If you like the flavors of tiramisu, you’re going to love macarons with chocolate ganache and coffee buttercream! Inspired by my first experience with opéra cake on a trip to Paris, they're the perfect combination of delicate and decadent.
A couple years ago I spent the summer in Paris.
I rented an Airbnb, shopped in open-air markets, cooked food in the tiny galley-style kitchen, and enjoyed as many local foods (read: cheeses) as I could.
My favorite thing to do was walk around the gorgeous City of Lights and take in the stunning architecture and history. Most days I walked 8 to 10 miles! And of course stopping for a beautiful pastry on these walks was a must.
My all-time favorite pastry is a butter croissant. I know this might sound plain, but when it’s done right, a croissant is absolute perfection and anything but basic!
Crisp, flaky layers outside and soft, buttery layers inside. It crackles as you bite it and then melts in your mouth as you eat it. It’s the epitome of French pastries.
Butter croissants were my go-to indulgence, but I also sampled other pastries and confections. Kouign-Amann, macarons, pain au chocolate, canelé, palmier, clafoutis, crêpe, and opéra cake, to name just a few. (Take a peek at a few more of my favorite popular French pastries here.)
If you’re not familiar with opéra cake, it has layers of almond sponge cake, chocolate ganache, and coffee-flavored French buttercream. In the style of true decadence, it’s then topped with a shiny chocolate glaze and sometimes (if you’re truly lucky) finished with gold foil. Oh là là.
If you enjoy tiramisu or the chocolate/coffee flavor combination, you would love opéra cake. My only mistake with opéra cake is that I waited until my last day in Paris to try it!
I couldn’t wait to try my hand at making some form of opéra cake once I got home. Because of my deep love for French macarons, I opted for macarons with the same flavor profile.
The Best Macarons with Chocolate Ganache and Coffee Buttercream
Almond-scented macaron shells flecked with vanilla beans, rich coffee buttercream, and decadent dark chocolate ganache. Bliss.
- Almond flour
- Powdered sugar
- Egg whites
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Vanilla bean paste
- Unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar
- Instant espresso powder
- Vanilla extract
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
- 72% dark chocolate
- Heavy whipping cream
How to Make Macarons
- Pulse the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a food processor a few times, and then sift it through a fine mesh sieve. The mixture should be powdery smooth.
- Add the room temperature egg whites to a large bowl and use a handheld electric mixer to beat them. Once they look frothy, start adding the granulated sugar a little at a time while continuing to beat.
- Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks, and then beat in the flavorings (such as vanilla) and food coloring (if using; here we aren't using food coloring). This is called a French meringue.
- Add ⅓ of the almond flour mixture to the meringue. Use a rubber spatula to fold it in. Fold the remaining almond flour mixture into the meringue ⅓ at a time with a rubber spatula.
- Continue stirring until the batter reaches the right consistency. It should be smooth and shiny and flow in ribbons. To test if macaron batter is ready, let the batter flow off the spatula. If you can make a "figure 8" with the batter without it breaking, your batter is ready to pipe.
For step-by-step photos of the whole process of how to make macarons, check out my recipe for Apple Pie French Macarons on Daily Desserting.
How to Store Macarons
Before Filling the Macaron Shells:
Store macaron shells in an airtight container layered between pieces of parchment paper for up to 3 days before filling them.
After the Macaron Shells Are Filled:
You can store filled macarons in an airtight container layered between parchment paper for up to 1 week. Alternatively, you can freeze filled macarons for up to 3 months.
Equipment for This Recipe
- Mixing Bowls
- Handheld Electric Mixer
- Rubber Spatula
- Piping Bag
- Baking Trays
- Silpat Baking Mats – I find that the silicone mats that are specifically for macarons make it easiest to pipe macarons evenly.
Variations on Macarons with Chocolate Ganache and Coffee Buttercream
If you’re looking for a great classic vanilla macaron base recipe, this is it! You can flavor the macaron shells, but doing so can be tricky. This is why until you’re a little more experienced at making macarons, I recommend playing with the fillings and leaving the macaron shells vanilla.
However, to create macarons with different flavor profiles, you can choose any filling that strikes your fancy.
Here Are a Few More Filling Ideas:
- Buttercream. The sky is the limit in terms of buttercream flavors! You can go with something fruity, like strawberry buttercream, coconut buttercream, or peach buttercream. Whip up something with a little spice, such as pumpkin spice buttercream or chai buttercream. Or go with a decadent flavor, such as salted caramel or peanut butter.
- Chocolate Ganache. You can use milk, dark, or white chocolate ganache. To customize the flavor even more, you can add spices, flavorings, or extracts. For example, cinnamon-spiced dark chocolate ganache, or peppermint-flavored white chocolate ganache.
