Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vanilla French Macarons

Happy Valentine's Day!

*Photo by my awesome brother-in-law

A lot of times I lean towards creating new recipes and concepts for special days, but today is one of those days where I chose to make an "oldie but goodie."

French Macarons filled with a rich vanilla french buttercream, styled in a lovely, festive shade of pink.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Valentine's Day! Not only did my sweet husband surprise me with some wonderful gifts, but I took a half day off of work, so as not to get stuck in traffic like last year. It took me three miserable hours to go less than 10 miles, people- despite appearances, Los Angeles is not a fun place to be on a day like today.

For the Macaron Shells (makes 32-35 shells):

2 large egg whites, aged at room temperature at least 24 hours
3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup superfine/castor sugar (whirl regular sugar in a food processor for a similar result)
pinch of cream of tartar

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If you're like me and have difficulty with spatial awareness and piping cookies to be the same size, make sure to draw 1 to 1 1/2 inch circles on the back side of the parchment paper prior to piping.

Fit a pastry bag with a medium round tip.

Pulse almond flour and confectioner's sugar together in a food processor for 2-3 minutes, until fine. Sift through a mesh sieve. Re-process remaining large pieces and sift.

Whip egg whites in bowl using hand mixer, or in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. When mixture is foamy, add cream of tartar. Once whites begin to stiffen, slowly add granulated sugar with mixer running. Egg whites are done when stiff peaks have formed.

Add food coloring, almond meal, and confectioner's sugar to egg whites. Using a plastic offset spatula, fold mixture until batter is the texture of slow moving lava and it "ribbons" off of the spatula. Scoop batter into pastry bag and pipe onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.

Hit baking sheets against the counter to remove air bubbles. Allow to sit on countertops for at least 30 minutes to form a "skin." Bake cookies one sheet at a time at 275 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

For the Vanilla French Buttercream:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
2 large eggs
3 sticks butter, unsalted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine water and sugar in small saucepan and place over medium heat. Place eggs in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Mix eggs until creamy. Cook sugar until it reaches soft ball stage- 240 degrees. With mixer still running on medium-low, slowly pour hot sugar syrup into eggs. Once incorporated, turn mixer up and mix until fully cooled. With mixer still running, cut up butter into small pieces and add little by little. Once buttercream has come together, switch to paddle attachment, add vanilla extract, and continue to mix for another 2-3 minutes. Pipe buttercream onto one half of each macaron and gently sandwich together.

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