I wanted to make a “thank you” gift for a friend and offered to make her a batch of macarons. Yes, they have become a currency of sorts! (I’m also not above using macarons to bribe my son to do his chores…). For this batch, I wanted something classic and chose this simple combination of flavours. The vanilla shells are standard, Italian meringue method, and the filling is a slight adaptation of bravetart’s Faux French Buttercream. I have quite a thing for powdered berries because they impart a wonderful flavour and a pretty colour without the moisture problems of fresh berries. They are worth tracking down at your local wholefoods store or online, or if you have a good dehydrator and grinder, you could make your own. This filling is perfect for those times you don’t have a stash of egg whites on hand. Macarons can be made with un-aged egg whites, at least I know they can using this method, and this shell-filling combination means no wasted yolks. The filling recipe makes far more than you’ll need, but it freezes well.
140g ground almonds
140g confectioner’s (icing/powdered) sugar
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
100g egg white (from approx. 3 eggs), room temperature, divided 50/50
100g granulated (white) sugar
50g granulated (white) sugar
3 egg yolks (approx. 50g)
tiny pinch salt
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
15g powdered freeze dried raspberries
Prepare 2 parchment lined baking sheets.
Mix the ground almonds and confectioner’s sugar together then grind in a food processor until you have an extra fine texture. Add the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean and 50g egg whites and mix thoroughly into the almond mixture. Set aside.
Beat 50g of the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Meanwhile, put the granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat to 118°C.
While whisking constantly on low speed (to avoid splashing hot syrup), slowly add the cooked sugar mixture to the beaten egg whites, pouring it down the inside edge of the bowl. Whisk at high speed until the mixture is cool, about 3 minutes. The mixture should increase in volume and become firm (you should get a beak when you lift the whisk) and shiny.
Scrape the meringue onto the almond mixture and incorporate with a rubber or silicone spatula until you have a homogenous batter that runs from the spatula in a thick ribbon and a trail in the batter melts back into itself within 20 seconds.
Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 7 – 9mm plain tip (this is best done in two batches, so you don’t overfill the bag). Pipe 60 equally sized rounds, about 3cm, in staggered rows onto the prepared sheets. Hold the piping bag upright with the tip just above the sheet and pipe without pulling upwards or swirling in circles, so the batter comes out in a round blob around the tip, and give a little sideways flick at the end to break the stream.
Tap the baking sheet firmly on the bench several times to release air bubbles and obtain a smooth surface. Leave the tray to rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes until a slight skin forms. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150°C.
Bake the macarons for 18 minutes, one sheet at a time, turning the tray half-way. Check them by nudging one very gently – if it moves on its foot, they will need another minute or two.
Remove from oven and remove the parchment from the tray with the shells still on it and place on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, until completely cool, then remove macaron shells carefully to a plate for filling. If they stick, you can spray the underside of the parchment with water, let sit for minute then remove to a rack to dry completely.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the sugar and egg yolks, along with a pinch of salt, until pale and fluffy.
Put a pot of water on the stove, over a medium low heat. When the water begins to steam, place the mixing bowl on the pot, so it’s not touching the water. Stirring constantly, heat the mixture until it reaches 65°C then transfer the bowl back to the mixer and whip on medium speed until the bowl has cooled to room temperature.
When the egg yolk mixture has cooled, with the mixer on medium low speed, begin adding in the butter, one piece at a time. When you’ve added all the butter, scrape the bowl down, add the raspberry powder and mix for one minute longer.
Pipe or spoon a generous blob of filling onto the flat side of half the shells, top with the remaining shells and press gently until the filling reaches the edges.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.