Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons

Amazing Chocolate and Hazelnut French Macarons that are made with ground hazelnuts and filled with a Nutella ganache. With my step by step photo guide, you’ll be able to make these delicious, chewy meringue cookies too!

Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons with Step By Step Photo Guide by Giraffes Can Bake - French Macarons made with ground hazelnuts and filled with a nutella ganache

After my many, many struggles with making macarons, I now really enjoy making them! With all the rules you’re supposed to follow and all the scary stories lots of people will tell you about the horror of macaronage, they can seem very daunting. But once you’ve learned all the tips and tricks and, most importantly, figured out what works for you – you’ll be able to impress everybody with your awesome macarons! In this post I not only have a delicious Chocolate and Hazelnut Macaron recipe for you, but I’m sharing all the tricks I’ve picked up along my journey of learning to make these misunderstood cookies with you – including photos for those of you who are more visual like me! As you might imagine, this is gonna be a long one – but once we’re done, I’m hoping you’ll feel much more confident in macaron making – no matter your baking experience! So hold on to your butts, let’s get started!

Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons with Step By Step Photo Guide by Giraffes Can Bake - French Macarons made with ground hazelnuts and filled with a nutella ganache

 

These Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons are so delicious, definitely my favourite macaron I’ve tried to date! I don’t know about you, but chocolate and hazelnut will always be one of my favourite flavour combinations – it’s a classic for a reason. And, if you’re a lover of the combo too, you’re gonna love the hazelnutty shells filled with the smooth, yummy Nutella ganache! And this brings me onto the first bit of macaron knowledge I’m going to throw on you – you don’t need to use almonds! Classically, macarons are made with ground almonds, which makes for yummy cookies of course – but contrary to popular belief you don’t have to limit yourself to almonds! Any finely ground nuts will work just as well (this was my first ever time using hazelnuts instead of almonds, and there was absolutely no difference in the process), I’m willing to bet you could use other gluten free flours too, such as coconut flour – I haven’t tested this to say for sure, but I don’t see why not! And if those experiments don’t work out? Who cares! You’re still gonna end up with something delicious, I bet! Which brings us nicely to my next piece of macaron truth bombing! 

If your macarons don’t bake up properly, perhaps the feet don’t form, or they’re misshapen, or spread out too much – they’re ruined, right? Wrong! Okay, so they won’t look like a Laurdree display but you can bet your cookie loving self that they’re still gonna be damn delicious – so sandwich those babies with some ganache, curd or filling of your choice and eat them up! We don’t discriminate against cookies on this blog, even the ugly ones are loved and eaten! It doesn’t matter how experienced you are at making macarons, sometimes they’re gonna go wrong – just like any other baking – there’s no point in crying over footless macarons when you could be eating footless macarons! Agreed? Good! Once you accept that it’s okay if they’re not perfect, your macaron making will be much less stressful and much more enjoyable – which is what baking should be all about!

Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons with Step By Step Photo Guide by Giraffes Can Bake - French Macarons made with ground hazelnuts and filled with a nutella ganache

One more thing I want to tell you about macarons before we move on to actually making them is they’re not as delicate as some would have you believe! You don’t have to coddle them like a little baby kitten who can’t open it’s eyes yet and has lost it’s mamma – you want to treat them more like a human toddler, don’t let them wander off or go sky diving but there’s no need to fret if they fall down occasionally (can you tell I don’t have kids?!). You want to be somewhat gentle when folding your macaron batter, but you do want to combine the egg whites and nuts properly so don’t be afraid to deflate those eggs whites a little, after all you’re not actually making meringue – you want a little deflation! 

Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons with Step By Step Photo Guide by Giraffes Can Bake - French Macarons made with ground hazelnuts and filled with a nutella ganache

Okay, let’s get baking! I’ll start with the full recipe, so those of you experienced in macaron making can take that and get baking! Those of you that need a little more help, I’ll do a more in depth guide following the recipe, with some visual aids! The most important thing is that you go into this recipe with an open mind, many of you will be convinced macarons are something you could never make – but I’m going to do my best to make sure that isn’t true! If I can, so can you! And remember, macarons aren’t some mystical cookie that act on their own accord – with a bit of practice, a good recipe and a helping hand anybody can make them. Yes, even you! Especially you! 

Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons
Yields 40
Delicious hazelnut meringue cookies sandwiches with a smooth Nutella ganache
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For the shells
  1. 115g toasted hazelnuts
  2. 220g icing sugar (confectioners/powdered)
  3. 10g cocoa powder
  4. 145g egg whites(approx 5 large egg whites)
  5. 70g caster sugar (superfine granulated sugar)
For the Nutella ganache
  1. 60ml double cream (heavy cream)
  2. 100g Nutella, or any chocolate hazelnut spread
  3. 50g semi sweet chocolate
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/350F. Line cookie sheets with greaseproof/parchment paper.
  2. Add the hazelnuts and icing sugar to a food processor, and process until finely ground. Pass through a fine mesh sieve, if any large bits of hazelnuts remain run them through the food processor again until they are fine enough to go through. Add no more than 1 tbsp of ground hazelnuts that won't go through the sieve.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder into the hazelnuts/icing sugar mix. Set aside.
  4. Add the egg whites and caster sugar to a clean, dry bowl and using your stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a handheld electric beater, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Start on medium speed for 3 minutes, increase to medium high for 3 minutes and then high for 3 minutes. Keep whipping until you have stiff, dry peaks.
  5. Add the hazelnut mixture to the egg whites and fold with a rubber spatula to combine, making sure to scrape along the bottom and sides of the bowl each time to ensure you don't get any dry pockets. It should take about 30-40 folds to fully combine. The batter is ready when it falls from the spatula in ribbons, melting back into the mixture within 20 seconds.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a round tip or just snip the end off. Pipe in circles on your lined baking sheets. Bang the sheets on the counter to release any air bubbles.
  7. Rest for 10 minutes then sprinkle with a little water (put your fingers under a running tap and then lightly flick on the sheet).
  8. Bake for 18 minutes, until the shells stand firm when lightly tapped and peel away from paper easily.
  9. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing shells. If the shells stick after cool, gently run a knife or metal offset spatula underneath.
  10. To make the ganache, place your chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and then heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just starts to form bubbles around the egde. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave to stand for 1 minute. Stir until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
  11. Stir in the Nutella until smooth. Leave to cool.
  12. To assemble the macarons, match up the macarons by size and pipe some ganache onto the flat underside of one of the shells (how much you use is up to you!), then sandwich another shell on top. Repeat until you've done them all.
Notes
  1. You can buy ready toasted hazelnuts or toast them yourself - spread them out evenly on a baking sheet and toast in an oven preheated to 150C/300F for 10-15 minutes. They're ready when you can smell them!
  2. Macarons are better the following day, so if you can wait that long rest them in the fridge overnight.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, allow to come back to room temperature before eating
  4. See below for full, visual guide to making the shells
Adapted from BraveTart
Adapted from BraveTart
A Tipsy Giraffe https://www.atipsygiraffe.com/
Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons with Step By Step Photo Guide by Giraffes Can Bake - French Macarons made with ground hazelnuts and filled with a nutella ganache

Now that you’re armed with the ingredients list and method, let’s go through it step by step! I’m going to be as descriptive as I can, and if you have any questions please do ask in the comments! And feel free to share your tips too!

The first thing you’ll want to do is preheat your oven! A properly heated oven is the first step in any baking success, no two ovens are the same and you’ll probably find the temperature in yours is at least slightly different to what the dial says – if you bake often I would really recommend buying an oven thermometer, they’re inexpensive and so helpful! This is the one I currently use {affiliate link} and it does the job well for very cheap! If you don’t have an oven thermometer, I would recommend erring on the side of caution and using a lower temperature setting and baking for longer. 

The next step is preparing your baking sheets. Even if you have really good nonstick trays, you’ll want to line with parchment paper. If you want to be sure you get your macarons as evenly sized as possible then use a template, you can either print one out or draw circles on the parchment paper and flip over so the ink/pencil is facing down on the tray. I use this template which are a diameter of 1.35″ but a quick google search will find you many templates of varying sizes. Place the template under the parchment paper, then pipe using the guide and remove the template before baking. Prep your baking sheets before you get started making the batter, this way your batter isn’t sitting in the bowl or piping bag longer than it needs to be. If you have enough baking sheets/kitchen space, prep as many sheets as you will need for all the macarons (about 80 shells total) as it’s better for the batter to be sitting ready piped than in the bowl or bag. Don’t worry too much if you can’t do it this way (I can’t), some of your shells in the latter batches might end up spreading a bit, but they’ll still be yummy! 

