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it was nice while it lasted

Recipe: chocolate macarons

My overhauled website is up! The gallery is not up. That will probably have to wait until after Chinese New Year because I am a paranoid Good Chinese Daughter. If you happen to find errors or broken links, please let me know via email. I got tired of proof-reading it after several hours. Sometimes I think I should just shut up.

I looked across to the Continental Divide this morning when I let Kaweah out into the yard. Cooler weather is coming back. There is a formidable bank of dark, angry clouds sitting over the mountains, screaming past overhead. The winds are up. They sound and feel violent. I love weather.

Just yesterday I was skiing in a short-sleeve shirt and a thin, hard-shell jacket, gliding down the mountain with my ladies in the sunshine. It was 50°F. Too hot for goggles, I pulled out my sunnies. Felt like spring. But anytime is a good time to offer your friends a box of chocolate macarons. Nothing works up your appetite like a morning of tele, and these betties earned it.

i am in love with dutch-process cocoa

I had cut my teeth on pistachio macarons last month under the unwavering guidance of beloved Tartelette. I think she is one of the best human beings on this Earth. Obviously, I had issues of my own to work out at my elevation, but managed a decent first attempt (or second attempt as the first ones were hollow).

ready to grind into a fine meal

The reason I chose pistachio was because I *love* pistachio and it had a festive feel for December. But I knew there was no avoiding the next step… chocolate macarons. Because everyone I know is crazy for chocolate. I can hear Vader’s voice now, “Luke, it is your destiny.” And so it was. But not quite.


I went in search of a chocolate macaron recipe at Tartelette’s place first, then wandered over to Mr. Lebovitz’ site. Wow, he had done a lot of research. So I gave it a try and my macarons came out with the texture of… what do they call it? Rocks. I know it’s not David, it’s me and my blasted altitude.

the crux: macaronage

Whimpering to my dear friend, I asked Helen if she had a chocolate mac recipe for me to screw up. She sent me to her snickers macarons recipe which I easily turned into chocolate macs, substituting almonds for the peanuts. And you know what? It worked. I heart Helen.

pipe the precious goodness

Consider my failures to be research in high-altitude baking. While Helen suggests letting the disks of batter sit for an hour, mine needed only 30 minutes. I know that is in large part because of the discrepancy in her humidity (are you kidding me? Charleston, South Carolina? I have to wring out the emails she sends me because they are so damp) and our dryness in the Rockies. And I inadvertently made a few other discoveries.


It wasn’t rainbows and lollipops from the get go. My first batch had several stickers, as in, their innards stuck to the parchment and disemboweled themselves. Unsightly. Seems that every time I make macarons, I make them twice. First to learn and second to fix. The second batch was better and the difference was that I used dark baking sheets instead of my silver baking sheets (and this was only because I was too lazy to wash the silver ones for reuse – ha ha!)

more like it

I had leftover chocolate espresso buttercream and espresso ganache from the birthday cake I made last week. They both work beautifully with the chocolate macarons. You should have seen the faces of everyone who tried one. Worth every bit of effort.

i think i have found the perfect gift

Chocolate Macarons
[print recipe]
slightly modified from Tartelette

110 g blanched almonds
200 g minus 2 tbsps powdered sugar
2 tbsps cocoa powder (I used Dutch process)
3 egg whites (about 100 g), aged a day, room temperature*
50 g sugar
1 cup espresso ganache or chocolate espresso buttercream

*Helen said I could use egg whites that have been in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or longer and I’ve used some as old as 4-5 days with equally good results. Just be sure to bring them to room temperature.

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and pulse until well-blended. Whip the egg whites until foamy and gradually add the granulated sugar while whipping until a shiny meringue forms (but not too dry). Add the almond mixture to the meringue and quickly incorporate the mixture into the meringue while taking care not to overbeat. You want to achieve a batter that flows and “ribbons” for at least 5 seconds. Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a large plain piping tip (Ateco 809 or 807) and pipe small rounds onto a baking sheet (Note to myself: use the darker baking sheets) lined with parchment paper. The rounds should be about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and at least an inch apart.

Sea-level: Let the macarons sit out for an hour to develop a hard shell. Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on size.

@8500 ft. (and my low humidity): Let macarons sit out for 30-40 minutes until a hard shell develops. Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake for 14 minutes depending on size.

