the batter several firm turns to blend well. When the batter is ready to pipe, it should flow from the spatula like lava or a thick ribbon. To test to see if you have folded it enough, drop a small amount onto a clean plate and jiggle it slightly. The top should flatten, not remain in a point. If it doesn't flatten, give the batter a few more folds and test again. You can also fold the powdered mixture into the meringue if it is easier for you.
  6. Fill your pastry bag with the batter. Pipe circles onto the parchment paper, using the traced circles on the template sheets to guide you, holding your pastry bag above each circle and piping into the center. If you have never done this before, it does take practice as the batter flows rather quickly. You must control the batter flow by gently squeezing the bag to push out about a teaspoon of batter then quickly release the pressure and then, in one quick movement, twist the bag up and away to cut off the flow.
  8. Allow the macaroons to sit out for 45 minutes to an hour. The top of each shell should form a "skin" (it will feel like it hardened a bit when gently touched and not stick to your skin).
  9. Preheat your oven to 280°F (140°C).
  10. Bake the shells for 15 - 25 minutes, depending on their size (when I touch macs that are not quite done, the top jiggles slightly as if there is still a liquid batter between the top and the "feet" so I let it continue to bake another minute.) I turn the trays back to front a little more than halfway through the baking.
  11. Remove the tray from the oven and immediately slide the parchment paper with the shells off of the hot baking sheet and onto a surface, table or countertop. (Because of the baking mats I wasn't able to do this. I just put the sheet on a cooling rack) Allow to cool completely before sliding the shells very gently off of the parchment by slipping a metal cake spatula under the shell as you lift it up or by slowly peeling the parchment paper from the back of the shells. Be careful or the center of the shell risks sticking to the parchment.
  12. When the macaroon shells are cool, pair the shells up evenly, each with a partner of equivalent shape and size. Pipe a dollop, about a teaspoon, of ganache filling onto half of the shells, the bottom shell in each pair. (Using the spoon I mixed the ganache with worked well for me) Carefully sandwich the shells together.

I screwed up. Big time. And I have two theories as to why:
  1. I didn't whip the egg whites long enough before adding the sugar. Sure there was foam on top. But when I tilted the bowl to see what was under the foam, the egg whites were still a bit transparent. But because I was impatient, I added the sugar.
  2. It was a scorcher the day I baked! We're talking upper 80s/lower 90s in temps. It also felt a bit humid. As the batter disks were sitting, I could see a chocolate-looking liquid seep out a little from under the disks. According to the blogger who posted the recipe, outside temp and humidity can affect the batter and thus, the macaroons.
I ended up getting flat brownie-cookie-like disks. I still made the sandwiches with the ganache - they just looked more like crunchy whoopie pies. They tasted pretty good. My last and final attempt will be next winter, when it's colder out and humid is nonexistent. Otherwise, if I ever want a macaroon, I'll have to hunt down a bakery that makes them.

*I also discovered something while looking on the egg whites box to see if I can freeze them for baking in the winter:

"Market Pantry Liquid Egg Whites are heated during pasteurization and therefore not recommended for meringues or angel food cake."

As in, I need to waste some egg yolks next time, which I was trying to avoid doing by buying the boxed egg whites.


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