Prep summary: Preheat your oven and line your baking sheets with parchment paper!

Now, let’s get preparing the batter! Start by putting your toasted hazelnuts and the icing sugar (aka confectioners or powdered sugar) in your food processor. Grinding the nuts with the sugar helps to stop a butter forming and will allow you to process for longer and therefore get your hazelnuts finer. If you don’t have a food processor or nut grinder then you will need to buy ready ground nuts, which is what I do when using almonds with great results! Once you have a fine powder, you want to pass the mixture through a sieve. This makes sure you don’t end up with big lumps of nuts, because your food processor will have no doubt left some behind. Don’t try and force the larger bits through the sieve, just add them back to the processor and blitz a couple more times and try again. Unless you have a really good food processor, you’ll most likely be left some larger bits that won’t fit through no matter how many times you blitz them, it’s okay to add these to the mixture as long as there’s no more than 1 tablespoon otherwise you won’t get the right texture. I had 1 tablespoon left that I added to the mixture, which is more than I’d personally like but it was the best I could do. The photo below is the total amount of larger pieces I added to the mix – the texture of my shells were great so no harm done! Once you’ve done that, sift in the cocoa powder and set the mixture aside. 

Macarons Step by Step Guide Grind Nuts

 

Next up is whipping the egg whites! I see a lot of meringue and macaron recipes that insist you need to add the sugar a little at a time, but I have always dumped it all in in the beginning with perfect results. I don’t see the point in making extra work if you don’t need to! 

When whipping egg whites you want to make sure you have a completely clean and dry bowl and whisk. And absolutely no yolk in the egg whites. They don’t respond well to grease or yolk! Some people add lemon juice or cream of tartar to their egg whites to help stabilise them, but in my experience the sugar does a good enough job of that! The only time I have accidentally overwhipped egg whites is when I haven’t added sugar, so again I don’t see the point of adding extra ingredients or steps if it’s not needed. Also, a lot of macaron recipes will tell you you need to age the egg whites for at least 24 hours before whipping (that means separating the egg whites and leaving them to rest in the fridge for a day) and to that I say pfft! I’ve tried it that way and it made absolutely zero difference, all it did was make it take longer! My eggs are always room temperature, which is a personal preference (I don’t store them in the fridge) – as long as your eggs aren’t freezing cold, fresh out of the fridge will be fine! However, if you’re a nervous egg whipper (totally a thing), you can bring them up to room temperature quickly and easily by sitting them in a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes. 

You can whip them using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (the easiest option) or using a handheld electric mixture. You can, of course, use a regular whisk and your own arm strength – more power to you, I just don’t have that kind of arm strength! Add your egg whites (as you’ll see in the recipe I used weight rather than amount, it’s definitely worth weighing them for the right consistency – you’ll need about 5 large eggs total) and caster sugar (this is just superfine granulated sugar, it’s everywhere in the UK but can be hard to find in the US – you’ll usually find it in the baking aisle called extra/superfine – Regular granulated sugar will work fine too, caster sugar just dissolves quicker which is why I prefer to bake with it) to your clean, dry bowl and whisk to stiff peaks! It’ll take about 10 minutes total, start at medium speed for 3 minutes, then medium high for 3 minutes and then high speed until stiff peaks. Stiff peaks means that when you lift the whisk out of the whites the points made will stand up straight without bending. When they’re ready the egg whites will stay put in the bowl if you tip it upside down, obviously be careful when trying this test just in case they’re not ready! If you’re not experienced with whipping egg whites, after the 4 minute mark check them often to avoid overwhipping – overwhipping is hard to do with the added sugar, but it is still possible – better to be safe than sorry or you’ll have to start again with fresh whites! 

Once your whites are whipped, you can add any flavourings or colourings you may want (not needed for this recipe, but the same steps exist whatever flavour you’re making!). Whip for another 30 seconds to combine them evenly. 

Tip: to get the whites that have clumped in the whisk out, just bang it on the side of the bowl, no need to faff around with a spatula!

Macarons Step by Step Guide - Mixing the batter

It’s not that easy to tell, but the bowl in this photo is upside down!

