Almond Macaroon Base:
1 1/2 cups whole blanched almonds
1 cup sugar
3 egg whites
Dash of salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 teaspoons rice flour (found in the ethnic section of supermarkets)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1 drop of almond extract
Chocolate Mousse Filling:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
6 ounces whipping cream
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, the best you can afford
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cookie base: Combine the almonds and sugar in a food processor. Grind until the almonds are pulverized.
Beat the egg whites with the salt to soft peaks, then slowly beat in the powdered sugar and rice flour. Beat until the mixture is stiff. Fold in the vanilla and almond extracts, and the pulverized nuts. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto the baking sheets.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the surface of the cookies feels firm and the cookies are golden around the edges. Using a wide spatula, immediately remove the cookies to a rack to cool completely.
For the mousse filling: Make a simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmering for 5 minutes. Put the yolks in the top of a double boiler over hot water (keep on a low burner). Beat 1 tablespoon of the hot simple syrup into the yolks to temper them, then slowly drizzle the remaining syrup into the yolks, beating constantly.
Cook for about 1 minute, or until slightly thickened. Do not overcook or the yolks will scramble. Remove the top of the double boiler from the bottom and let the yolk mixture cool to room temperature.
Melt the chocolate in a microwave (50% power) for 120 to 150 seconds. Let cool to room temperature. Whisk together the yolk mixture and chocolate.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form and fold into the chocolate. Cover and refrigerate for about 20 to 30 minutes.
To fill the cookies: Turn each cookie upside down so the flat side is facing up. Place a generous tablespoon of mousse on the flat side. When you have filled all of the cookies, place in a single layer in a dish with edges to help keep them facing up. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.
To prepare chocolate coating: Melt the chocolate with the shortening in the top of a double boiler. Let cool to lukewarm (don't let it cool completely or it will be too thick).
Remove the cookies from the freezer and dip each, mousse-side down, into the chocolate coating. Do this quickly so the mousse doesn't break down.
Place the cookies chocolate-side up back in the dish. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.
These keep well stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Historical background: The cookie was originally created in Sweden for the famous actress. A proper Sarah is a crisp almond macaroon with a chocolate filling, and it's dipped in best-quality melted chocolate. Biting through the layers of cookie, mousse and crisp chocolate coating is the wonder of it all.
Source: Sfgate.com; Wednesday, March 19, 2003 (SF Chronicle) Jacqueline Higuera McMahan.
Prepared by: Lena for the April 2006 meeting