Vanilla Bean Macarons

Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, macarons are brightly colored almond meringue shells with anything from jam to ganache sandwiched in between. The macaron is notoriously famous for being a bit of a diva. Too humid, you get cracked macarons. Overmix and you get hollow macarons. Having read a good bit of the horror stories of failed macarons on the web, it took me about a year before mustering up the courage to attempt these delicate cookies. Needless to say, I was VERY meticulous the first time I tried the macarons out last summer. After a good 3 hours of holding my breath, nothing was more welcoming than the sight of feet on those macarons. My first batch was dedicated to my Mother's birthday and these quickly became my mom's favorite treat. Only catch is that she prefers to eat the shells without the filling, which does tend to make the macaron really sweet. I managed to have success the first 3 or so times, but these macarons have a way of humbling you right when you're about to get overconfident or careless. For one thing, proportion will make or break your macarons, so don't think of messing around with the recipe's proportions and be sure to measure out everything in grams with a scale.
With careful attention to detail and avoiding environments/ days with high humidity, macarons will be good to you and yield the beautiful dome and feet that you seek. If you do find yourself baking these up on days with high humidity though, you can dry out the sheet of piped macarons for 2 hours or more. The process basically consists of two parts: making the meringue with the aged egg whites and folding in a mixture of almond flour and powdered sugar into the meringue. The coloring and flavoring of the macarons are really up to your imagination, so I'll present to you this basic recipe, which is open to your culinary innovation ;). IMG_3519
Vanilla Bean Macarons

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Ingredients Part A:
110 grams almond flour
200 grams powdered sugar

Part B:
100 grams aged egg whites (egg whites aged for 12-24 hours)
50 grams sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean (optional)

Part A Instructions:
1.) Measure out almond flour and powdered sugar. Add the two ingredients to a blender and blend together to form a homogeneous mixture.
 2.) Sift this mixture of almond flour and powdered sugar into a bowl.

Part B Instructions:
1.) Add egg whites to clean and oil-free stand mixer or large bowl. Begin beating egg whites at medium-high speed until a foam forms.
 2.) Gradually add in sugar to egg whites as you continue beating egg whites at medium-high speed.
3.) Beat egg whites to stiff peaks (you can test by lifting the beater and seeing if the meringue holds its shape).
4.) Add vanilla bean extract and vanilla bean seeds to mixture and mix to incorporate.
5.) Add about 1/4 of the mixture from part A along with any 1-2 drops of food coloring to the meringue and fold in gently, scooping about 10 times (folding motion, scoops along bottom of the bowl, bringing the bottom layer to the top. Folding ensures the meringue doesn't deflate).
6.) Continue folding part A ingredients to the meringue (this should take no more than 50 strokes) until you achieve a "magma-flow" consistency .
7.) Prepare a sheet with parchment paper and transfer mixture to piping bag.
8.) Pipe mixture into evenly-sized circles onto the parchment paper, being careful to space out the macarons.
9.) Tap out the metal sheet against the counter-top, to eliminate the air bubbles in the macarons.
10.) Let piped macarons sit out for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
11.) Preheat oven to 300 F and bake each sheet for 12-14 minutes.
12.) Let macarons cool completely before removing from parchment paper
13.) Pair likesize macaron shells and fill with desired ganache, jam, or my favorite Nutella :p. Serve in a few hours or store unfilled shells in airtight container in the freezer.

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IMG_3867 Post on variations coming soon :)

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