Now your ground nuts and egg whites are both ready, it’s time to combine them and make your batter! This is where you may want to coddle your macarons, but there’s really no need! I’m not saying you should go to town and beat the living daylights out of them – but a little deflation is what you want!

Pour all of the ground hazelnut/sugar/cocoa mixture into the bowl with the egg whites, then use a rubber spatula to fold the two together. On each fold make sure you scrape along the bottom and sides of the bowls, so you don’t end up with any pockets of dry ingredients. It should take about 30-40 folds to fully combine, and by “a fold” I mean using the spatula to bring the contents of the bottom of the bowl to the top each time. 

The mixture is ready when the batter falls off of the spatula in ribbons, flowing kind of like molten lava. The ribbons should sit on top of the mixture before melting back in in about 20 seconds. If they don’t melt in then you need to fold a few more times. If it goes too runny and the ribbons don’t sit on top at all, you’ve overmixed and unfortunately there’s no going back from there! So, as usual, it’s best to conservative with your checking  – you can always fold more, you can’t take folds away! 

Macarons Step by Step Guide - Mixing the batter

Now that your batter is ready, it’s time to pipe them! You’ll need a large piping bag for this, or even a large ziplock bag will work! You can either use a round tip in your bag or just snip off the end so you have an opening of about 3/4″ – you’ll get a little more control using a tip, but it isn’t necessary if you don’t have one. The easiest way to fill a piping bag is place it in a large glass (a pint glass works well for this) and fold the top of the bag over. That leaves you both hands to spoon the mixture in. If using a tip, twist the bag off at the top of the nozzle so the mixture doesn’t come out while you’re filling. If you’re just snipping off the end, don’t cut it until you’ve filled the bag. 

Now, take your prepared baking sheets and pipe your circles – hold your piping bag straight up with the tip/opening almost touching the parchment paper. Then gently squeeze from the the top of the bag, pulling it straight up, once you’ve got your circle stop applying pressure to the bag and pull the tip away at an angle. You may have a point on top of your circle, but that will flatten. Repeat until you’ve used all your batter/ran out of spaces on your sheets (they won’t spread much so you can pipe them fairly close together). As I said above, it’s best to pipe them all out once if possible – but don’t worry if you can’t. Once they’re piped, pick up the tray and bang it on the counter a few times – this releases any airbubbles which you don’t want. You can now leave them to rest for 10 minutes, resting time is not entirely necessary in my opinion but it’s what I do and I get great results so I’m not going to change it! Before you pop them in the oven, you can sprinkle a little water on the tray to help create a little steam. Just a little sprinkle – run your fingers under a tap and then flick them on the tray! 

Macarons Step by Step Guide - Piping the Batter

Now it’s time to bake! Yay! Make sure you slide out the paper template from under the parchment if you used one, you don’t want any fires! Put them in the middle of the oven, baking in batches is perfectly fine, for about 18 minutes. I find mine are perfect after exactly 18 minutes, but your oven results may vary. So check at 16 minutes and then every 1-2 minutes after that. They’re ready when the tops are dry, they stand firm when you gently tap the tops and they peel away from the parchment without leaving their bottoms behind (naughty!). 

Remove from the oven and cool on tray on a wire rack for 10 minutes. If the macarons stick to the paper after cooling, you can use a butter knife or metal spatula to gently run underneath and remove. Store in an air tight container until ready to fill. 

Macarons Step by Step Guide - When they're ready

Once they’re cool, your shells are ready to be sandwiched with whatever filling you like – in the case of this recipe, easy and delicious Nutella ganache! 

See, it’s not that hard! It just seems a bit scary and intimidating before it’s all broken down! The key is to practice, you might get it right first time or it may take a couple of tries to figure everything out. But you CAN do it! As long as you want to, I really do believe anybody, no matter their skill level, can make yummy macarons! 

Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons with Step By Step Photo Guide by Giraffes Can Bake - French Macarons made with ground hazelnuts and filled with a nutella ganache

 

So, what do you think? Will you try your hand at French Macarons? Or perhaps you’re already a seasoned macaron maker and want to share some of your tips with us! If you have any questions or I haven’t covered something you’re unsure of, just comment and I’ll do my best to help! This is what works for me, so I hope it works for you too! If you guys are interested, I may make a little video tutorial for you too – I’m a very visual person, so I know that would help me out! Let me know if you’d like something like that!  

