Macarons are one of my favorite cookies to make. They take a little more time to put together than your average chocolate chip cookie recipe, but they are always well worth the effort – especially when they have a filling that is as good as the one in these Dark Chocolate Coffee Macarons. The filling is a surprisingly easy to make dark chocolate and coffee ganache that is rich, creamy and flavorful. Most of the flavor in macarons comes from the filling, not from the shells, so it is important to always have a good filling in mind when you set out to make a batch.
That said, these chocolate shells do have a nice cocoa flavor to them. This is my go-to chocolate macaron shell recipe because the shells have a brownie-like flavor and a great consistency, with a crisp exterior shell and a moist, slightly chewy interior. You can bake the shells on parchment paper or on nonstick silicone baking mats. I sometimes use silicone mats when I’m baking on regular sheet pans, but I usually opt for parchment paper when baking macarons because I want the shells to get a crisp, flat bottom in the oven. An underbaked shell will be too soft and will be very difficult to work with (usually they just break as you try to get them off the pan), and a little extra heat on the bottom can ensure that your shells come off the pan cleanly every time.
I always bake my macaron shells and let them cool, then I prepare the filling. I like to make sure that all my shells are in order before making the filling so that I am ready to go with the filling is. This is because I often use chocolate ganache as a filling in my macarons since they are both flavorful and a wonderful “glue” for the shells as the ganache sets up between them. You can be quite generous with the ganache because it will set up after you pipe it into place, so you don’t need to worry about it oozing out when you take a bite.
This chocolate ganache is made with dark chocolate, heavy cream, espresso powder and vanilla. I opted for espresso powder over regular instant coffee because it has a more dramatic coffee flavor. For a mellower flavor or more of a mocha effect, you can certainly substitute in instant coffee power. Starbucks Via is also a great instant coffee to use in a recipe like this one due to its intense coffee flavor. The ganache may seem thin when you first mix it up, but it will thicken to a very creamy consistency as it cools and will be thick enough to easily pipe into place within a couple of hours of making it. This ganache recipe will make a little bit more than you will need, which means there should be plenty of leftovers for the chef to sample while waiting for the cookies to be ready.
I recommend letting your macarons sit in an airtight container for at least a few hours, or even overnight, before serving them. This not only allows time for the filling to set up, but it allows the filling and the shells to marry into one cohesive cookie. You’ll get a better, more delicious experience when the flavors have truly come together, just as flavors sometimes intensify in stews and chilis if you prepare them a day in advance and reheat them before serving.
Dark Chocolate Coffee Macarons
2 1/4 cups almond meal (180 g)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar (200g)
1/2 cup cocoa powder (30g)
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar (180g, granulated)
1/4 cup water
Dark Chocolate Coffee Ganache (recipe below)
Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together almond meal (finely ground almonds), confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add in two egg whites and stir mixture until it comes together into a very thick dough. This may take a few minutes, but the mixture will eventually all come together.
In a small saucepan, bring granulated sugar and water to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, in another large mixing bowl, beat remaining two egg whites until frothy. When sugar mixture comes to a boil, beat egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer on medium speed, drizzle the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites very slowly until all of the syrup has been incorporated and you have a thick, fluffy meringue.
Take 1/3 of the meringue mixture and mix it into the chocolate paste with the electric mixer. Fold in remaining meringue in two or three additions.
Transfer batter to a piping bag (or plastic bag) with an approx 1 cm opening. Pipe dough onto prepared baking sheets to form 1-inch discs (approx 1 tbsp per disc); batter will spread slightly after piping. Leave about 1 – 1 1/2 inches between discs on the baking sheet. Once all of the batter has been piped out, let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to form a “skin” that will give them a smooth, shiny top during baking.
While the macarons sit, preheat the oven to 350F.
Bake macarons for about 12 minutes, until the tops are set.
Cool macarons completely on the baking sheet. Once cool, match up the macaron shells into same-size pairs and pipe a small amount of Dark Chocolate Coffee Ganache in between the pairs to sandwich them together.
Store cookies in an airtight container.
They are best if they are given at least a few hours for the flavors and textures to marry, while stored in an airtight container, before serving.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies.
Dark Chocolate Coffee Ganache
5 oz heavy cream
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Remove from heat, stir in espresso powder and vanilla extract and pour over dark chocolate in a medium bowl. Allow mixture to stand for 1 minute to soften the chocolate, then gently stir with a spatula until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Allow to cool to room temperature (ganache will thicken as it cools), about 2 hours, before using. To fill macarons, transfer soft ganache into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and pipe in between the macaron shells.