Let cool. Remove from parchment paper. Pipe chocolate ganache or buttercream onto a macaron and sandwich with a second macaron. Makes about 24.

chocolate espresso buttercream
adapted from Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers

8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tsps instant espresso powder
1 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
5 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar

Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, and 2 teaspoons espresso powder in top half of double boiler. Allow to heat for 8 to 10 minutes, transfer to a stainless steel bowl and stir until smooth. Set aside until needed. Place egg whites and sugar in a Kitchenaid mixing bowl. Set bowl over 1 inch of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk gently until mixture reaches 140°F. Remove from heat and set on Kitchenaid mixer with balloon whisk. Whisk on speed 4 until stiff. Turn down whip speed to 3rd and whip until cool to the touch (this takes a while – should be cooler than your hand). Change to a paddle and gradually add soft butter by tablespoon pieces. Mix to emulsify. Once desired consistency has been reached, fold in cooled chocolate until well incorporated.

espresso ganache
from Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers

1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsps unsalted butter
2 tbsps granulated sugar
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp instant espresso powder

Heat the heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place 8 ounces semisweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and espresso. Let sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth. Keep at room temperature until ready to use.

51 nibbles at “it was nice while it lasted”

  1. cindy says:

    i have made succesful macrons once…and it was from helen’s recipe, she really is fantastic. these are great and you are wonderfully ambitious for trying them so many times. maybe one day i will get off my slacker butt and try, try again. what a nice treat!

  2. Rosa says:

    Tartelette’s recipe is flawless. Your macarons look very pretty and perfect!



  3. Amy says:

    “You don’t know the power of the….Dutch Process cocoa.” Jen, the macaron force is strong with you.

    Anyway, chocolate macarons are on my list of things to learn to make this year, and I’ll definitely be coming back here for the recipe! Yay to you for tackling your second round of them, I’m sure they were devoured with much appreciative murmuring.

  4. Amy says:

    (And with my above comment I reveal myself as the big star wars fan that I am.)

  5. Caitlin says:

    Perfect gift indeed. I love chocolate macarons, although coffee ones come in a close second. Yours look wonderful!

  6. Lily says:

    I had the same problem of the middles getting stuck onto the parchment. Is it really fixed by the difference in baking pans? And I’m still practicing getting uniformly shaped cookies…yours are perfect no matter what the inside looks like! :)

  7. mimi says:

    gorgeous macs, what a wonderful gift! they are on my list to make again before i leave, so thanks for the reminder about humidity, or lack thereof.

  8. Culinarywannabe says:

    You are one determined macaroon maker! The results are impressive and I’m sure your friends like them even more for all your efforts!

  9. Margie says:

    This is one item that scares the pants off of me. I’ve never attempted them for the very fear that they would fail me, or is that, I fail them?

    I love the looks of that recipe…and I definitely love the finished product. I am sampling today via, Taste-Tango, a new app written especially for food blogs. It’s priceless!


  10. jennywenny says:

    Mmmm must have a try. I had one go and they werent too bad, but I realise now they were all cracked, so I’ll have another try when I’m feeling brave! Oh and I have some time, HA!

  11. Dragana says:

    Jen, I just browsed your new site – it rocks! You are so talented in so many ways. Congrats for succeding in making Helen’s high-altitude macarons – I wish I was one of your betties!

  12. Passionate Eater says:

    Even despite those little holes from sticking, I would still eat those beauties. Just cover them up with a little ganache, and they are good to go!

  13. Jenny says:

    The ones that disemboweled themselves can be called the Braveheart macarons….for Valentine’s???

  14. Cynthia says:

    Perfect, perfect macarons! Even the ones that stuck to the parchment look good. Whenever I make macarons, It seems half of them bake without those little feet they have, and the other half look good. I can never get them consistent.

  15. Debbie says:

    They look so good and I need to get up the courage to tackle making them sometime. Irresistable!

  16. peabody says:

    I have many a first to learn batches and I live at sea level. ;)
    Those look mighty tasty my dear.

  17. Mrs Ergül says:

    The thing about having to bake things twice happens to me a lot and I haven’t even tried making macarons. I wonder how many times I have to make them to get them right.

    And Chinese New Year is so nearrrrrrrrrrrrr and I haven’t even started on my Chinese New Year baking! This is the first year I am baking our own CNY goodies, I hope I don’t screw up too much, wish me luck! And boy, am I glad I don’t have to worry about the reunion dinner! My aunt makes our reunion dinner every year, and that is for at least 30 of us! I’m sorry I’ve rattled a little too much!

    Gong xi fa cai in advance! Shen ti jian kang too!

  18. Tartelette says:

    I keep forgetting to tell you about hollow shells, sometimes it is due to the batter not being stiff enough (that difficult line to find and not cross, which makes these buggers so tempting to master!!) They looks perfect!
    I am so thrilled to see you are going to smack the Overall category!! Seriously well deserved.

  19. Asianmommy says:

    These macaroons look beautiful! I would love to get them as a gift!

  20. Patricia Scarpin says:

    I love learning from you, my favorite ladies! These look exquisite, Jen – and I should be so lucky as to receive such precious gift!
    I want to try my hand at macarons again, soon.
    Oh, your website looks wonderful – I think the black makes it very elegant!

