Valentine’s Day was a Friday this year, and I couldn’t bear the thought of going out to dinner with hordes of other people. I had no inspiration for dinner (we ended up buying steak and appetizers at Trader Joe’s), but I had decided earlier that I absolutely had to make this Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting. I love baking and I love sweets, but decorative desserts usually aren’t my thing. I don’t like having to focus on presentation. But for this dessert, I made an exception.
I’ve tried making almond macaroons once or twice, and they haven’t turned out perfectly. I simply don’t whip egg whites often enough to have them turn out well every time. But this time, everything turned out just fine.
Almond-Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
10.5 ounces almonds or almond meal (or 2 1/2 cups slivered almonds; I weighed together almonds and almond meal as I didn’t have enough of either alone)
1 cup + 3 tbsp sugar
a pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla
6 egg whites (I used some I had frozen and thawed)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract (or other flavoring; I used vanilla, but almond will highlight the macaroon’s flavor)
20 ounces chocolate, chopped (I used 2/3 dark chocolate and 1/3 milk) or chocolate chips (which I would use next time)
1/2 to 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I used some honey roasted almonds I bought at Trader Joe’s a while back)
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 12×4 inch rectangles on each sheet of parchment paper; flip over the sheets of parchment so your ink or pencil doesn’t come into contact with your food. Position your oven racks so that they are in the top and bottom third of your oven, and preheat your oven to 325F.
Using a food processor, grind together almonds, 1 cup sugar, and a pinch salt until finely ground. You can skip this step if using almond meal. Using a stand mixer, whip your egg whites with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and slowly add 3 tablespoons sugar. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat. Fold almond mixture into egg whites, being careful not to deflate too much. Spoon batter evenly among the 4 parchment rectangles. Spread batter evenly to edges, filling each rectangle completely. Bake at 325F for about 20 minutes total, rotating the pans and switching their racks halfway through. Macaroons will be golden when done, and almost firm in the center. Cool macaroons partway. When mostly but not completely cool, carefully peel the parchment away from the bottom of the macaroons, taking care not to break the layer.
Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium saucepan until sugar dissolves. Pour into a container, and return 10 tablespoons of syrup back to the pan and add vanilla. Bring to a boil and add chocolate to the pan. Remove from heat and let mixture set for one minute to let the chocolate soften. Stir the chocolate until smooth. Mine was very thick; perhaps I should have included all of the simple syrup, as I didn’t have much leftover.
Trim the macaroons as necessary to get them all the same length. Place one layer on a plate or tray; I used two spatulas to move my layers. Add about 1/2 cup chocolate and spread frosting evenly over the layer. Top with another layer, and repeat with another layer of frosting. Repeat again for the third layer, then top with the fourth macaroon. Top with remaining chocolate. My thick chocolate had cooled (after all, it’s a cold winter) and become difficult to spread, so I used my clean hands to mold the chocolate and spread it over the top and down the sides. I almost forgot to add the almonds to the sides of the torte, but remembered before I had cleaned the kitchen. The chocolate was cool and the almonds didn’t particularly want to stick to the sides; I had to press the nuts in pretty well to get them to stay. I covered the torte loosely with a foil tent.
This was certainly an impressive-looking dessert. Although I had to mold the chocolate to the dessert, I felt very proud of how it turned out. The torte tasted primarily of chocolate when you ate the top and side chocolate layers. However, you could taste the almonds of the macaroons when you ate the soft inner layers. I liked the contrast between the soft macaroon and the thick, solid chocolate, but overall, I wish the chocolate had been softer. I ate the trimmings from the macaroons, and they were incredibly tasty. This is a special occasion dessert, and I may make it again. I might include cream in the chocolate ganache to make it softer and easier to spread.