I am the queen of using up leftovers – every last drop. Not just dinner leftovers or leftover pancakes, but that last splash of milk and the last scoop of canned pumpkin sitting in the fridge. I love it when all the ingredients get used exactly to create a new food (sometimes on purpose because I alter the recipe to use exactly that amount). Cream becomes creme brulée and chocolate ganache, and leftover egg whites leftover from the yolks used for creme brulée become… Macarons!
Now careful when you read that word. Do you notice two O’s?
No, you don’t. It’s not macaroooooon.
Do you pronounce that last syllable like the close friend of Harry Potter?
Well, no, not exactly. (Maybe if you were saying his name while gasping for air and choking on a shard of maca… anyway). Do you speak French? Well then forget it.
Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, a French macaron is a delicate meringue-like cookie sandwiched together with a dreamy filling of buttercream or ganache. They are notoriously expensive when sold at chic little boutiques like L.A. Burdick’s or La Durée in Paris, but for good reason. You must whip the egg whites just right, gently fold in the almond meal, sugar, and cocoa powder, and carefully and evenly distribute each dollop so that they are all the same size and flat enough to sit rounded side down when on display.
After reading David Lebovitz’s account of his time living in Paris (thanks Auntie Jenkins!), I decided to try my hand at making the famed French treat. I had volunteered at a French pastry class at a cooking school in Ohio where we’d made the very same recipe from his book and yet I’d never tried to make the darn things. I decided so many French recipes have an aura of difficulty hanging over them, when maybe all that was really needed was precision and deliberateness. So I made them (ok so I am not always that precise) and I have to say that though they were not as perfect and beautiful as those that can be sold in stores, they were definitely delicious and adorable.
And even better than the fact that they were adorable and delicious – I used up the rest of the cream exactly, and the amount of chocolate I had pilfered from the Divine 70% cocoa solids chocolate bar had left just enough for the creamy ganache.
from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
1 cup (100 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 cup almond flour (about 2 oz sliced blanched almonds, pulverized)
3 T. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 T. granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. light corn syrup (I left this out)
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 T. salted or unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag ready with a plain tip. To make the cookies, grind the powdered sugar, almond flour, and cocoa in a blender or food processor until there are no lumps and all the dry ingredients are fine and powdery.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer or by hand, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites in 2 or 3 batches with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag. (Use someone else to hold the bag or prop it up in a tall glass and fold the top over.)
Pipe the batter onto the baking sheets in 1-inch circles (1 T. batter each), evenly spaced apart. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the cookies a bit. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until they feel slightly firm. Let cool completely.
To make the ganache, heat the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let sit 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the butter. Let cool to room temperature before using. (Alternatively refrigerate until slightly firm, being sure to stir it every 10 minutes or so to evenly cool it down. Do not let harden or it will be impossible to spread without breaking your cookies!)
Spread of a bit of chocolate filling on the flat side of the cookie and then sandwich together (gently) with another one. You can also pipe the filling on. You may have some extra filling.
Allow to sit in an airtight container at least one day to meld the flavors.
P.S. If you don’t speak French, my post title means “All of that for some macarons!” It comes from a line in a great French song where the singer/rapper complains about things that bother him (ça m’enerve!). One thing that bothers him is all the people who wait in line at Paris’ famous pastry shop La Durée, all for some macarons. He concludes, however, “Mais bon, il parait qu’ils sont bons.” (Oh, well, apparently they’re good). Check it out.