In the Mexican city of Oaxaca, almonds are ground into a rough paste with cacao, cinnamon, and sugar and hardened into thin fingers of chocolate. The distinctive mixture is used in the city’s famous mole sauces and melted into rich hot chocolate which the Oaxacans drink more regularly than coffee. The warm, spicy smell of toasted cacao, cinnamon and almonds fills the city, as crowded storefront grinders are endlessly turning and the mercado stalls are crowded with vendors selling secret family recipes. The Oaxacan trio of cinnamon, chocolate, and almonds is so lovely, that I was inspired to make macarons with the same flavors. Put on a Lila Downs album, and enjoy these delicious cookies with a cup of Oaxacan hot chocolate or a glass of Mezcal, the region's smoky alcohol made from roasted agave hearts. —robinbeth
Test Kitchen Notes
If Laduree had a location in Mexico, this would be their signature treat. Perfectly crisp and airy, with just the right amount of lift, robinbeth's macaroons are gently spiced with cinnamon and tinted the lightest shade of brown with just a touch of cocoa powder. The rich, sweet ganache, made of melted Mexican chocolate, butter and a dash of cream, echoes the spice of the cookies and the sugar crystals crunch pleasantly between your teeth. Intimidated by French-style macarons? This is the perfect recipe for your first attempt. - A&M —The Editors
40 1.5-inch cookies or 20 sandwiches
egg whites (about 3 eggs, left at room temperature for 24 hours)
almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill, made from ground blanched almonds)
cocoa powder or raw cacao
cream of tartar
Mexican chocolate (can be found in most supermarkets, gourmet shops, or ordered online)
Measure egg whites and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours in a covered bowl. Aging the whites helps them thin and will create a better textured macaron.
Line two cookie pans with parchment paper and trace 1.5 inch circles on the paper, keeping the circles about one inch apart. Preheat your oven to 300° F.
Pulse the almond flour, confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa in a food processor until it is a finely mixed powder. Sift into a large bowl.
Put egg whites in stainless steel bowl and beat on low with a hand mixer until frothy. Add salt and cream of tartar, and slowly mix in the granulated sugar. Once the sugar is all incorporated, increase mixer speed to medium and beat until meringue forms stiff peaks. The meringue should look glossy and remain in place when the bowl is tipped on its side.
Using a silicone spatula, fold the almond and sugar mixture into the egg whites one-third at a time. You do not have to be gentle, instead use brisk strokes to fold the mixture together completely, this will help reduce the air in the meringue and keep the macaroons from being too puffy.
Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag or a ziplock. If using a zip-top bag, cut off a 1/4-inch tip from the corner. Pipe the mixture in a spiral to fill each 1.5-inch circle on the parchment paper. Allow the unbaked cookies to sit out for 30 minutes, until the cookies have a matte texture and are no longer sticky.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool and then peel very gently off the parchment paper.
Make ganache while the cookies cool. Melt chocolate in double boiler. Whisk in heavy cream and butter and stir mixture over gently boiling water until it is smooth and shiny.
When the cookies and filling are cool, spread or pipe the ganache on the flat side of one macaron and create a sandwich with a second one.