Sarah Bernhardt Cookies are an irresistible combination of a light and crunchy almond macaron cookie and rich creamy chocolate ~ they’re gluten free, too!
This is one of those ‘best things I’ ever ate’ stories, which are always more interesting for the teller than the listener, so I’ll be brief… I’ve had a weakness for Sarah Bernhardt cookies all my life. I first tasted them in a Swiss bakery and they have ever since been my favorite sweet thing on the planet. It’s the trio of textures that makes this cookie so special— the base is a crunchy/chewy meringue, the filling is a silky almond flavored chocolate ganache, and the hard shell is pure dark chocolate. They originated in a turn-of-the-last-century Dutch bakery, where, as the story goes, the legendary actress loved the cookies so much that the baker named them in her honor. It never occurred to me to try to recreate them until recently, when I Googled them and saw that there are several versions floating around out there.
These are so rich they are sometimes classified as a chocolate candy or a cake, rather than a cookie. All that’s no matter to me, I just love them. The only downside to these confections, besides their being addictive, is that they do involve a few steps to make. An electric mixer (even better a stand mixer) will come in handy to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks for the base, but other than that, you won’t need anything special to make them.
Like I said, there are a few versions of this recipe out there. The one I’ve created is close to the original that I tasted many years ago, but not quite an exact match I got the recipe for my meringue base from the gorgeous blog, Manger. It is good, but didn’t turn out as chewy or as almondy as I remember it. If you like a light, crisp meringue, these are perfect, but I crave that chewy center, so I will tweak the recipe next time.
There is disagreement as to whether you should spoon the filling on the flat or rounded side of the cookie base. I used the flat side.
Once the ganache is placed, the dipping is easy…the cookies are supposed to look a little lopsided, so there’s no pressure to be perfect. Just get lots of chocolate on. And let them set up before you devour them, they are at their best just out of the fridge, if you ask me.
The shiny chocolate will dull down as they set up. Store them in the refrigerator, but they also can be frozen.
Irresistible, I tell you!
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 2 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar (sifted)
- 2 cups ground almonds
- 2 cups dark or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 pound dark chocolate, either baking squares or chips
- 2 tsp vegetable or coconut oil
- Set oven to 350F
- Put the egg whites and the extract in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer. You can also use a hand mixer. Beat the whites until they are foamy, and then slowly start adding the sugar, a little at a time, until it is all incorporated. Continue beating the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
- Carefully fold in the almonds.
- Spoon or pipe the batter onto a parchment lined baking sheets. They can be any size you like, but I made mine about 1 1/2 inches round.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, until set.
- Let the cookies cool for a minute before transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
- Put the cream and the chocolate into a glass measuring cup and microwave for 1 minute. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and glossy. If necessary microwave it again for a very short burst. Don't over do this. Stir in the extract. Set the ganache in the refrigerator until it is cooled and thickened. This might take a couple of hours.
- When the ganache is scoopable, spoon a small mound on the flat side of each cookie, smoothing it into an even mound. Cover the entire surface of the cookie.
- Put all the cookies back in the refrigerator to firm up while you make the chocolate coating.
- To make the coating, I like to work with half the chocolate at a time. Put half the amount of chocolate and vegetable oil in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir to melt all the chocolate. If necessary, microwave again in 15 second bursts until the chocolate is smooth and glossy. Don't over do this or your chocolate will seize up.
- Let the melted chocolate cool for about 5 minutes, and then you can dip your cookies. Dip them head first into the chocolate, and set them upright on a tray. When you've used all the chocolate, melt the other half for the rest of the cookies.
- Store the cookies in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them..
For the outer coating, baking chocolate will melt down to a thinner consistency, the chips will be thicker. I prefer the thicker chocolate coating, so I use good quality bittersweet chips.