Every Halloween when my boys come home with their pillow cases full of candy, I always bargain to get the peanut butter cups. It is my candy weakness, well one of the many. Chocolate and peanut butter is a great combination, but for some reason not the picture of sophistication. Peanut butter is thought to be something that you spread on bread and serve to kids when you are in a hurry. But, why not use it for something beyond PB&J. This struck me recently when my 10 year old was doing a STATE project for school about Ohio. He made “buckeye” treats, a sweet resembling the nut of the state tree of Ohio. It is a ball of peanut butter fudge dipped in chocolate (think truffles for kids). He brought them to school and his classmates begged him for the recipe.
I considered showing you the recipe as he delivered them, but to my taste they were a tad sweet and a real mouthful (he insisted they be life size buckeyes). Don’t get me wrong, I ate my share, but I thought with a little tweaking this could be a dessert both children and their parents would devour. I took the filling from the buckeye treats and sandwiched it between two chocolate-almond macarons from La Maison Du Chocolat. It makes me smile to think of the quintessential American candy blended with the dainty French confection. Fantastique! The light, crisp chocolate cookie is the perfect balance for the rich filling.
Chocolate-Almond Macarons from La Maison du Chocolat :
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon ground almond
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
5 large egg whites
Peanut butter cream filling from Ohio:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate for painting on macarons, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper. Set up a pastry bag with a large round tip.
Sift together the ground almonds, cocoa powder, 2 cups confectioner’s sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites in your stand mixer until they are firm peaks, ten slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Beat until the whites are stiff peaks.
Sprinkle 1/3 of the almond mixture over the whites and gently fold them in with a rubber spatula.
Repeat with another 1/3 of the almond mixture and fold in.
add the final 1/3 of almond mixture and fold in. The mixture will be quite thick, but still a little runny. In other words it won’t be light and fluffy like you might expect with all that egg white.
Fill the pastry bag 1/3 full.
Pipe the batter out onto the parchment in about 40 small round mounds, about the size of a quarter.
Bake for 18 minutes. Remove and cool completely on rack, before peeling the cookies from the parchment. These have the texture of a dacquoise  and if you bake them too long they will be crisp. One batch came out this way and my family loved it, so you determine which you prefer.
While they cool you can mix up your peanut butter filling.
In a mixer with the paddle attachment mix the peanut butter, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt.
Once the macarons are cooled, paint the underside of all of them with the chocolate, using a pastry brush. Allow the chocolate to set. Putting them in the refrigerator for a few minutes will do the trick.
Place the peanut butter mixture in a pastry bag and pipe onto half of the chocolate painted macarons.
Cover the peanut butter with the remaining macarons.
Check out the post I did for Ari at baking and Books while she is on vacation! I made a Strawberry-Rhubarb and Thyme Shortcake!