Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vanilla Bean Macarons

I finally, finally made great macarons. I had made pretty good ones before, but these were on a whole different level. They were perfectly chewy with a nice crisp shell from sitting on the baking sheet for an hour before going into the oven.
My friend and I had some issues getting the Swiss meringue to stiff peaks after adding the sugar; it took us a good 10 minutes to get there. I also found it interesting that instead of aging the eggwhites, this recipe gives the option of microwaving them for 8 seconds. I was skeptical, but eventually it worked, and we were ridiculously excited when we saw these come out of the oven.
We filled lots of them with vanilla filling. I tried to use an Italian meringue recipe, but we had some more issues with the meringue, and it just didn't taste all that great (my fault for using salted butter accidentally), so we had to add some powdered sugar as a thickener/sweetener. I'll save the filling recipe for when I've worked on it some more...
We also filled lots with nutella. These were definitely the overall favorites - the vanilla bean in the macarons went perfectly with the chocolatey hazelnut spread.
We added sugar pearls to the sides of one (I had seen this done on a blog and thought it was beautiful) before deeming it too time-consuming to do to all of them. It was so cute though! The little pearls looked perfect with the Tiffany blue color we chose. I promise that they did actually look Tiffany blue - I just wasn't able to get it to come through in the pictures.
I'm so happy I found this recipe and was finally able to make a great macaron - my next task is the salted caramel flavor! Any helpful tips?
Enjoy! <3
Vanilla Bean Macarons
(from Baker Chic)

110 grams blanched slivered almonds or ground almond flour
200 grams confectioners sugar
100 grams egg whites (from 3 eggs, separated 24 hours in advance or microwaved for 8 seconds)
1/4 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
50 grams granulated sugar
filling of choice

Pulse the almonds/almond flour and confectioner's sugar several times in your food processor until thoroughly mixed. Place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat using mixer (or whisk) until soft peaks form. Split and scrape the vanilla pod and add the beans and extract to the egg whites. Add the sugar and turn the mixer to high, whisking until you have a glossy meringue with stiff peaks. (It was at this point that we folded in a couple of drops of gel food coloring.)
Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites gently, briskly at first to break up the meringue a bit, until thoroughly mixed. It's important you don't over-mix the batter, but it should be well combined and is supposed to "ribbon" off the the spatula when lifted from the bowl.
Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip or a zip-lock bag with one of the tips cut off and pipe rounds of 1.5 inches along two parchment or silicon-lined baking sheets (leaving space between each.) Let sit one hour at room temperature to develop a shell.
Heat oven to 300 F. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for a couple of minutes and gently remove from the pan.
To fill, match up like sized cookies and pipe with filling of choice.

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