Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
Last year for my sister’s 25th birthday, my mom and I trekked all over the city collecting macarons. The first part of our goal was to surprise the birthday girl with 25 (yes, an ambitious number) of these fancy (and easily squished) cookies. Our second goal was to find the very best in Paris.
We were successful in our quest and ended up in Montmartre (the best place to surprise someone with a plate-full of macarons) with four different names. Of course, we didn’t tell my sister or my husband which macarons came from where. Here was the verdict:
4. Random corner boulangerie (so-so compared to the others)
3. Ladurée (well-known and delicious, but on the sweeter side and not as original as the winner)
2. La Maison du Chocolat (pretty close to heaven)
…According to us, the very best macarons in Paris are from….
(My favorite was olive oil and vanilla)
What’s the connection to the cake? Well, it’s already been a year since this macaron hunt (oh, yes, and we’ve been back to Pierre Hermé since!) and last weekend my sister celebrated another birthday. Since the weather’s been so nice (well, until yesterday), we had a picnic and I wanted to surprise her with a cake. I always bring my staple moeulleux au chocolat and wanted something more original. It’s hard to beat a pile of macarons! That was my inspiration, though – almonds. They are one of the essential ingredients in French macarons. So, I altered my recipe a bit and came up with a cake I was quite happy with. More moist than ever.
In this recipe, I used salted butter and a bit less sugar.
1 1/2 sticks (170 grams) salted butter
8.8 ounces (250 grams) bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (50 grams) white flour
1 cup (125 grams) ground almonds
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
2. Slowly begin melting butter over low heat.
3. Separate eggs.
4. Put sugar in mixing bowl, add egg yolks and mix.
5. Begin melting chocolate in double-broiler.
6. Add butter to sugar/egg-yolk mixture and mix.
7. Combine flour, salt and ground almonds, then add to the rest of the batter and mix.
8. Add melted chocolate and mix.
9. Beat egg whites until they are stiff and carefully fold into batter.
10. Butter a round baking pan and pour in mixture.
11. Cook until the edges begin to dry and break away from the pan (10 or more minutes). The inside should remain moist and stick to a knife when tested. Keep an eye on it and don’t overcook!
If you’re still in a cooking mood, try your hand at macarons. This is a fabulous book: Mad About Macarons! by Jill Colonna.