Thursday, April 28, 2011

Vanilla Bean French Macarons with Fresh Raspberries

I love French Macarons. They're petite, pretty, and so versatile. For this version, both the cookie and the swiss meringue buttercream the cookies are filled with are made with vanilla bean.

One of my favorite baking items right now is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar vanilla bean paste. Using vanilla bean paste is so much easier and economical than whole vanilla beans.

I also love the look (and taste!) of fresh berries in desserts.

For the Macaron Shells: (For directions, see this post)

3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites, at room temp and aged for at least 24 hours
1 pinch cream of tartar
1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste, or 1/2 of the seeds from a vanilla bean

*NOTE: For this recipe, I made the cookies a bit larger than a typical French Macaron with a ganache/buttercream/jam filling

For the Swiss Meringue Butter Cream:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Generous 1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temp)

Combine egg whites and sugar in heat-safe mixing bowl. Fill a saucepan 1/3 way full of water and bring to a simmer. Make sure that the mixing bowl fits inside the pan nicely because if the pan is too big, water will splash and it could get dangerous! Place mixing bowl into pan and whisk sugar and whites together until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is slightly frothy. Transfer mixing bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk on medium-high until mixture is fully cooled and has a thick, meringue-like texture. Add the butter a piece at a time, mixing well after each addition. Switch to a paddle attachment, add vanilla bean, and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Assembling the Macarons:

Spread a very thin layer of butter cream on one shell. Add four small dollops of butter cream onto four edges of cookie. Place a raspberry on each each of the cookie (you can cut them lengthwise if they look to large or awkward inside the cookie). Sandwich the cookie together and pipe small dollops of frosting in spaces between raspberries. Apply edible gold glimmer dust with a dry paintbrush, lightly covering entire top cookie. Place a small dollop of buttercream on the top of a raspberry and stick on top of cookie. Lastly, dip paintbrush in gold dust again and flick on top of cookie and raspberry.

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