I’m gonna bring these French Cookies along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, since I wasn’t able to take them last week! Better late than never though, right? πŸ˜‰ Our ever lovely host is Angie, along with the co hosts Josette and Julie! So come party and join in the fun! 

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55 comments

  1. Loretta says:

    Oh my!!!!! You make it sound so simple Michelle, I guess I could give it a go. I didn’t realize that there were ground almonds in it. Now I can eat about 3 with no guilt factor? Perfect instructions, thanks so much, I will bookmark this for sure and try it.

  2. Sandhya says:

    Michelle,
    Your instructions are giving me the confidence to try these beauties. Your macarons look picture perfect…you had me at nutella ganache:)

  3. Suzanne says:

    I saved this whole tutorial along with your recipe. Using hazelnuts is brilliant, your macaron are perfection. I tried once to make them, failed miserably but used a different recipe and for me it just didn’t work. I like the ease of your recipe and your excellent guide. Great work Michelle.

  4. Laura says:

    I love your macarons and chocolate and hazelnut are definitely a winning combo. This tutorial is fab, thank you so much for sharing – instead of getting you to supply me, maybe I’ll try and make my own x

  5. Christine says:

    And unlike a toddler, you might be able to take these skydiving;P You made me crack up with post…I once made macarons with peanuts…that I had washed in attempt to take away salt, baked in attempt to crisp up and dry off, and ground into a powder. They came out perfectly. Ironically, these are the only macarons (three attempts) I’ve ever made that were perfect – although the other time I mistook Farenheit for Celsius…

    • Michelle @ Giraffes Can Bake says:

      πŸ˜€ Thank you Christine! I’ve not tried peanut macarons but I’ve heard good things about you! It’s funny how you’ve had the best results with a non standard method – I especially love how you washed the peanuts haha!

  6. Jenny B @ Honey and Birch says:

    You’ve inspired me to try to make macarons! I’ve afraid to try to make them because I keep hearing how difficult they are but I think I can do it, following your instructions. I featured your post this week at #FoodieFriDIY – thank you so much for participating! You rock, Michelle! πŸ˜‰

  7. Julie is Hostess At Heart says:

    Michelle, you did an amazing job explaining the macaron process step-by-step! I have never made them because I just thought they were out of my league. I love that you used chocolate and hazelnuts! That is my new BFF flavors! I’ll be giving these a try!

  8. Lydia @ Suitcase Foodist says:

    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your step by step guide (with photos). I’ve been working on my macarons with mixed success based on the phases of the moon and what is playing on the radio apparently. I’m sure this will help.

  9. Noel says:

    lovely macaroons! i really appreciate the step by step photos, as macaroons scare me … at least, the making of them scares me.

  10. Christine says:

    OK Michelle. You are officially hired as my coach to walk me through my first attempt to make macarons. I’m very excited and more than a little nervous. Bookmarking this and I’ll be back to give it a go! Thanks so much for lending your sauciness to #SaucySaturdays.

  11. Sarah says:

    Oh wow! Your macarons look spectacular! Thank you so much for sharing those tips and tricks with us πŸ™‚ I now can try again and faillure won’t be as obvious as before I guess πŸ˜‰

  12. Caroline says:

    These are so pretty, and such great tips too! Can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get round to visiting this post (it’s been on my to do list) but glad I have now – pinned for if I am ever brave enough to try them!

  13. Ariel says:

    I’ve been meaning to make macaroons since I started my blog and have managed to avoid it SO many times because I always hear that they’re so difficult to do! I love tricky recipes, but almond meal isn’t too easy to find in any grocery store so I keep putting it off. Yours look fantastic though, and you explained it so well that I think I’m finally ready to give it a try! πŸ™‚ Love the helpful shell sheet too! Thanks so much for sharing this! I think I’m going to bake these this weekend!

  14. Erica @ The Crumby Cupcake says:

    Macarons are one of those things I’m super intimidated to make, but am dying to try my hand at. These looks so good, and they have Nutella in them, which is my heaven. πŸ™‚ Lovely recipe, and thanks for the step by step!

    • Michelle @ Giraffes Can Bake says:

      Hi Siobhan,

      Apologies for my late reply!
      I use a gas oven when I bake, with an oven thermometer to get an accurate temperature reading. The temperatures I give in the recipe are for non-fan ovens, so if you are using a fan oven you will need to reduce the temp slightly

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