- Jam. Any flavor of jam would be delicious with vanilla macarons, such as blueberry jam, raspberry jam, plum jam, etc.
Pro Tip: If you want to fill macarons with jam, make sure the jam isn’t too runny. Or if the jam is runny, you can easily thicken it. To do so, heat it over medium-low heat on the stovetop and add a little bit of cornstarch slurry (which is equal parts cornstarch mixed with equal parts cold water), stirring until thickened.
What is a Macaron?
The macarons we’re familiar with today are a sweet cookie-like confection made of a meringue, almond flour, and sugar base. They are sandwiched together with some type of sweet filling, such as buttercream, jam, or ganache. In this recipe we're making vanilla macarons filled with chocolate ganache and coffee buttercream.
Macarons are not to be confused with macaroons, which are rustic-looking chewy coconut cookies.
Where Do Macarons Come From?
Get ready for a surprise; the pretty pastel-colored confections that we know and love today aren’t originally from France! They actually have quite a diverse origin, and have evolved over time into what we know today.
I’ve heard it said that macarons are originally based on a cookie that Arab troops brought from Northern Africa to Sicily sometime around the 600s to 800s. (You can read more about this on Danny Macaroons and Wikipedia.)
After that, macarons made their way from Italy to France. This was said to be thanks to Catherine de Medici, an Italian noblewoman who became queen consort of France when she married King Henry II. Back then, macarons were referred to as “priests’ bellybuttons” because of their shape. (Find out more about this on Culture Trip.)
Once in France, there are records of macarons making appearances at various royal events and festivals. For example, when King Louis XIV resided at Versailles, his chefs served macarons to guests arriving there. (Read more about this on Gastronomos.)
Macarons became popular with the masses in 1792 when two nuns, Marguerite Gaillot and Marie-Elisabeth Morlot, who were known as the “Macaron Sisters” began selling them to make money to support themselves during the French Revolution. (You can read more about this on The Atlantic.)
Finally, in the early 20th century, the pâtisserie Ladurée of Paris gave us the macaron in its present-day form: the gorgeous macaron Parisien!
What Do Macarons Taste Like?
A basic macaron has a sweet flavor with a hint of nuttiness from almonds. The sweetness level shouldn’t be cloying; macaron shells should be just sweet enough because they typically get additional sweetness from their filling.
On top of the base flavor, you can flavor macaron shells with extracts, flavorings, spices, powdered freeze-dried fruit, citrus zest, etc. For example, here we use vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste to flavor our macarons, which is perfect paired with chocolate ganache and coffee buttercream!
Should French Macarons be Chewy?
Macarons should have a crisp exterior with a slightly chewy texture inside. The cookie should be somewhat soft due to the filling, but it shouldn’t be mushy.
More Macaron Recipes to Make
Macarons with Chocolate Ganache and Coffee Buttercream
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
- 100 g 72% dark chocolate chopped
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
For the Vanilla Macarons:
- Sift together the almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt through a fine mesh sieve. Discard any larger clumps.
- Use a handheld electric beater to beat the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Beat in the sugar a little at a time until fully incorporated. Continue beating until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, and almond extract.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites and fold in with a rubber spatula until incorporated. Once the batter is properly mixed, it should flow like lava.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners, and pipe the batter into ¾-inch circles about 1 inch apart.
- Tap the baking sheets firmly against the counter to release any air bubbles.
- Let the piped cookies sit at room temperature until they form a skin and feel dry on top, about 30 to 60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 300.
- Bake the cookie trays one at a time until cookies develop a puffed “foot” on the bottom and are very light golden around the outside, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Cool the cookies completely and then remove with a thin metal spatula.
For the Coffee Buttercream:
- Beat together all ingredients until light and fluffy.
For the Dark Chocolate Ganache:
- Melt the chocolate and cream together in a microwave or double boiler. Cool slightly.
To Assemble the Macarons:
- Match up similar sized and shaped macarons into pairs.
- Pipe a dollop of buttercream on the inside of 1 cookie from each pair. Pipe a ring of dark chocolate ganache on the inside around the edge of the other cookie from each pair. Sandwich the 2 halves together.
- Repeat until all the cookies are sandwiched together.
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 30 filled macaron cookie sandwiches. Each serving is 1 macaron sandwich.
- Before Filling the Macaron Shells: You can store the shells in an airtight container layered between pieces of parchment paper for up to 3 days before filling them.
- After Filling the Macaron Shells: You can store filled macarons in an airtight container layered between parchment paper for up to 1 week. Alternatively, you can freeze filled macarons for up to 3 months.