Yield: about 2 dozen sandwich cookies

Ingredients

For the shells: 

  • 212 grams almond meal
  • 212 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 82 and 90 grams egg whites, divided
  • 236 grams granulated sugar, plus a pinch
  • 158 grams water

For the filling:

  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • About 12 maraschino cherries, sliced in half
« »
  • step 1: HideShow Images

    To make the shells, preheat the oven to 350˚ F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine the almond meal and confectioners’ sugar.  Whisk together to blend and break up any clumps.  (You may also use an equal weight of blanched or slivered almonds and grind them in a food processor, but I much prefer the convenience of almond meal, not to mention I think it ultimately results in a better texture.)  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in 82 grams of the egg whites.  Blend the egg whites into the dry ingredients until evenly mixed.  The mixture will be thick and paste-like.

  • step 2: HideShow Images

    Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water for the syrup in a small saucepan over medium-high heat with a candy thermometer clipped to the side.  When the temperature is around 200˚ F, combine the 90 gram portion of egg whites with a pinch of sugar.  Begin whipping on medium-low speed.  Continue whipping the whites on medium speed until they form soft peaks.  If soft peaks are achieved before the syrup reaches the target temperature, reduce the speed to low to keep the whites moving.

  • step 3: HideShow Images

    Once the syrup reaches 248˚ F, immediately remove it from the heat.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow drizzle until fully incorporated.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip the meringue until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Gently blend in a few drops of pink gel coloring. 

  • step 4: HideShow Images

    Add one third of the meringue mixture to the bowl with the almond mixture.  Fold in gently until the mixture is smooth.  A bit at a time, gently fold in the remaining meringue until the batter is smooth and runs in thick ribbons off of the spatula.  You may not need all of the meringue, so add it gradually.  (I typically use most but not all of it.)  Add the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip with about a ½-inch opening.  Hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet about ½-inch above the surface of the pan.  Steadily pipe rounds about 1¼- to 1½-inches in diameter.  The batter may create small peaks immediately after piping, but if it is the correct texture these will smooth themselves away after a minute or two.  If the batter is too stiff, the peaks will remain and the tops of the shells may not be totally smooth.  If the batter is too thin, the rounds will spread further.

  • step 5: HideShow Images

    Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325˚ F.  Bake for 9-12 minutes, until the tops are smooth and set and “feet” have formed around the bottom.  Let the shells cool just briefly on the baking sheet, maybe 5 minutes or so, and then peel away from the parchment.  They should come away easily and fully intact.  Transfer to a cooling rack.  Repeat as needed with the remaining batter, replacing the parchment paper with each batch.  (Bring the oven temperature back up to 350˚ F before baking a second sheet, and proceed as before.)  Once the shells are baked and cooled, match them up in pairs by size.

  • step 6: HideShow Images

    To make the filling, place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Warm the cream in the microwave or a small saucepan just until bubbling. Pour over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes before whisking into a smooth, thick ganache. Let the ganache sit until thick enough to pipe. (You may want to speed this up by chilling in the refrigerator or freezer and whisking every 5 minutes or so.) While the ganache is thickening, place the halved cherries on a paper towel or other clean kitchen towel to blot away excess liquid. When the ganache is thick enough, transfer to a piping bag with a medium plain round tip. Pipe a thin layer of ganache over the bottom shell of each macaron pair. Place a cherrie on top, top off with another thin layer of ganache and sandwich with the remaining matching shell. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

  • step 7: HideShow Images

    Notes: 

    • All of the measurements for macarons are listed by weight.  A kitchen scale is necessary for making macarons as volume measures are far less accurate and may result in a poor outcome.
    • For step-by-step photos of the macaron-making process, click here. I promise, it’s not as hard as you might think!
    • For especially evenly shaped cookies, trace 1¼ to 1½-inch rounds onto the parchment lining the pans. I use the bottom of a large pastry tip and it works perfectly.
    • A reader recently recommended using Williams Sonoma Gold Touch pans for baking these. I already had the pans but haven’t used them much for macarons previously. However, they will be my go-to choice from now on. They had really nice even results with fewer than typical exploded cookies.
    • These gel colors are my favorite for coloring macarons. Whatever you use, just be sure it is gel coloring (as opposed to liquid food coloring, which can affect the consistency of the batter and the eventual outcome of the cookie.)