A few weeks ago, I was given a new task at the restaurant - macarons.
Each technique - meringue, folding, airating, piping, hardening, baking - was demonstrated to me by the sous chef who, obviously, had much more experience with this than me.
When I'm not folding meringue into almond flour and confectioner's sugar or piping thousands of these delicate cookies, I am researching their history, cross-referencing recipes and tyring to absorb tips from other pastry chefs.
It's fair to say I've fallen pretty hard for these tempermental little beauties. It might also be fair to say I'm a bit of a nerd. But we knew that.
Saturday morning I set about creating macarons for a friend's 'Iron Chef'-inspired dinner party that evening. Peanut butter was the chosen ingredient we had to use in all our dishes.
So, as an amuse bouche, I created peanut butter macarons: macarons with crushed, candied peanuts with creamy peanut butter filling.
If you are a nerd about pastry (guilty) or suspect you may become a little obsessed with making these cookies (also guilty), I highly recommend reading and re-reading this tutorial on macaron making, posted by the wonderfully, talented blogger Tartelette (her blog is one of my favorites). Aside from watching someone actually create macarons, this is the best information I have found.
Peanut Butter Macarons
68 grams (two large eggs) egg whites, aged at room temperature for 24 hours
34 grams granulated sugar
74 grams almond flour
136 grams powdered sugar
Candied peanuts, finely chopped
Peanut butter, for filling
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk on low-medium speed until frothy.
Add the granulated sugar a little bit at a time. Allow the sugar to incorporate fully before making the next addition.
When all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium and allow meringue to form stiff peaks. To test, remove the bowl from the mixer and turn upside down. There should be no movement in the meringue.
Combine the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor. Process until you cannot distinguish the flour from the sugar, about 30 seconds. Place into large mixing bowl.
Add half of the meringue to the flour-sugar mixture. Using a strong spatula, begin combining the two elements. During this first combination, you actually want to combine the two rather vigorously. Do not be gentle – you have to reduce the air in the meringue somewhat or your macarons will be too “puffy”. Continue for about 35 turns.
Add the remaining meringue and, now, fold the meringue into the mixture. Continue for no more than 15 turns, or until you can no longer distinguish between the two.
Fit a pastry bag with a #806 tip. Alternatively, you can use a Ziplock bag and cut a corner to your desired width. Fill the bag with the macaron mixture.
Pipe about 1”rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a SilPat. Leave plenty of room between the macarons – they will expand!
Sprinkle the macarons with the chopped candied peanuts, if desired. Allow the macarons to sit 30 minutes to one hour to develop a shell.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Bake macarons for 10 to 12 minutes, until shells are just slightly golden.
When shells are completely cool, pipe or spread a bit of peanut butter on the flat side of one macaron and sandwich with another.