  21. Fin says:

    Lovely. Sigh. Any thoughts on how to make these without nuts? I wonder what other ground flour etc could substitute for the almonds.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Come On People! Let’s Vote For Jen!!!

    They will not let me vote a second time, so all you who have not yet voted… GO VOTE NOW!!! (time is running out)

  23. Aaron K says:

    Hi Jen! I bought 3 of these this morning from Europane (caramel sea salt, pistachio, and hazelnut). When I came home with them, Melinda said you were making them! Wow!

    I hope you win the blog prize (and I also hope the prize is millions of dollars).

  24. jenyu says:

    Cindy – I don’t think I would have tried them over and over again if I didn’t love macarons so much :) To eat AND to make! They are so awesome and fun and challenging.

    Rosa – yes, her recipes are awesome :) Thanks!

    Amy – Yeah, I think a big part of making macarons is practice, so you can get a feel for what the batter consistency should be. A lot of this is not stuff you can read about, but stuff you have to see and practice with. But I love them! You know I love your geeky self :)

    Caitlin – oooh coffee – that is next on my list, perhaps?!

    Lily – well, I’m guessing it might be that the darker pans make the base hotter? I confess that I don’t understand all the ins and outs of macaron making :( A lot of factors get thrown out of wack because of my elevation above sea level.

    Mimi – thanks!

    Culinarywannabe – oh, I think they’ll just like them because macarons are so awesome as they are!

    Margie – I was intimidated too, but as long as you are prepared not to be successful the first time around, I think it’s not so bad.

    Jennywenny – good for you to not be deterred!

    Dragana – thank you! If you lived here, you’d be getting some macarons from me :)

    Passionate Eater – ha ha ha :) I just popped a few in my mouth. Love macarons on their own!

    Jenny – ha ha ha!

    Cynthia – For the feet, I think it’s important to let the macarons dry before baking. Tap the top lightly to see if they are dry. This will encourage feet, me thinks.

    Debbie – yes, they are challenging, but really fun to make!

    Peabody – hee hee ;) Thanks, hon!

    Mrs. E – Good on ya for baking your own goodies. You have really developed your skills, my dear! Gong xi fa tsa!

    Tartelette – good point. Looks like I have more test batches in the kitchen ;) Thanks for your guidance, your recipe rocks!

    Asianmommy – :)

    Patricia – thanks so much, dear.

    Fin – hmmm, that I don’t really know. You should direct your question to Tartelette, she would be able to give you a definitive answer.

    Elizabeth – oh, you’re very sweet. Thanks for the sentiment, but I am completely cool with just being nominated :) xxoo

    Aaron – I hear those things cost $3 a piece! !!!! If you guys like them, I may try to ship some to you one day… prolly in winter, eh? ah ha ha, I don’t think millions of dollars is the prize ;)

  25. Aaron K says:

    I bought them with pastries, so I don’t know what the individual cost is. But it’s a pricey place in general.

    The caramel and sea salt one was the best and worth trying. Otherwise, I liked them, but I’m not ga-ga over them like the people on Yelp are. Melinda felt the same way. Probably we needed to have them with coffee to balance out the sweetness.

    Of course any food you make would cause us all to do a big Happy Dance.

  26. jenyu says:

    Aaron – I’ve never been to Europane before. They are pretty spanking with coffee (from what Mr. Jeremy tells me). I suppose I should ship some to you guys before your temps skyrocket starting in March! Okay… one order for macarons… :) Hugs to you, Mel, and the boys (and Leroy!)

  27. Melinda Kiely says:

    Jen Jen, you sure this is what you want? A foodie blog whore who will just leave comments in hope for food shipments!?! You may start a trend if people get a whiff of that action.

    Kevin said to me today, “Hey mom, do you know how you say happy new year in Spanish? Kung Hei Fat Choi!” I said, “What did you say?” He repeated the whole thing. I said, “You mean, do you know how you say happy new year in Chinese, silly!” He replied, “Oh yeah, Chinese, that’s right.” I am not sure who he is offending more…Have a great year Jen and Jeremy, and you will be getting something funny in the mail from us someday soon…

  28. jenyu says:

    Melinda – that trend ends with you :) Only my very good friends get care packages like this! I still want to see one of Aaron’s stand up routines. Hope the boys are keeping things lively. We miss you guys terribly. Come visit us. I will cook for you! xxoo

  29. Cynthia says:

    Thank you! I am also a ‘high altitude’ baker here in the beautiful Rockies so I’m glad you published your own ‘research’. I will incorporate it as I do my first batch of Chocolate Macarons today. I successfully made Lemon ones last week- after failing at a couple of batches. Good thing the ‘research’ is so tasty!

