Blueberry Almond Macroons
MAKES ABOUT 50 MACARONS (100 HALVES)
Powdered blueberries from Trader Joe’s or buy a package of freeze-dried blueberries, dump the entire package into a food processor and run it until the berries are pulverized into powder. You won’t be able to get them all crushed but since you’ll be adding them to the dry ingredients through the sifter the large pieces will be sifted out.
Add 3 tablespoons of the blueberry powder to the dry ingredients.
1 cup (100 g) almond flour 1 1/2 cups (175 g) powdered sugar 3 large (1/3 cup, 100 g) egg whites 2 T (30 g) granulated sugar
Prepare 2 sheet pans by lining with either Silpats or parchment paper.
Prepare a pastry bag with a plain tip (I like Ateco #12, but most small-sized plain tips will work.)
First, sift the dry ingredients — in this case, the powdered sugar and the almond flour.
Sift into a large bowl. Refining the dry stuff this way will ensure that the macarons don’t end up with coarse looking shells. If you have a teaspoon or so of large pieces left in the sifter, just discard.
In a separate bowl, whisk the whites. You can also do it with a hand mixer or a standing mixer if you prefer. I like a hand whisk, because there’s less chance of overbeating.
Once they start to froth up and get meringue- like, sprinkle in the sugar. This little bit of granulated sugar helps stabilize the whites, so there is less risk of overwhipping.
Continue to whisk. Here, the whites are still quite loose and soft, barely holding any peak. The mix starts to take on a smooth, glossy appearance, thanks to the addition of sugar. A little more whisking results in firm peaks. You MUST whisk until the peaks are firm, or the finished macarons will suffer, with a too- liquid batter. Once the whites are whipped, incorporate the dry, slowly, so the egg whites don’t deflate. Sprinkle half the dry stuff over the egg whites.
Start folding the dry in carefully. The whites will start to look broken and curdled and that’s ok. It’s not necessary to get every last speck folded in at this point. Once it’s mostly mixed in, dump the egg whites back into the bowl with the rest of the dry stuff. Now fold everything together.
The dry ingredients tend to collect at the bottom of the bowl. Fold by scraping from the bottom, and turning the mixture over on itself. This process does deflate the eggs somewhat, and that’s ok. You WANT to deflate them a little.
Pipe nickel-sized dots. They will continue to spread on the sheet pan for up to five minutes, so it’s best to space them about half an inch apart. As much as I try to keep them the same size, I tend to end up with slight variations, and that’s ok.
A skin needs to form, and it can take 30-90 minutes, depending on the weather. If you touch them lightly and some batter sticks to your finger, they are not ready to bake. If you feel the top has dried, and nothing sticks to your finger, they’re ready.
Bake at 280 degrees F for about 17 minutes.
Vanilla Butter Cream Filling
MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 CUPS
1/3 cup (75 g) egg whites
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup (40 g) powdered sugar
2 sticks (225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Have the egg whites ready to whip in the bowl of a stand mixer. You can also do this with a hand mixer.
The granulated sugar and water go in a small pot over medium-high heat, along with a candy thermometer. Make sure the thermometer bulb is submerged. We’re aiming for 250 degrees F (or 121 C). Since there is so little sugar, it will come to temperature FAST. Keep an eye on it.
While the sugar is cooking, start whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed. Here’s a dirty trick that we sometimes used at the restaurant. Since there is only a small amount of egg whites, the whisk may have a hard time reaching the bottom, so we’d prop up the bowl a little. See the arrow? The bowl is not holstered. If you try this, the machine may not like it, so proceed with caution. I snapped off the back clip once.
Once the whites get thick and creamy (in a couple of minutes), I start adding the powdered sugar.
Pour in the powdered sugar in 2 additions while whites are whipping.
A couple of minutes later, the whites and sugar mix should be thick, and begin to get peaks. By now, the boiling sugar should be either ready or close-to-ready in temperature.
Once sugar reaches 250 degrees F, pour it down the side of the bowl SLOWLY, in a steady stream, all while whipping the whites on high speed. If you pour it too fast, the whites may deflate.
Once the hot sugar is in, continue to whip for a couple more minutes on high speed. It should become thick and look like marshmallow fluff.
Continue whipping on high and seed in the butter, a few pieces at a time.
Once all the butter is in, the mix will take on a slightly yellow hue. Keep whipping.
At first, the buttercream will look like it broke, like a wet and curdled mess. That’s ok, this is correct.
Continue to whip for about 5 more minutes, and it will all come together and whip up properly.
Right at the end, scrape in the vanilla bean seeds, and whip for another minute to incorporate.