Welcome to The Cookie Monster, a blog about the most marvelous, versatile, and beloved bakeable item in the land: The cookie. You may see occassional forays into pies, bars, and other sweet treats, but my main focus is and has always been on the bite sized genius behind my very favorite snack. Happy Baking!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vanilla Macarons with White Chocolate Buttercream

Ever since my dear friend Sarah and I had a moderately successful experience making the finicky yet delicious Macaron I've been meaning to give them another go.  The somewhat labor intensive process, coupled with the expense of buying almond meal (the key ingredient) continued to put off this project until at last I broke down at the supermarket and bought the needed supplies last week.

Couple that with a very stressful week at work, and a challenging "baking for fun" project was an absolute must. 

I've had my eye on this recipe, spotted on pinterest months ago, which comes along with some excellent direction and troubleshooting tips for these bad boys.  Here is my version:

115 grams blanched almond flour
230 grams powdered sugar
144 grams egg whites
72 grams sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

White Chocolate butter cream frosting (recipe to follow) after the jump.

Now, when I called these cookies finicky, I really wasn't kidding.  Note the "gram" measurements in the place of my usual "cup," "pinch" or "teaspoon."  As a result the prep for these cookies takes quite a bit more time than usual.  Once you've got all your ingredients measured out, you can start by whipping together the egg whites, sugar and salt in your electric mixer.  The trick is to beat them slowly at first, then faster, and faster, for a combined total of about 10 minutes of beating. I kicked up the speed about every 3 minutes per the recipe's instruction.

When you're done you should be left with a VERY stuff meringue. No soft peaks here, you should have a big clump of the good stuff clinging to your whisk attachment.
Success.  Now add in your vanilla extract, and any food coloring you may wish to include (I decided to leave my cookies au naturale.  Beat on high for an additional minute.
While your egg whites are beating away, sift together your almond flour and powdered sugar into one bowl.  This step actually caused me to wait a full 24 hours from my original baking effort....as I had to go out and buy a sifter that could efficiently get the job done.  $3.99 at Stop and Shop, baby.
Once you have sifted almond flour and powdered sugar, and you have very stiff egg white peaks, it's time for the fabled "macaronage" which give these cookies their trademark light texture and smooth shiny finish.  Dump all your dry ingredients into your meringue.  Don't despair.  They will actually combine, even though it will closely resemble an oil and vinegar situation.
Okay, now its time to fold and press.  Fold the meringue over the dry ingredients, then press the mixture towards the side of the bowl to deflate the meringue.  It took me about 45 fold and press strokes to get everything incorporated.  You want the batter to hold it shape for about 20 seconds, then start to meld back into the batter.
You do NOT want to mix your batter so much that it becomes runny, it has to hold its shape a bit, so that you can pipe it onto your parchment lined baking sheet.  Speaking of piping, its time to stuff your piping bag....
 This it the fun, yet messy part.  My hands were more or less completely coated with batter.  Anyhoo, onto the baking sheet in little one inch circles.....
Before you pop these in the oven, give them a good WACK on to counter top.  Then give them one or two more good wacks.  This apparently dislodges air bubbles, and helps create the ideal "foot" at the base of the cookie.  So Wack away.
Then, bake at 300F for 18 minutes.  I was watching very diligently, and noticed about 5 minutes in that some of my macarons would meet an untimely end.  Oven temperature is VERY important, and the whole bottom sheet was too hot, causing the macarons to crack.  The top sheet came out very well, in fact.  Next time I will experiment a bit with my oven rack placement.  This is a trial and error process, as every oven is different. 
But let's stick to the positive....
 Check out the lovely little "feet" on these macarons!  Score! As they cooled off on their baking sheets (they're delicate, so try not to move them right away) I whipped up a quick white chocolate butter cream frosting....
Ingredients: 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter, softened, 3 ounces melted white chocolate, milk as needed to thin (I didn't need any milk for mine) I also added some baby blue food coloring, just to give the cookies a pop of color.
Sandwich time!
Sad :( But still delicious.  Not to worry.  OK back to Happy...
I had about a 50% success rate, which I'm happy with for now.  I think playing around with my oven, and perhaps mixing the batter a little more evenly will help me in the next go 'round.  All in all though, these are lovely.  And they're even more lovely because I made them just for fun :)
I hope you all have a wonderful Labor day weekend!!! And check it out...I'm like super pregnant all of the sudden.
Which is why I suck at blogging lately.  Apologies!  I'll work on it.  Happy Baking!

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