It has been so long so I made macarons! I was looking for inspiration and my son’s Brazilian girlfriend suggested this combination. But we don’t keep instant coffee powder in the house, so a science experiment ensued to test whether I could put real espresso into the shells somehow. Turns out, you can!
For a full step-by-step tutorial on making macarons, check out this post.
Makes 30 filled macarons
Shells: 30 min preparation, 20 min resting, 40 min baking
Filling: 10 min preparation, 5 min cooking, 1 hour cooling
Assembly: 10 minutes
Resting: 24 hours for best results
140g ground almonds
120g powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
20g cocoa powder
100g egg white (from approx. 3 eggs), room temperature, divided 50/50
100g granulated (white) sugar
40g espresso coffee (the actual drink, not powder)
120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
12g (1 1/2 tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
small pinch salt
115g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) granulated (white) sugar
15g (3 Tbsp) powdered açaí berries
Prepare 2 parchment lined baking sheets. They need to be big enough to hold 30 x 4cm / 1 1/2” diameter shells each.
Mix the ground almonds and powdered sugar and cocoa powder together in a bowl, then grind in a food processor until you have an extra fine texture. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor.
Sift into a large bowl (I use a mesh strainer and push the mixture through with a spatula), putting any bigger pieces of almond back into the food processor to re-grind.
Add 50g egg whites and mix thoroughly into the almond mixture. Set aside.
In another bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment, scrupulously clean and free of any oil or egg yolk, beat the other 50g egg whites to stiff peaks.
Meanwhile, put the granulated sugar and the coffee into a small heavy-based saucepan and heat on medium-low to 118°C / 244°F, without stirring.
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. You’ll get a bit of it hardening on the side of the bowl, but that’s okay – just leave it there.
Whisk at high speed until the mixture is cool. Because of the oil in the coffee, it will look a bit soupy at first and it won’t beat up quite as firm as usual, but let it go for three to five minutes and you’ll get there.
Scrape the meringue onto the almond mixture and incorporate with a rubber or silicone spatula until you have a homogeneous batter that runs from the spatula in a thick ribbon. Be careful not to overmix – the oil from the coffee means it requires far less mixing than usual.
Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 7 – 9mm / #10 – #12 plain round tip (this is best done in two batches, so you don’t overfill the bag). Pipe 60 equally sized rounds, about 4cm / 1 1/2”, 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. If you have any tips sticking up, press them gently down with a damp fingertip. Leave the tray to rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes until a slight skin forms. It should be dull, and if you touch it, it should be only just tacky.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2.
Bake the macarons in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, one sheet at a time, turning the sheet half-way.
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 from the parchment.
If not filling straight away, store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
Whisk flour into milk and place over medium heat in a small saucepan. Heat until thickened, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes once warm. It should have the consistency of a thick béchamel. Whisk in salt and pour mixture into a small bowl, then cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface to avoid a skin forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature – if it’s not cool, you risk having the frosting curdle.
In a mixing bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add açaí berry powder and beat in well.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the milk mixture one tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated and you have a light and fluffy frosting.
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 to mature for 24 hours before eating.