Over the weekend, I found myself somewhat lacking in inspiration for things to make and blog about. I don’t think it’s that I’m getting burned out, I think it’s that it’s time to go grocery shopping again, and I’ve got a somewhat barren pantry. Still, after my friend Beth posted Facebook photos of her second successful attempt at making macarons, I thought I needed to give them another chance, and I decided I’d make some Mocha Macarons.
Beth has been to Paris and eaten macarons from Ladurée (lucky girl!), and has now made them twice. Another friend of ours hasn’t tried them yet, and while I gave them a shot once, they didn’t turn out. But, I had almond meal, confectioners’ sugar, and egg whites, and a day off, so I thought, what the heck? This time?
I have to admit, I was skeptical they’d turn out. For one, this recipe doesn’t call for weighing anything other than the granulated sugar–I know that weighing ingredients is more accurate and the preferred method for baking, especially when it comes to macarons. And the batter seemed too thick and grainy (and I did put my almond meal and confectioners’ sugar through the food processor and sieve a couple times). But imagine my surprise when I pulled these from the oven:
I was shocked they turned out! My macarons had feet! I was able to peel them off the parchment paper without trouble! I admit I accidentally cracked a couple with my fingernail when peeling them off the parchment, but that’s seriously the worst that happened.
(Can you tell I’m super-excited and really proud of myself?)
The final test came after letting them rest and the flavors fully develop.
They are GOOD! I’ve only had a macaron one other time in my life, after my friend Melissa brought me back a ginormous one from a bakery in the Twin Cities. They never seemed to gain traction here in SoDak. But now, I’m happy that I’ve (for the time being anyway) conquered the macaron in my own home.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine the almond meal and the confectioners' sugar in a food processor. Process for about a minute and a half, then sift through a fine-mesh sieve. If necessary, pulse any solids in the food processor, and pass through the sieve again. Whisk in the unsweetened cocoa powder.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and granulated sugar. With the whisk attachment, beat on low speed for 30 seconds to combine, then whip on high speed for 4-6 minutes, or until stiff glossy peaks form when lifting the whisk. Add the instant coffee or espresso powder, and whip on high for 30 more seconds.
Fold in half the dry ingredients, then fold in the remaining dry ingredients. Continue folding until the batter flows like lava--35 to 40 total strokes.
Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe batter into 1-inch rounds, spacing them about an inch apart. Tap the baking sheet 2-3 times on the counter, then rotate 90 degrees, tapping 2-3 more times. Rotate 90 degrees, and tap 2-3 times. If your baking sheets are thin, place a second baking sheet underneath. Allow the macarons to rest while preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake the macarons for 6 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and bake 7 more minutes. The macarons should be puffed up and have ruffles or "feet" along the bottoms. Cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet, placed on a wire rack.
While they're cooling, make the ganache. Combine the heavy cream and chocolate in a small saucepan, and heat on low. Once the chocolate begins to melt, whisk, and remove from the heat. Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth, then whisk in the vanilla. Cool until thickened and spreadable.
Peel the macarons from the parchment paper, matching in size, and spread ganache on half of the cookies. Top with the other half, then refrigerate in an air-tight container for 12-24 hours.