Hazelnut-Mocha Macarons

Last night’s third annual Samuels Family Holiday party was a raging success.

For the first couple of hours I was starting to think that this year’s party might fall short of last year’s  rip roaring good time.

But that was when I realized I was probably just a lot more sober than everything else. Literally five minutes after I thought there was going to be nothing fun for me to video, this happened…

Leave it my family and our friends to provide me with some great musical entertainment.

But more importantly, the food was great.

So great that the stew leftovers I was really hoping to eat for lunch today didn’t happen. Boo.

But these macarons made up for it.

No, not the coconut type of macaroons. The French kind. The kind with delicious filling sandwiched between two phenomenal cookies.

I may have made these two big for everyone to have one but that just meant we all got to share. Sharing is caring.

You will need…

For the Hazelnut Cookies:
2 cups confectioners' sugar

4 ounces peeled and toasted hazelnuts, about ¾ cup (or you can just buy the already peeled and chopped ones in the baking section and toast them with a little olive oil on the stove for a couple of minutes)
3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder (or just regular cocoa powder)

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon fine salt

For the Chocolate-Mocha Filling:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whatever you do, do not skip this step. I learned that the hard way.

Grind 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar, the hazelnuts, and cocoa in a food processor until powdery, about 3 minutes. 

Sift mixture through a medium mesh strainer onto a piece of parchment paper, then discard any large pieces of nuts that didn't come through the strainer.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until they hold firm but not dry peaks, about 2 minutes.

Gradually add the remaining 1 cup confectioners' sugar, a tablespoon at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed; this can take up to 3 minutes. Beat for an extra 30 seconds until the peaks are firm and shiny but still not dry.

Fold the nut mixture gently into the egg whites with a large rubber spatula.

Transfer the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain piping tip (or if you are like me and are not a pro baker, you can use a large Ziploc bag with the tip snipped off.

Pipe 32 1-inch by about 1/3-inch thick rounds, evenly spaced, on each of the prepared pans. Set aside to air dry for 30 minutes before baking.

Meanwhile make the filling: Put chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream, with espresso powder mixed in, to a boil. And make sure to read the directions and not put some of the chocolate in the saucepan as well.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and shake the bowl gently so cream settles around the chocolate. 

Set the mixture aside until the chocolate is soft, about 5 minutes.Whisk gently until smooth, taking care not to incorporate too many air bubbles.

Cool at room temperature until set up.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Bake the macarons until set and puffed, about 18 to 20 minutes. Take care not to overcook the macaroons or they'll crack. 

Cool cookies for 5 minutes then gently peel from paper. Let cool completely.

Spread 1 teaspoon of mocha filling on a cookie and sandwich 2 cookies together.

Just a little gem to leave you with...

Love and Beer Floats