I received Michel Richard's HAPPY IN THE KITCHEN cookbook, an early Mother's day gift from my son. All the recipes look fantastic specially the desserts and pastries and the cooking methods seem uncomplicated for the home cook.
Naturally, I went straight to the desserts section of the book and decided the first recipe I'll try is the Black And White Macaroons. Michel Richard calls these cookies macaroons which shouldn't be confused with coconut macaroons. I have made macarons just once last year and although they were delicious, the cookies were not as chewy as they should be and they didn't have "feet" and therefore not photogenic.
The recipe in this cookbook is very simple and pretty much straightforward. It took just a little over an hour to put together and I'm happy that my macarons have feet, not to mention deliciously crunchy and chewy. I can honestly say after preparing one recipe from this book I am on my way to being 'appy in the kitchen.
Black And White Macaroons
½ cup slivered almonds
1 cup confectioner's sugar
½ vanilla bean
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces, very soft
- Place the almonds in the food processor and pulse, then process until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides and redistribute the nuts to grind them evenly. Add the confectioner's sugar and process until well combined. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds from the pod into the processor (reserve the bean for another use), and pulse to combine. Transfer into a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, add half of the sugar. Increase speed to high and sprinkle in the remaining sugar. Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. Place the whites on top of the almond mixture and fold to combine.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch tip; or cut an opening directly in the end of a disposable pastry bag. Pipe 28 cookies into each sheet (4 cookies across and 7 down): Holding the tip of the pastry bag perpendicular and ¼ inch above the baking sheet with one hand, apply even pressure to the end of the pastry bag with the other hand while slowly pulling the bag up from the baking sheet, to pipe a 1-inch round macaroon. Once the macaroon is formed, move the bag in a circular motion as you pull it away to release the bag from the macaroon. Continue piping the macaroons, leaving 1 inch between them.
- Let the macaroons sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to air-dry and form a light crust. Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
- Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the pans once halfway through baking. They should be firm on the outside but the centers should remain soft.
- Meanwhile, prepare the ganache. Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Place the cream and chocolate in a small glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, then stir the chocolate. Continue to melt and stir at 30-second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted when stirred, 2 to 3 minutes total. Stir the butter until thoroughly combined.
- Place the bowl over the ice water and stir until the ganache is thickened to a spreading consistency. Remove from the ice water and let stand at room temperature until ready to use.
- Remove the macaroons from the oven and place the pans on a cooling rack to firm up enough to move them, then using an offset spatula, transfer the macaroons to a rack to cool completely.
- Place the ganache in a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch tip, or cut an opening directly in the end of a disposable pastry bag. Turn over half of the cookies, and pipe about ¾ teaspoon of ganache onto the bottom of each one. Top each with another cookie and press very lightly to sandwich.
- They can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.