Macaroon-Filled Brownie Cupcakes Topped with Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Almonds

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Photo by Clare Barboza

An absolute MUST for anyone who is a fan of Almond Joy candy bars! A moist, homemade macaroon is baked in the center of a rich brownie and, for an extra dose of chocolaty goodness, these brownies are topped with a thick layer of ganache. I sprinkle mine with toasted almond slices, but if you’re not feeling like a nut, you can also top them with toasted coconut or even leave them naked.

Makes 15 cupcakes.

For the macaroons:

1 egg white
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) package finely shredded unsweetened coconut

For the brownies:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken or chopped into small pieces
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup sliced almonds, or finely shredded unsweetened coconut, for garnish (optional)

For the chocolate ganache:

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken or chopped into small piece
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions:

1. To make the macaroons, preheat the oven to 325°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together the egg white, condensed milk, and vanilla. Pour in the coconut and continue to mix until all the coconut is coated evenly. Use a tablespoon or a 1-inch cookie dough scoop to form tight mounds of the mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the macaroons are golden brown. The cookies will be fragile when first removed from the oven, so allow them to cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes before moving them to a wire rack. While they finish cooling, make the brownies.

2. To make the brownies, increase the oven temperature to 350°F and line 2 standard muffin tins with 15 paper liners. Place the chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 90 seconds, stopping halfway through to stir the butter and chocolate together. After 90 seconds, continue to stir the butter and chocolate until all the chocolate chunks have melted completely into the butter. (If you microwave any longer, you risk burning the chocolate, so it’s best to be patient and let the chocolate melt slowly while you stir.) Using a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar. It will be thick and grainy, and the sugar should be distributed evenly. Next, stir in the eggs one at a time until the mixture is smooth. Add the salt and vanilla and stir for an additional 20 seconds, until they’re both incorporated. Finally, mix in the flour until just combined, taking care not to overstir.

3. Put a heaping tablespoon of brownie batter into each cup in the prepared tins. Place one macaroon in each tin, pressing it gently into the batter, and then top the macaroon with more batter so the top and the sides are completely covered. The tins should be about three-quarters full. Bake the brownies for 23 to 25 minutes, until they have begun to set. Begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes, as ovens vary. You can test by sticking a toothpick into the side of the brownie—if it comes out clean, they’re done. Be careful not to overbake, though, or your brownies will be dry. Allow the brownies to cool in the cupcake tins for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. If you are topping your cupcakes with toasted almonds or coconut, leave the oven on and spread the nuts out in a single layer on a nongreased baking sheet. Spread the coconut out in a thin layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place them in the oven for about 10 minutes, just until they start to turn a golden brown. Allow them to cool before you use them.

4. To make the ganache, place the chocolate, cream, and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30-second increments, stirring after each zap. When the mixture is nearly melted, continue to stir until all the chocolate is melted and the cream and butter are completely incorporated. Once the ganache has completely melted, dip the tops of the cooled brownies into the chocolate, allow some excess ganache to drip away, and then place the brownies right side up on a wire rack to allow the ganache to set. Garnish with the toasted almond slices or coconut if you like.

Baker’s Tip

When making these brownies, you can make the macaroons 2 or 3 days in advance to save time on your baking day. Once the cookies are cooled, store them in an airtight container with wax or parchment paper between layers of cookies to prevent sticking. The macaroons are also delicious on their own, or you can fancy them up by dipping the bottom of each cooled cookie into some melted semisweet or milk chocolate. There isn’t a single food in the world that doesn’t taste better after being dipped into chocolate.

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imageThis recipe appears in my cookbook Bake it in a Cupcake: 50 Treats With a Surprise Inside. It’s out now on Andrews McMeel Publishing and available at your favorite local bookstore as well as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.org!