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Chocolate Macaroons

1 cup almonds
3½ oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1¾ oz. bittersweet chocolate
9 Tbsp. crème fraiche or heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 275°.

Toast the almonds on a baking sheet until browned, about 5 minutes.
Remove, but leave the oven on. When cool, grind the almonds to a
fine powder in a food processor. In a small saucepan over very
low heat, melt the 3½ oz. chocolate with the vanilla. In the bowl
of an electric mixer on slow speed, mix the egg white, almonds,
and sugar until well blended. With the machine still running,
add the melted chocolate mixture, and continue beating until
thoroughly blended.

Butter a baking sheet (or line with cooking parchment paper,
then butter the paper). Spoon the batter onto the baking sheet,
allowing 1 heaping tablespoon of batter for each macaroon. Bake
just until the macaroons are set,
15 to 18 minutes. They should be slightly firm but not dry.
Transfer the macaroons to a rack to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a small saucepan over very low
heat, melt the 1¾ oz. chocolate.
Add the crème fraiche or heavy cream and stir until well blended.
Set aside to cool.

When the macaroons and the filling have cooled, spread a heaping
tablespoon of the filling on half the macaroons, and cover each
with a second macaroon making a sort of sandwich. The macaroons
may be served immediately, though they are best if they sit
for a few hours.

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