(About 24 cookies)
These elegant macaroons were named after the French actress.
8 ounces (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) almond paste
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup (about 3) egg whites, lightly beaten
36 whole almonds (optional)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped or grated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons sliced almonds or chopped pistachio nuts
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease the baking sheet.
2) To make the macaroons: Using your hands, work together the almond paste, sugar, and salt until well blended. Add the almond extract. Gradually beat in the egg whites to make a soft, dropable dough with the consistency of cooked oatmeal.
3) Place the almond paste mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch or 5/8-inch plain tip and pipe onto the prepared baking sheet into 1 1/4-inch rounds about 1/2-inch high.
4) Bake until the macaroons begin to color, about 13 minutes. Let stand until the parchment can easily be pulled off cookies, about 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
5) To make the ganache: In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a low boil (no more than 118 degrees at which point the cocoa butter will separate from the chocolate), stirring occasionally. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl, pour the cream over top, and let stand for 30 seconds. Stir until melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
6) Pour into a medium bowl and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until of spreading consistency, about 2 hours. (Ganache may be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Let stand at room temperature to soften until of spreading consistency, 30 to 45 minutes).
7) Beat the ganache until light and fluffy. Using a pastry bag fitted with a 5/8-inch plain or star tip, pipe about 2 tablespoons of the ganache on top of each cookie. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
8) To make the glaze: Stir the sugar, water, corn syrup, and butter or margarine over a medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Stop stirring and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until smooth. Let stand until the glaze begins to firm.
9) Place the cookies on a rack set in a baking sheet and spoon the chocolate glaze over the tops, allowing the excess to drip off (the excess can be melted and reused). Arrange several almond slices or pistachios over top. Store in the refrigerator.