Espresso Macarons with Vanilla Bean filling

IMG_6599

On Saturday morning, I went to a local tri club’s group bike ride.  I was really intimidated and almost decided not to go.  I showed up and felt like a total joke on my little 10 year old aluminum frame road bike with rusty screws and a squeaky chain (I have to grease it regularly? who knew?)

The first ten miles were quite enjoyable, but that was just the warm up.  Then the real ride began, and I was promptly dropped.  Fortunately two older guys had planned to do a shorter, easier ride, so I stuck with them.  We ended up doing 52 miles, averaging almost 16 miles an hour, and pretty much the whole time I kept thinking “I LOVE riding my bike!” I have a loooong way to go between now and May 4th, but I cannot wait to spend more time out on the roads.  Running is still my first love, but I forgot how fun and satisfying long rides can be. And thank the lord I bought toe covers.  It was nice to finish a ride and still have feeling in my feet!

In the end, this was a pretty good week of training for me:

training

I know, I know, I need to swim more

While we’re on the topic of “things that are intimidating but end up being better than expected,” I would like to talk about French macarons.  I’ve eaten a few, think they’re all right but nothing special, and never really had any desire to make them.  But over Winter Break, Mike mentioned that he wanted to try them and I decided that the challenge would be fun.

I found this recipe, which is different from every other macaron recipe I’ve seen, but decided to give it a shot.  It worked perfectly!  I was kind of shocked, since I know these are finicky little beasts.  I checked on them pretty much every minute they were in the oven (through the door), and was overjoyed to see they had feet (even if the feet stuck out a little bit).

macarons

Then I filled them with vanilla bean frosting, ate way too many, and felt grossly sugar-hungover the next day. Standard.

Espresso Macarons with Vanilla Bean filling

Ingredients

    Cookies:
  • 300 grams ground almonds or almond flour
  • 300 grams confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 110 grams egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso
  • 15 grams water
  • 300 grams granulated sugar
  • 75 grams water
  • 110 grams egg whites, room temperature
  • Filling
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. Note: It's recommended that you plan ahead and let your egg whites sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours.
  2. You will need a food scale; converting to volume measurements may yield inconsistent results
  3. To prepare cookies, preheat oven to 330 degrees F and line several baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
  4. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons instant espresso with 15 grams of water and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, confectioners sugar, 110 grams of egg whites, and the instant espresso mixture. Mix until homogeneous.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, pour in remaining egg whites, but do not starting mixing yet.
  7. In a medium saucepan combine the water and sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  8. Use a candy thermometer to track the temperature, and turn the mixer on to whip the egg whites once the temperature of the sugar and water reaches 110 C.
  9. Once the sugar-water mixture reaches 118 degrees C, remove the saucepan from heat and slowly pour into beating egg whites while the mixer is still running.
  10. Continue whisking till the volume has almost tripled in size and you have a shiny, smooth, white meringue that holds stiff peaks.
  11. Fold the meringue into the almond flour mixture in small amounts, folding gently just until white streaks disappear. Be sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
  12. Fit a pastry bag with a 10mm tip and fill with macaron batter. Pipe small (about 1-inch diameter), even circles of batter on prepared pans, about one inch apart.
  13. Once each pan is filled with circles, let them rest on the counter for 20-30 minutes.
  14. Bake each pan for 13-17 minutes. They will be done when you touch the top of a cookie and it moves slightly without slipping off the bottom.
  15. Let cookies cool on sheet completely, then remove gently with a metal spatula.
  16. Match the cookies into pairs of similar size.
  17. To make the filling, beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the frosting, and add the vanilla extract. Add the milk gradually (adding more if needed) and beat until smooth.
  18. Fill the cookies with frosting.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/01/espresso-macarons-with-vanilla-bean-filling/

(adapted from Squirrel Bakes)

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