Ultimate chocolate macarons recipe with deep dive information on what cocoa powder works the best, specific tips to consider for making chocolate macarons and more!
Have you mastered basic macarons and are up for a challenge?
If you thought plain macarons are a pain, just wait to try making chocolate version. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but I also want to give you a fair warning and set you up for success.
Here’s the thing…
If you haven’t mastered the basic macaron techniques, like making a stable meringue, understanding a proper macaronage, or figured out your oven’s sweet spot, your macaron journey may turn out harder than it needs to be.
Because an addition of cocoa powder throws a curveball to the whole process. But don’t worry, I’ll share ALL THE TIPS I learned over the years right here!
My Recipe Testing History
Before we dive into the details, let me just share with you my very first chocolate macarons from years ago! After another 5 trials, I finally shared my first version of chocolate macarons recipe in November 2014.
Then some of my readers reported having issues. So in December 2016, I re-worked my recipe yet again. The recipe itself wasn’t changed much, but I added some crucial details and shared precise ingredients amount (think, grams instead of volume measurements!)
And since we always learn new things, I too learned new things about various cocoa powders. Since the last part of 2020, I’ve been experimenting with different cocoa powders. And I’m so excited to share with you what I learned!
Chocolate Macarons Recipe v3.0
These chocolate macarons are beyond indulgent. So rich, yet addicting, you won’t be able to stop at just one! Even the failed ones are supremely good!! You won’t be disappointed!!
Now, again, the base recipe hasn’t changed. I’m just adding some variables for you to consider when making chocolate macarons.
There’s literally no one perfect, foolproof macaron recipe, and you can achieve perfect (to you) macarons only through experimentation. And my goal here is to equip you with all the tips and tricks to consider when making these decadent treats.
What cocoa powder should I use for macarons?
Does type of cocoa powder matter in making chocolate macarons? Yes, no and maybe! 🙂
I’ve tested 6 different cocoa powders with the same recipe and got various results. I’ve had perfect and not-so-perfect macarons with each brand of cocoa powder! Confusing much?!!
I know, you’re here for answers, not for more confusion. But bear with me on this, I’ll explain everything in just a bit.
Cocoa Powder Types:
There’re 2 types of cocoa powders:
- Natural cocoa powder – acidic, has richer chocolate flavor, lighter shade of brown
- Dutch-processed (or Dutched) cocoa powder – neutralized, has less chocolate-y flavor, darker in color
Typically, in baking, you don’t want to use these 2 types of cocoa powders interchangeably, especially in cakes and cupcakes. Because natural and Dutched cocoa powders react differently with leavening agents, such as baking soda and baking powder, which may negatively affect the rise of your baked goods.
However, since macarons don’t rely on any leavening chemicals like baking powder or soda, you can use either Dutched or natural cocoa powders.
Experiment Results of Using Different Cocoa Powder Brands:
Cacao Barry Extra Brut cocoa powder
I loved how these macarons were dark and rich colored. They were slightly on the soft side, meaning the shells were a little fragile on the top. But baking these macarons a little longer solved the problem. After filling and maturing, they were perfect!
Valrhona cocoa powder
Valrhona cocoa powder is pretty dark in color, which produced richer colored macarons with great chocolate flavor. However, some of the macarons had slightly wavy tops (not completely wrinkly), and I suspect it’s due to higher fat amount of the cocoa powder.
Guittard Rich Dutched cocoa powder
These chocolate macs were also perfect: nice shells with crisp outer layer, full inside and great chocolate flavor. They had slightly darker shade of brown than macarons made with Hershey’s natural cocoa powder.
Ghirardelli Natural and Dutched cocoa powders
I was quite surprised how similar the macarons with Ghirardelli natural and Dutched cocoa powders were. Although cocoa powders have different shades, the macarons were practically the same color. But nonetheless, they were perfect macarons with nice smooth tops and full inside.
Hershey’s Natural cocoa powder
Macarons with Hershey’s natural cocoa powder came out perfect every time! Crisp outer skin, full meaty inside, smooth tops and chocolatey flavor! The only downside is they are light brown colors, which is no big deal in my opinion. And if you want richer brown color, add a small amount of brown gel food coloring.
How to make chocolate macarons:
Now that we sorted everything with cocoa powders, let’s make these beautiful macarons.
- As usual, we’ll start with sifting dry ingredients 3 times!
- Make the meringue. Watch my Meringue 101 video for more tips to get the most stable French meringue.
- Now, add dry ingredients into the meringue and mix until the batter falls slowly off the spatula into a ribbon. The edges of the fallen batter should dissolve back into the batter in about 15 seconds. (Read my tip on batter consistency below.)
