As I continue to crave the chocolate-peanut butter flavor combination, keep looking for different things to do with it.  At one end of the spectrum, we have the super indulgent, no frills peanut butter cheesecake swirl brownies.  At the other end are these peanut butter chocolate French macarons.  The light, delicate texture and subtle flavor balance of these cookies makes them a perfect hybrid – fancy French cookie meets classic American flavor combo.  One that this baker is pretty darn happy about.

If you are unfamiliar with macarons, you may want to read my first post about them here.  Also, Helene of Tartlette is the queen of macarons and has a fantastic tutorial with some troubleshooting tips.  In this particular recipe, a portion of the almonds are replaced with peanuts so the shells have a peanutty flavor.  I filled all of them with a thin layer of ganache, as you can see, but also added a surprise little dollop of straight peanut butter in the center of each cookie.  I think that really took these from good to great, and kicked the sweet-salty combo up a notch.  Each time I experiment with macarons they get better and better.  Now I just need to decide what flavor to make next.

Note: All of the measurements for this recipe are listed by weight.  A kitchen scale is necessary for making macarons.  Attempting to make these by volume measure would likely be a waste of time and ingredients, so volume measurements are not provided.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Macarons
Yield: about 2 dozen sandwich cookies

For the shells:
55 grams almonds (blanched or slivered)
55 grams peanuts (blanched, unsalted)
200 grams confectioners’ sugar
100 grams egg whites, aged at room temperature for 12-24 hours
50 grams granulated sugar
Finely chopped peanuts, for garnish (optional)

For the filling:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¾  cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. butter
½ cup creamy peanut butter

Pulse the almonds, peanuts and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground and well blended.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy.  Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until a smooth, shiny meringue with stiff peaks forms.  Add the ground almond-peanut mixture to the bowl with the meringue and quickly but gently fold together using a wide rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  You want to achieve a thick batter that ribbons or flows from the spatula when lifted.

Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.  Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain wide round tip.  Pipe into small rounds on the prepared baking sheets (each round should be about 1-1½ inches in diameter), spaced about 1 inch apart.  Sprinkle half of the rounds lightly with chopped peanuts for garnish, if using.  Let sit at room temperature for about an hour to develop a hard shell.

Preheat the oven to 300˚F.  Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on size.  Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before moving the cookies.

While the cookies are cooling, make the ganache.  Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.  Combine the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.   Bring the cream mixture to a simmer, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let stand 2 minutes, then whisk gently in small circular motions until a smooth ganache forms.  Let the mixture cool until it is thick enough to pipe.  (To speed chilling, transfer the bowl to the freezer or refrigerator and let cool, stirring every 10 minutes, until thickened.)

Once the cookies are totally cooled, match them up by size.  Pipe a thin layer of ganache onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair.  With the peanut butter in a separate pastry bag, pipe a small dollop of peanut butter in the center of each layer of ganache.   Sandwich together with the remaining cookie, pushing the ganache to the edges.  Store in an airtight container.

Source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally from Tartlette