Chocolate. French macarons. Ganache. Cream Cheese. Peanut butter buttercream. It's all here friends. Scroll down for the method, chocolate macaron recipe and three fun fillings. Or read on for more classic Edible Times macaron myth-busting.
Knowing and correctly pronouncing macaron
French macarons (pronounced mah-kuh-rohn) are small, delicate meringue pastry shells filled with the luscious curds and creams sweet dreams are made of.
What is the difference between a macaron and a macaroon?
French macarons are not to be confused with the coconut-laced American concoction, macaroons (mak-uh-roon). Do so, and Louis-Ernest Ladurée will rise from his grave to haunt you.
If this is your first foray into creating these slightly temperamental treats at home, you will do best to first check out my beginner's tutorial on how to make French macarons. Then click back this way to indulge in the chocolate variety.
If you haven't read my first two articles on French macarons, here's the best place to start for how to make French macarons.
Macaron Myth Busting, part trois
Routinely, what I see and read online regarding macarons makes me want to go rant in the pantry. And I often do, mostly to myself.
This is the third round of macaron myth-busting here at Edible Times. To start at the beginning, first go here.
Honestly, perfect macarons can be your reality (for less than a lofty price tag) if you hone three basic pastry techniques:
- Macaronage (the mixing)
- Piping (squeezing batter through a small hole in a plastic bag)
That's it folks. No banging of pans, no toothpicks, no fans and no endless waiting for the beautiful batter to crust over like a scab.
Mac Rant #1: Fans are not necessary
You don't need a portable fan to dry out the tops of your macaron shells before baking. Unless you live in the rain forest.
Often the first shells I pipe begin to dry out before I finish the last. I live in a moderately dry climate, so in a more humid one you may find a twenty minute rest on the counter before baking is the ticket.
But please, save your fan for personal cooling.
Mac Rant #2: You don't need a food processor
Unless you are starting with whole almonds because you can't find fine-ground almond flour - you don't need to grind your dry ingredients.
If you want macaron shells as smooth as a baby's bottom, by all means, grind a few moments. But it's not a deal-breaker. Too much grinding can release oil in the almond flour, which can result in splotchy, sunken macaron shells.
Then what? Sift. Once.
I sift my dry ingredients in one fell swoop directly into the bowl of whipped meringue. Even for this chocolate macaron recipe, I simply sift the cocoa powder right into the meringue with the flour and powdered sugar.
As a new macaron baker, I added the dry ingredients in three or four additions. It does allow for slightly easier folding, but can also lead to over-mixing.
As a seasoned professional, I can assure you it truly makes no difference.
Little by little, or all at once, same results either way. If your meringue is too weak and you overdo the folding process, this detail won't matter.
Keep it simple, everybody in the pool at once.
Tips on macaronage (the folding + mixing process)
Mix a bit vigorous at first to create a cohesive batter, then carry on with moderately gentle folding.
I smear the batter back and forth against the side of the bowl every few strokes.
This helps remove any large air bubbles that could set off a macsplosion in the oven (cracked macaron). When your batter ribbons and settles into itself in a reasonable moment, pipe it like it's hot.
Proper macaronage will give you piped batter that looks like the top row above. If your piped batter looks like the two mini mountains on the bottom row, you under-mixed. A great way to check the status of folded batter is to drop a small amount on the pan and see if it settles. If not, keep folding!
Mac Rant #3: Toothpicks
Toothpicks are great for scraping gel food coloring onto the mixer paddle(s), and that's the end of their usefulness here. I hesitate to elaborate so as not to insult you.
Recreational bloggers and even the occasional professional tout toothpicks as a cure all for piping mistakes. Please know these tiny sticks are not so powerful as curing every macaronage mistake.
Air bubbles? Either you banged the pan of piped batter on the counter too hard, over or under-mixed your batter, or fumbled the meringue. To prevent large air bubbles from sneaking into to the bag, be sure to carefully smooth and press any visible air pockets out before piping.
Creating special shapes? Awesome! I dig that. As you see here, I love a sweet little chocolate macaron heart on certain days of the year. But toothpicks are not the answer. Piping skills are.
Any batter worth piping will settle into its proper shape, nice and smooth, on its own. The key to heart, ghost or bear-shaped macarons is in the template and your piping motions. An occasional toothpick assist is certainly helpful, but as a routine practice is not prudent.
If you insist on a toothpick sous chef (your kitchen, your rules), be sure to use it immediately after piping each individual shell. But be aware, the time spent stopping to poke each shell compromises the integrity of the batter left waiting in the bag.
Chocolate French macarons
Yes, please and thank you very much! Cocoa gives macarons a delectable chewiness and wonderful bite. Cocoa powder contains a decent amount of protein, so for any chocolate macaron recipe it should replace a small amount of the almond flour.
You won't want to simply add cocoa powder to your favorite recipe, it will interfere with the necessary meringue-to-dry-ingredient ratio. Honestly, when broken down, all macaron recipes are the same from an ingredient standpoint.
- fine-ground almond flour (or blanched almonds)
- confectioner's sugar
- cocoa powder
- tiny pinch of salt
- fresh egg whites (no need to "age" them, see here for the busted myth)
- granulated sugar
- cream of tartar, optional
The Macaron Method
For any chocolate macaron recipe, the method will be exactly the same. Whether working with a French, Swiss or Italian meringue, the cocoa powder sifts in right along with the dry ingredients. That's all, folks! Incredibly simple, and absolutely exquisite.
Three to-die-for fillings
Sans a filling, a macaron is a perfectly acceptable, if not bland almond delicacy. Don't get me wrong, I pop plain macaron fails straight down the hatch as a matter of practice.
