Inspired by Au Bon Pain, Adapted from A Homemade Life and Bon Appétit
As Molly, I love using Valrhona Manjari chocolate, which can be easily found at Whole Foods. If you want to simply spoon melted chocolate onto the macaroons, you’ll only need about 2 ounces of chocolate.
Makes 18 Large Macaroons and 36-40 Smaller Macaroons
3 cups lightly- packed sweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup sweetened dried cranberries, roughly chopped
¼ cup sliced almonds
¾ cup egg whites (from about 4-6 large eggs)
⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon almond extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped.
½ cup heavy cream
Place the coconut, sugar, chopped cranberries, almonds, and egg whites in a heavy 2- to 3-quart saucepan and stir well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture will look creamy as it heats, and then it will slowly get a bit drier, with individual flakes of coconut becoming discernable. Stop cooking when it no longer looks creamy, but is still quite sticky and moist, but not dry. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Scrape the mixture into a small baking dish, spread it out, and allow it to cool in the refrigerator for about ½ hour (I placed the mixture in the freezer for about 10 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using your hands or a spring loaded ice cream scoop (for the larger macaroons, I used a scoop with a 2 tablespoon capacity), scoop and firmly pack the coconut mixture into small domes. Whether you are using your hands or an ice cream scoop, a bowl of warm water to swish the scoop or your hands helps a lot. Space each macaroon evenly on the baking sheet.
Bake the macaroons until evenly golden, 27-35 minutes. Cool completely on the pan on a wire rack (or if you’re impatient like me, place the pan of macaroons in the freezer for about 7 minutes). Then remove the macaroons from the baking sheet and set them on the rack. Set the rack over the baking sheet.
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is hot and steaming. Do not allow it to boil. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Spoon the warm ganache (or simply- melted chocolate) generously over the macaroons, shaking them gently, if needed.
Refrigerate the macaroons on the rack until the ganache sets, about 2 hours (if using melted chocolate- it will set rather quickly). Transfer the macaroons to the airtight container, and refrigerate or freeze (do this if you’re only using the ganache… simply freezing the one with melted chocolate will leave your macaroons with an odd-looking sheen).
Cook’s Note: The macaroons will keep up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and one to two months in the freezer.