Olympic events I would surely medal in:
-Greco accidental Facebook liking/frantic Roman Facebook unliking.
-Synchronized inappropriate “you too!” reflexes. Enjoy your flight as well, taxi driver.
-Floor exercise: power napping, no-pillow division.
-Accidentally flushing contact lenses down the sink, 100m relay.
-Women’s half-middleweight making the same joke twice in one night and hoping nobody notices.
We all have our strengths, right?
Also, you know how photographers always make medalists bite their medals? “Good job, you are literally the best on the planet, now is the part where we break your tooth.” I think it’s about time we started handing out cookies for Olympian photo ops. My first nomination is these: crunchy-shelled, nutty, chewy, filled with rich dark chocolate, spiked with cool mint. So, so good, especially chilled.
And honestly… Making these wasn’t so bad. Macarons are a notoriously finicky undertaking, so I did my research before attempting them for the first time. I read ALL the tips, and I think the most important one came from Christina at Scientifically Sweet, whom I always refer to when it comes to these things. According to her, your secret weapon is this:
That’s right–just time your egg beating. I can’t say I’ve experimented enough (or at all) to confirm that this is the game changer, but I did as I was told, and it worked. Beat egg whites, lemon juice and salt for 20 seconds, then start gradually adding the sugar.
Ground almonds and sugar get in on this, too. I used a bit of green food coloring in here, though you certainly don’t have to. Somebody has to risk cancer for pretty green confections, after all, and I’ll gladly do it. Just this once.
Pipe and wait. The thing about making sandwich cookies… Twice the effort. I’m ambivalent about this part, but I’m strongly pro-macaron.
Bake and rejoice.
Make ganache. Silky, silky, shiny minty ganache.
My heavens, here we are. So you’re the fastest person alive, huh. Do you want a cookie or something?
Mint Chocolate Macarons
(adapted from Epicurious)
2 cups powdered sugar
6 oz sliced almonds
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Green food coloring (optional)
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Prepare two large baking sheets by lining them with parchment.
In a food processor or blender, pulse the almonds and powdered sugar until ground very fine. Sift the mixture and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl for 20 seconds,(at this point it should look like foamy bubble bath–see Scientifically Sweet for photos) then gradually add the granulated sugar. Add a few drops of food coloring, if using, until you get the color you’d like. Continue beating for a couple of minutes, until soft peaks form (at this point it should look more like mousse or shaving cream). Add the almond mixture to egg whites (they will deflate) and fold just until everything is incorporated well (try to keep it under 40 strokes or so).
Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip and fill with batter. Pipe 1 to 1 1/2-inch rounds, spacing about an inch apart. Let the cookies rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or so, until firm shells form on top. Then, bake at 300 degrees for 15 -17 minutes or so, until slightly golden at edges (watch out for overbaking if you used food coloring, as they won’t look good if they get too yellow).
Cool sheets on wire rack for 15 minutes or so before carefully peeling them off individually and placing them on the wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make ganache. In a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with simmering water, whisk together chocolate and cream until chocolate is melted completely and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat, whisk in butter until melted, and whisk in peppermint extract. Taste and add more extract, if you’d like. Allow ganache to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally.
To assemble cookies, pair up cookie halves that are roughly the same size. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon or so of ganache on one side, and top with the other, twisting gently to spread ganache evenly.
Makes about 15 macarons. Serve at room temperature or (my preference!) chilled in the fridge.