August 31, 2013

Cardamon Coffee Macarons

“Macarons are the new chocolate” is often heard those days. Delicate French cookies are taking the world by storm: one can find them on the advertisement banners of top-end cosmetics companies, in the lobbies of fancy hotels, and served along your afternoon tea. You can make macarons at home and amaze your loved ones too – it only takes a little bit of practice.

Macarons represent for me everything that French cuisine is about: a few simple ingredients combined with the imagination and skill to create something extraordinary at the end. Macarons will change the occasion you prepare them for into a special experience.

Basic macarons recipe has only 4 ingredients. The list of things that may go wrong while you’re making them is a lot longer… But don’t let that scare you – take notes of everything you do to be able to make adjustments later, if necessary. At some point I hope to get around to writing the list of things I learned about making macarons, but because fall is almost here and coziness of the season is in the air, today I would like to share the recipe that is a little bit more fancy - Cardamom Coffee Macarons.

Note that the ingredients are listed in metric measurements ONLY. Macarons are persnickety, so precise measurements are important for the success of the final cookie and volume-based measurements (such as cups and spoons) do not do well here

Cardamom Coffee Macarons

100 grams blanched, ground almonds
180 grams sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom (the more you add – the stronger flavor you’ll have)
1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
100 grams egg whites, aged at least 1 day
35 grams granulated sugar

1.       Prepare 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
2.       In a medium bowl, sift together almonds, espresso powder, cardamom and powdered sugar. Set aside.
3.       In a large bowl mix the egg whites with cream of tartar using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment until soft peaks begin to form. At this point start adding granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time, continuing to whip until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form. An old trick to know if meringue is ready is to hold the bowl upside down: if it doesn’t slip out, you’re good to go.
4.       Sift a portion of your dry mixture over the meringue and carefully fold it in. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients until everything is incorporated. Be careful not to over mix.  
5.       Load the macaronage (that’s how the mixture for macarons is called) into a big piping bag fitted with a open round tip.  Pipe about 1-inch (circa 2.5cm) circles on the baking sheet, leaving enough space in between each macaron for them to flatten as they sit. Tap the baking sheet against the counter to break any air bubbles that may have formed. Then let macarons rest for 30-60 min until they form a dry skin.
6.       Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 150 C° (300 F°) on a fan setting.
7.       After macarons have set and formed a ‘skin’, bake them for 11-12 minutes, one sheet at a time.
8.       Let cool completely before removing from the parchment paper.
9.       Sandwich together with coffee swiss meringue buttercream.

Macarons are good on the day they are prepared, but they are even better the next day. Put your sandwiched macarons in a container and store in the refrigerator overnight for best results.

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(fills 25-30 macarons)

1 egg while
50 grams granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
65     grams butter

1.       Put egg white and sugar into a double boiler over the pot of simmering water and whisk constantly, until the mixture reaches 65°C (150°F).
2.       Remove from the heat and whisk with the hand mixer until egg is fluffy and the bowl has cooled completely.

3.       Add butter and flavorings and whisk until until it’s smooth and satiny.

Bon Appétit!

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