Saturday, July 18, 2009
Macarons with Vanilla Bean Buttercream
I finally made macarons! I've been gearing up for this, gathering courage, for a long time. A very, very long time. A few years, actually. And now that I've done it? I can't imagine what kept me for so long, because this was a breeze! I had read so many descriptions of how to make them, and long cautious tales about how disastrous they could turn out, I was prepared to have to make many, many batches before finally succeeding.
Well, surprisingly, my first one turned out great. Really great! And it wasn't hard at all. I had read that the egg whites should ideally be aged, but those of you who read me frequently know that planning ahead - that far ahead - isn't really my strong suit. I let mine sit at room temperature for a few hours, and that was fine. The eggs weren't super fresh - they had been in my fridge for at least a week, or more - so maybe they were already aged. I don't know. It worked.
I'm experimenting with keeping these in the fridge and freezer for a few days, to see if they're as good as when freshly baked - we'll see. I do want to make some variation of these for Titus' baptism, but they will need to be made in advance. And I really have to come up with some interesting flavor - I think I'd prefer something blue-ish... perhaps a white chocolate-blueberry ganache as the filling? This filling was just a very basic fast buttercream - very tasty though!
Many people write about macarons - the theory, what they should look like, common mistakes etc - I won't. Instead, check out David Lebovitz's great collection of links.
About 15 filled cookies
3 egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp caster sugar (or in my case, homemade vanilla sugar)
200 g powdered sugar
110 g almonds, blanched
Combine powdered sugar and almonds in your food processor, and grind until very fine. Sieve. Re-grind any lumps or big pieces of almonds. Mix carefully (they tend to separate a little bit when sieving, since the sugar falls through first.)
Beat egg whites and sugar until you have a thick, glossy meringue. Don't overbeat. Stir in the almond-sugar powder, and fold together. Don't overmix this - most seem to say that you should use less than 50 strokes. (You can try it by dolloping a little batter on a baking sheet - if the peak falls down, it's ready. If it doesn't, try a few more strokes.)
Pipe small rounds on a baking sheet with baking paper. If you'd like, sprinkle some extra ground almonds on half of them. Leave at room temperature for 30-60 minutes, to form a skin.
Bake at 150°C for 15-20 minutes. (I have a convection oven, and 15 minutes was perfect for me.) Let them cool completely before filling. Unused shells can be frozen, or kept in an air-tight container for a day or so.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream:
100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
90 g powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 egg yolk
Split the vanilla bean open, and scrape out the seeds. Mix all ingredients to a smooth cream. Pipe or spread on half of the cookies, then top with another cookie. Keep in the freezer, or serve straight away - they should keep a few days in the fridge as well.
Recipe in Swedish:
Macarons med vaniljsmörkräm