100 grams ground blanched almonds or almond meal/flour*
170 grams confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar**
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
100 grams “aged” egg whites, at room temperature***
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
35 grams superfine or castor white sugar****
4 ounces (120 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream (35-40% butterfat content)
1/2 tablespoons (6 grams) butter
1/2 tablespoons liqueur (optional)
Chocolate Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat (or in the microwave). Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to set for a few minutes. Stir gently until smooth. If desired, add the liqueur. Let sit at room temperature until thick and of piping consistency. (This can take a few hours.) You can make the ganache the day before. Just cover and store at room temperature.
Mix together the ground almonds, confectioners sugar, and cocoa powder in your food processor ( for about 30 seconds). Then sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
In a bowl (use a mixer with a whisk attachment) beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy.
Gradually add the sugar, and continue to beat, on medium-high speed, until the meringue just holds stiff peaks.
Then, in three additions, sift the ground almond mixture over the meringue. When folding, cut through the meringue and then fold up and over, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Once the almond mixture is completely folded (called macaronage) into the meringue it is time to pipe the Macarons.
Fill a pastry bag, fitted with about a 1/2 inch (1 cm) plain tip, with half the batter. Pipe about 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) rounds onto the parchment paper.
Gently tap the baking sheet on the counter to break any air bubbles or you can make use with the end of a toothpick. Let the Macarons sit at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes or until the tops of the Macarons are no longer tacky when lightly touched.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325 degree F (160 degree C) with the oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven.
Bake the cookies (two sheets at a time) for about 14 – 16 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom, front to back, halfway through baking. The Macarons are done when they just barely separate from the parchment paper. Remove from oven and let the Macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack.
To assemble the Macarons, take two cookies and sandwich them together with chocolate ganache. While you can serve the Macarons the day they are made, these cookies really need to mature for a day or two in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.