But eighty-percent of the macaron's love is in the creamy, silky, rich fillings. So here are three ideas for punching up the flavor power of any chocolate macaron shell.
Classic Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate really shines when not over-complicated, and ganache is the perfect example. With the right amount of heavy cream, a rich, nuanced chocolate bar becomes a luscious spreadable filling.
Beware of emulsifiers. While chocolate chips will work, a nice solid bar of dark chocolate is much better. Better consistency, and noticeably more impressive in flavor. Most chocolate chips contain emulsifiers like soy lecithin, which will prevent a truly pure, silky ganache.
Shop savvy. No need to break the bank, plenty of grocery stores routinely hold sales on great bars of chocolate. Trader Joe's and most national chains stock their brand of chocolate bars for a great price.
Peanut butter buttercream, two ways
For a light and luscious peanut butter buttercream, whip up the first method below. Whipping creamy peanut butter into a silky French buttercream gives you chocolate macarons that taste straight outta Paris. If time is not on your side, or you prefer a no-fuss filling, the American-style peanut butter frosting is just as dreamy.
Chocolate Macaron + Peanut Butter Option #1
For a peanut butter buttercream that melts in your mouth, start with the recipe here for a classic French buttercream. Then beat ½ cup of unsweetened, creamy peanut butter into half of the finished buttercream. You can also halve the buttercream recipe, but I find the French method is easier with a bit more volume. And the worst that happens is a surplus of buttercream.
Chocolate Macaron + Peanut Butter Option #2
If patience is not your favorite virtue, leave a bit of butter out overnight to soften. Then you'll be able to whip up a creamy, addicting peanut butter filling while your shells bake.
The recipe AKA ratio of butter to peanut butter to sweetener that I enjoy is in the recipe card, but feel free to experiment. We're talking about peanut butter, butter, and sugar here, there is no wrong way to combine them.
Quick + Easy Cream Cheese Buttercream for Red Velvet-style Macarons
This variation on a chocolate macaron is my favorite. If you know the glories of red velvet cake, but have never baked one, you may be surprised (or not) to read that the cake batter includes a small amount of cocoa powder. Hey... just like chocolate macarons!
I've turned this fun coincidence into a red velvet macaron to which you can add red food coloring gel (I typically don't unless I have a plant-based color).
Fill the macarons with a rich, not-too-sweet cream cheese filling. Addicting to eat whether in circle or heart form. Although I find the hearts cute, and not too difficult to pipe. Because if it wasn't obvious enough already, I ❤️ macarons.
Yours in macarons,
Delicate yet chewy, chocolate macarons are a chocoholic's dream treat! Whether filled with ganache, classic buttercream, or peanut butter cream for Reese's style, chocolate macarons are perfectly scrumptious!
Chocolate Macaron Shells
- 180 grams confectioner's sugar
- 95 grams fine-ground almond flour (or blanched, slivered almonds)
- 10 grams cocoa powder
- 3 egg whites (about 90g)
- 55 grams granulated sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
- pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup peanut butter, unsweetened
- 2-3 tablespoons honey or ⅓ cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 4 ounces chopped dark chocolate (or chips)
- 7 ounces heavy cream
Simple Five-Ingredient Cream Cheese Buttercream
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup confectioner's sugar
- 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
For Chocolate Shells
- Line two baking pans with parchment or silicone baking mats.
- If using almonds, grind the nuts with confectioner's sugar in a food processor until finely ground.
- Combine the egg whites and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or with hand mixer).
- Whip on high speed to a stiff meringue, meringue will be shiny and stick to the bottom of the bowl if you flip it upside-down.
- Sift the ground almond mixture with the cocoa powder into the bowl of stiff meringue.
- Fold until the batter flows slowly and ribbons off the spatula. Mix firmly at first, then use classic folding strokes; scraping around the sides of the bowl, the up from underneath the mixture and over through the top.
- Transfer to a piping bag (or large plastic bag) fitted with a small round tip.
- Pipe 1 to 2-inch rounds of batter onto the lined pan, leaving an inch between each. Hold the piping bag vertical, and about a quarter-inch above the pan.
- To help the tops of piped batter settle, very lightly tap the pan on the counter. Or with one hand, tap the underside of the pan a few times gently in a few places.
- Optional: Let the piped macarons rest on the counter for 15-20 minutes.
- Bake at 290/300° F for 14-17 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Rotate the pans once halfway through baking. Macarons are done when the tops don't wiggle away from the bottoms when lightly pushed, but before the bottoms begin to brown.
- Cool a few moments before sliding the parchment paper or mat off the baking pan. Gently remove the shells from the mat or parchment by pushing up from underneath the liner to release the bottoms. If the macarons resist and break, more time in the oven is needed.
- Fill with your filling of choice, and store chilled for 24 hours before serving. If you can wait that long.
Bring heavy cream just to a boil, and pour over chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Let sit a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Cool before filling macarons.
Peanut Butter Buttercream
Beat all ingredients until smooth with a hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Cream Cheese Buttercream
Combine all ingredients but the heavy cream in a medium bowl and beat until smooth. Add heavy cream, and beat a few moments more. Adjust sweetness level to your liking by adding more powdered sugar or honey.
Keywords: chocolate macaron recipe, chocolate peanut butter macarons, macaron myths, macaron tips
More Macarons + Myth Busting
- How to make strawberry French macarons + two easy fillings
- Why all French macaron recipes are really the same (and how to make the delicate pastries)
- The key to chocolate macaron bliss + three macaron myths busted
- How not to make macarons, part deux: myths busted