- Transfer the batter into a piping bag and pipe the shells on 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper, or silicone mat. Rest the shells until nice skin forms on top. It shouldn’t stick to your finger when lightly touched.
- Bake for 18-20 at 300°F oven. Cool macaron shells completely on the baking sheets and then carefully peel them off.
- Pair the shells by size and fill them with a filling of choice. (See my suggested filling ideas below.)
I learned from Phay Shing that chocolate macaron batter tends to be thicker, thus it doesn’t melt back into the batter the same as plain macaron batter.
Chocolate Macarons Filling Ideas:
Chocolate macarons are so versatile and pair perfectly with pretty much any kind of filling. Here’re my favorite ways to fill chocolate macs:
- Simple chocolate ganache
- Chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream
- Easy peanut butter buttercream
- Combination of chocolate Swiss buttercream with salted caramel inside
- Straight up Nutella – the easiest solution!
For macarons shells:
- 100 g finely ground almond flour Note 1
- 75 g powdered sugar Note 2
- 10 g cocoa powder Note 3
- 75 g egg whites at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar Note 4
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 75 g fine granulated sugar Note 5
- To make chocolate macaron shells, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or teflon sheet, or silicone mat. (TIP 1: For even air circulation, flip the baking sheets upside down.)
- To prepare dry ingredients, sift together almond flour, powdered sugar and cocoa powder twice. Note: If you have up to 2 tablespoons of chunky dry ingredients left in the sifter, you don't have to replace it. Simply discard those chunky bits.
- To make meringue, in a clean mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium low speed until foamy. (I set it to speed 2 or 4 on my KitchenAid Artisan 5qt stand mixer.)
- When egg whites are foamy, add cream of tartar and salt and continue to whisk.
- Then slowly add sugar one tablespoon at a time, while mixer is still running. Allow the sugar to dissolve after each addition.
- Continue beating the egg whites on the same medium low speed until hard peaks form. Visual cues: Meringue should ball up inside the whisk, and when you lift the whisk, the meringue should hold a pointy end and have sharp ribs. (See pictures above or watch this meringue video for more information.)
- To make batter, sift almond flour mixture into the meringue. Using a silicone spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until fully incorporated. Then continue to fold the batter until it’s runny enough to draw a figure eight. To test, take a small amount of batter and drop it into the bowl. If the small peaks dissolve into the batter on its own in about 10 seconds, the batter is ready. If not, fold couple more times and test again. Be careful not to over-fold the batter. (TIP: Making french macarons is all about the technique. This is one of the most crucial step. Let me try to describe the folding motion as best as I can: run the spatula clockwise from the bottom, up around the sides and cut the batter in half. If you’re beginner macaron-baker, I suggest to count every fold. It takes roughly about 50 folds to reach the proper consistency. After 50 folds, start testing the batter, and continue testing after every couple folds.)
- To pipe macaron shells, transfer the batter into a pastry bag, fitted with a round tip. (I used this Wilton 2A tip.)Hold the pastry bag at straight 90° angle and pipe about 1.5-inch rounds about an inch apart on prepared baking sheets. (TIP 2: I made a perfect macaron template for you. Simply pipe the batter to fill inner circle.)
- Tap the baking sheets firmly on the counter (or using your hand) a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. You can also use a toothpick to burst some large air bubbles. This step ensures smooth tops.
- Let the macarons sit out on the counter for at least 15-30 minutes, maybe up to couple hours, depending on humidity. When you lightly touch the macarons and the batter does not stick to your finger, then it’s ready to go into the oven.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Note: I don't use convection settings. I set my oven to heat from top and bottom.
- To bake, working one baking sheet at a time, place one tray with macarons on the middle rack. (TIP: To prevent browning, place an empty baking sheet on top rack to shield the heat.) Bake for about 15-18 minutes. It’ll take longer for larger macarons. To test for doneness, touch a macaron lightly and try to move it. If it slides and wobbles, bake a minute or so longer. The cooked macarons should be firm to touch and the base shouldn’t move. (TIP: It’s always better to slightly over-bake macarons than under-bake them!)
- Cool the macarons completely on the baking sheets. Then gently peel them off the parchment paper, or baking mats.
- To assemble macarons, pair the colled macaron shells by size and arrange them on a wire rack. Line them up so that bottom shells are upside down.
- Pipe a dollop of desired filling on bottom shells. Place the top shell over the filling and press lightly so the filling spreads till the edges.
- Store the filled macarons in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 24 hours to mature, which allows the filling to soften and flavor the shells.
- To serve, bring the macarons out about 30 minutes prior to serving.
Tips & Notes:
This recipe was originally published on November 21st, 2014.