WHAT?! It’s an activated charcoal dark chocolate espresso French macaron sandwiched with vanilla bean white chocolate buttercream and a surprise hidden filling of dark chocolate espresso ganache. I know. It’s a lot. But let’s do this.
Confession: I don’t drink my coffee black.
This is my official carb-loading, non-vegan treat for the week leading up to my first ever race. I’ll be running the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon this Labor Day Weekend, and have been adhering to a vegan diet for the last two months. I’ve been sticking to a more sane (for me, at least) “90/10” split for my diet, with 90% of what I eat being intentionally whole-foods vegan and 10% treats, non-whole-foods, or not vegan. I’ve found that this balance between achieving what I’m aiming for–a more conscious, sustainable, healthy, mindful vegan diet–is much more doable and pleasurable if I allow myself VERY occasional treats along the way within reasonable proportions. As an avid foodie, chef and baker, it allows me to still peruse treats at a farmer’s market without being “that person” with one million dietary restriction questions, sample the Michelin-starred menu of a restaurant while traveling, or brush up on perfecting culinary basics, like the French Macaron below.
Black and White Chocolate Mocha Macarons
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup almond flour, finely ground
- 1 tsp finely ground coffee
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp activated charcoal (optional but AMAZING for color)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
WHITE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM
1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1 stick, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
- a pinch of salt
- 2 oz melted and cooled white chocolate
ESPRESSO DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp finely ground coffee
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- the tiniest pinch of salt
- Macarons: In the bowl of a food processor, add the powdered sugar, almond flour, coffee, cocoa, activated charcoal and ½ teaspoon of salt, and pulse until super fine and uniform. Sift through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt to soft peaks, then gradually add the granulated sugar. Continue beating,now at high speed, until shiny and absolutely firm, then beat in vanilla briefly. Classically, you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the peaks moving.
- Gently fold in a third of the almond mixture to lighten the egg whites, then fold in the rest of the almond mixture. Continue to slowly fold around the edges of the bowl and cutting through the mixture with your spatula until it has the consistency of thick lava: it should ooze off in gentle ribbons and you should be able to drizzle the shape of a figure 8 without it breaking.
- Prepare your piping bag with a round tip and spoon in the macaron batter. Alternatively, you can use a ziploc bag andsnip off just a small 3/4″ wide corner cut to fake a piping bag.
- Pipe four dots of batter in the corners of a cookie sheet and stick the parchment paper down.
- Onto the parchment paper, pipe small 1 1/2″ inch discs of batter, spaced 1 1/2″ inches apart. In order to create an even disc, simply squeeze while keeping the bag perfectly still and vertical. This allows the batter to push itself out to the edges of the disc evenly–don’t try to pipe a circle shape.
- Once the cookie sheet is full, gently but firmly tap the sheet against the counter several times to flatten the discs and pop any bubbles in the batter.
- Allow the piped macarons to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes until the surface is dry to the touch. This creates a skin on top, which gives a better rise and the classic shape. During this time, preheat the oven to 300˚F.
- Bake the macarons for 15 minutes, until the cute little feet have risen. You can test by gently nudging a macaron to the side–it should not stick firmly to the parchment and should almost feel like it’s going to slide.
- Cool on a wire rack while preparing the fillings.
Buttercream: Melt the white chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave for about 20 seconds and allow to cool to room temperature. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter until beautifully light and fluffy, and then add the powdered sugar, vanilla paste, and salt. Beat thoroughly and transfer to a piping bag fitted with the tip of your preference–I just used the round tip for this batch.
Ganache: Melt the chocolate and the cream together in the microwave, about 15 seconds. Do not overheat or it will burn. Add the ground coffee, butter and salt, and mix until smooth. Allow to cool until it achieves a thick, spreadable peanut-butter-like consistency.
11. Fill each sandwich bottom with a tiny spoonful of chocolate ganache, and pipe a circle of white chocolate ganache to conceal it. Top with the second macaron. Repeat for the rest of the batch.
12. Ideally, these cookies should be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for 1-2 days before serving. This is the “bloom”, which allows the flavors to meld and the macaron to develop a chewier texture. Good luck saving them for that long! 😉