Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Pierre Herme's Chocolate Macaroons

Servings: Makes 24 sandwich cookies
Pierre Herme, a fourth-generation French pastry chef, was only 24 when he took over the pastry kitchens of Fauchon in Paris. From there, he went to Ladurée to direct the opening of its new restaurant on the Champs-Elysees. He was named France's pastry chef of the year in 1997. These macaroons are at their best when eaten within a day.

Chocolate Filling:
3/4 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar
2 cups whole blanched almonds
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 large egg whites

To Prepare the Filling:
Bring the milk and butter to a simmer in a heavy medium-sized saucepan. Remove from heat, then add the chocolate.

Whisk the mixture until the chocolate melts and is smooth, then transfer it to a small bowl and set aside to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate until thick and cold, at least 1 day.

May be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

To Prepare the Macaroons:
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Blend the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor until the nuts are ground to powder, scraping the sides of the bowl often. It should take about 8 minutes. Add the cocoa and blend for about 1 minute longer.

Using a whisk or electric beater, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until they are stiff but not dry. Fold in the nut mixture in 4 additions, until it forms a thick batter.

Spoon half of the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip.

Pipe the batter onto each paper-lined baking sheet in 12 walnut-sized mounds, spacing the mounds apart slightly, as they will spread a little as they bake.

Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, for about 11 minutes, or until they are firm to the touch in the center and dry and cracked on top.

Slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto a work surface to cool.

Repeat with the remaining batter, cooling the cookies completely and lining the baking sheets with new paper each time.

To Assemble:
Arrange a macaroon flat (bottom) side up on a work surface.

Drop about 1 tablespoon of filling onto each cookie, then top with a second cookie flat (bottom) side down (facing and pressing against the filling).

Repeat with remaining macaroons and filling. Arrange on a platter, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve cold.

Makes 24 sandwich cookies

PER COOKIE: 225 calories, 4 g protein, 28 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat (3 g saturated), 8 mg cholesterol, 21 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

Source: sfgate.com
Date: September 15, 2006