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Macarons Créoles (Chocolate Macaroons)

"Food Lover's Guide to Paris" describes Ladurée on the Champs-Elysées as a "huge and gorgeous tea salon/restaurant/pastry shop, the meeting place for chic Parisians in love with Ladurée's incomparable macaroons." We bought a small box for the plane trip home. The macaroons come in many flavors, but the caramel and chocolate ones were best. Wells includes a recipe for Macaroons Créoles in her book (not from Ladurée), and the chocolate-filled chocolate macaroons are absolutely delicious.

1 cup blanched whole almonds
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably Callebaut, Valrhona or Lindt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites (2 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Unsalted butter for buttering the baking sheet

1 3/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream (preferably not ultra-pasteurized)

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove, but leave oven on. When cool, grind the almonds to a fine powder in a food processor.

In a small saucepan, in a water bath and over low heat, melt the 3 1/2 ounces of chocolate with the vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer on slow speed, mix the egg whites, almond powder and sugar until well-blended. With the machine still on, add the melted chocolate mixture, and continue beating until thoroughly blended.

Butter a baking sheet (or line it with cooking parchment paper, then butter the paper). Spoon the batter onto the baking sheet, allowing 1 tablespoon of batter for each macaroon. Bake just until the macaroons are set, 15 to 18 minutes. They should be slightly firm but not dry. Transfer the macaroons to a rack to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan in a water bath over low heat. Add the crème fraîche or heavy cream, and stir until well blended. Set aside to cool.

When the macaroons and filling have cooled, spread a generous layer of the filling on half of the macaroons and cover each with a second macaroon, making a sort of sandwich. The macaroons may be served immediately, though they are best if they sit for a few hours.

Makes approximately 12 filled macaroons.

Sunday, January 09, 2000

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