    I found that even though I have professional grade baking sheets that they develop a much better ‘foot’ if I double up the sheets. Just passing that tip along. Oh- and my oven will do both Conventional AND Convection baking and I’ve tried them with BOTH. Conventional baking worked A LOT better than convection. Good news for those with standard ovens.

  30. kellypea says:

    Better late than never on reading this. I tell you, some day, I’ll actually read your posts as you’ve written them instead of eons later. But perfect for research today. I swear there isn’t a blog alive whose info on these crunchy delights I haven’t read. Searching…searching…Shhhh….

  31. mj says:

    A chef friend just directed this once-hopeless macaron baker at 8000 feet to this link. I am determined to attempt macarons at my altitude again after failing miserably 3 years ago and feeling like I’d finally met my baking defeat at altitude. Thanks so much for your determination — and inspiration! Looking forward to starting!! :)

  32. Anne @ says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog while searching for a good Cocoa Macaron recipe….and by Goerge……I think you’ve got it! Love the Blog and the Photography!

    Rock on!! :)

  33. Macaroons… Take II! at says:

    […] made Chocolate Macaroons with Dulce de Leche filling.  I did not diligently sift the almond flour mixture as much as I did […]

  34. mh says:

    Thanks so much for the recipe! After trying other recipes for 3 batches with no success, I had great success with your recipe for the 4th and 5th tries. I’ve been in Salt Lake for a year now and am just getting used to the idea of high altitude baking. It didn’t come out as pretty as your photos (need to keep practicing), but it was definitely yummy – more so on the second day after.

  35. Vanessa says:

    Thank u for sharing this lovely recipe
    I am living at a 1000ft high altitude place.
    Is there anything should change for that?
    Thank you again!!

  36. jenyu says:

    Vanessa – at 1000 feet asl, you’re fine to just leave it as is.

  37. Vanessa says:

    Thank you for sharing this easy recipe
    I am living where is about 9000-10000 ft high altitude, is there anything will change?
    Thank you

  38. jenyu says:

    Vanessa – I don’t alter much at 8500 ft, so I am hoping you won’t need to. The only way to tell is to try it though. Best of luck.

  39. A Little Bite of Everything | More Macarons says:

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  40. Athena says:

    Hey Jennifer,
    I just made these, and when I made the batter, it turned out way thicker than yours did. I am at sea level. Though I have no qualms about the flavor or texture, mine turned out looking a little bit lumpy and cracked! I’m not sure what i did wrong!

  41. jenyu says:

    Athena – if the batter is thick, then you need to stir it about more (well, not stir, but fold) to deflate the egg whites a tad.

  42. Chocolate Macarons » Annie's Eats says:

    […] Use Real Butter, who adapted it from […]

  43. Chocolate Macarons « Food Is My Life says:

    […] Use Real Butter – she uses the same recipe as Helene, I like it because it shows the consistency of the final batter (the photo where she’s piping out the macarons) […]

  44. Chocolate Macarons » Foodie Baker | Foodie Baker says:

    […] Use Real Butter – she uses the same recipe as Helene, I like it because it shows the consistency of the final batter (the photo where she’s piping out the macarons) […]

  45. DeeDee Bryans says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have finally had success making Macarons! I knew I needed a recipe adjusted for high altitude! Other recipes had me beating my egg whites forever and I knew that couldn’t be right! I am praying this wasn’t just a fluke. I will be trying your other recipes too!!!! I am soooo HAPPY!!!!! Thanks sp much for your postings! Btw do you ever sift your almond flour and powdered sugar? Have a most wonderful day!!!! DeeDee

  46. jenyu says:

    DeeDee – I don’t sift, but if my macs started having problems, I would probably start to sift to eliminate any source of error.

  47. DeeDee Bryans says:

    Thanks!! Just wondering…because most recipes I’ve seen tell you to sift. Regardless, I’m thrilled that I had a successful batch!!!! Can’t wait to make another batch this weekend….I’ll keep my fingers crossed! :)

  48. Chocolate Macarons says:

    […] Use Real Butter – she uses the same recipe as Helene, I like it because it shows the consistency of the final batter (the photo where she’s piping out the macarons) […]

  49. Karna says:

    I’ve recently moved to denver and was nervous to try macarons for the first time but the recipe worked! Thank you, I’m so excited to have a recipe that works.

  50. Rob P. says:

    I’ll be making these with my niece tomorrow – probably with regular ganache rather than espresso. Nice to see Marcel’s name in there. I turn to his book quite a bit for the flourless chocolate cake.

  51. Chocolate Macarons - Kirbie's Cravings - Receitas says:

    […] found on Every Day Annie who got the recipe from Use Real Butter, who adapted it from […]

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