Now that I have mastered the technique for French macarons, I have been experimenting with different flavor combinations. For the holidays, I thought chocolate praline macarons would be fun. I’ve found that the plain and chocolate macaron cookies are the most reliable and come out the best. The praline filling involved a few steps, but I liked the nuttiness it added to the cookies. The paste that you make to incorporate into the filling is really a nut butter; it reminded me a little bit of Nutella with the hazelnut flavor. I used the extra paste that I had to spread on toast to liven up breakfast!
- Chocolate Macarons
- almond flour - 4 ounces
- powdered sugar - 7 ounces
- egg whites - 4 large, at room temperature
- unsweetened cocoa powder - 1 ounce
- granulated sugar - 3 ½ ounces
- Praline Filling Recipe - Below
- Praline Paste
- hazelnuts - 4 ½ ounces
- almonds - 4 ½ ounces
- granulated sugar - 9 ounces
- Praline Filling
- Praline Paste - Above
- semi-sweet chocolate pieces - 4 ounces
- unsalted butter - 2 tablespoons
- heavy whipping cream - 3 ½ fluid ounces
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift powdered sugar and almond flour together into a large mixing bowl. Repeat the process two additional times discarding any small portion of the mixture that does not go through the sifter on the final round. Sift in cocoa powder. Set mixture aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a wire whip attachment, whisk egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated, scrape down sides of the bowl and increase speed to high, whisking until stiff, firm, glossy peaks form.
Sift the almond flour mixture (for the fourth time now) one-third at a time over the egg white mixture and carefully fold into egg whites without deflating the meringue. To do this, take spatula around the edge of the bowl moving in one direction the entire time, occasionally running the spatula through the middle. Once all of the almond flour mixture has been incorporated, you deflate the meringue mixture by moving the spatula around the bowl again, this time pressing the mixture down into the sides of the bowl as you go. Do this a few times. You want the consistency of the batter to be nicely firm and drip slowly from the spatula, like lava.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip; I use a #10 sized tip. Pipe the batter straight down (not at an angle) into 1 ½ inch round circles. Once the tray is full, slam the baking sheet on the counter to release trapped air in the macarons, turning the tray as you go to hit on all sides. Let the macarons stand at room temperature for 30 minutes until a slight skin forms. Macarons are ready to bake when they no longer stick to a finger when lightly touched.
Bake one sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 14 minutes. Let macarons cool on sheet for 2 to 3 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the filling, you want to make the praline paste first by combining the sugar and nuts in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely melted and caramelized. This takes about 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the nuts!
Pour out the mixture on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and spread it out into a thin layer. Allow the mixture to harden as it cools completely.
Break up the mixture into small pieces and place them in a food processor. Crush the nut mixture into a smooth paste, scraping down the sides as needed.
To make the filling, place the chocolate pieces and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl and heat at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Fold in the butter and praline paste and mix well.
Allow the filling to set before assembling macarons.
To assemble, match up the macarons in pairs based on size and shape. Fill a pastry bag with the praline filling and pipe a small sized mound on half of the shells. Sandwich shells together with their other half.
** Macarons do not keep well. If making in advance, do not pipe the filling between cookies. Store the macaron cookies in an airtight container with parchment paper between layers at room temperature, and store the praline filling in an airtight container at room temperature. Wait to pipe in praline filling until the day of use.