Pour l’amour de septembre

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This year September is about French macarons. I’ll have a new macaron variation for you each week.

Let’s kick the unofficial start of fall off with an earl grey macaron filled with orange marmalade Italian buttercream.

Infusing tea into macaron shells is a clever way of adding additional sense experience to the macaron eating experience.  Uhm.  What I mean is that, as most people know, smell is an important element of the eating experience. Earl grey has a wonderful floral and citrus nose to it.  So, even before you take your first bite, the seduction begins with the scent of oranges.  It works the same with other tea varietals…chai…green…lapsang soughing (okay fine, I just wanted to type that last one).

Buttercream, Italian or otherwise is also a great bet for filling macarons.  On its own, the filling is rich but stable (no need to worry about it squeezing out the sides).  It’s also a great neutral beginning to a host of added flavors.  In this recipe I’ve whipped in some orange marmalade.

Another fabulous thing about Italian buttercream is that sealed tightly in a ziplock freezer bag (don’t forget to label), it freezes extremely well.  This allows you to cut-off a frozen hunk, thaw it, add-in your choice of flavorings and then fill a dozen or so at a time.

A final note on aesthetics.  I’ve seen earl grey macarons in multiple macarooneries (if this isn’t already a word I’m claiming it).  However, they are often colored grey or even lavender.  I’m not really pro-grey food and I think the lavender is misleading.  So, in this recipe I added just a couple of drops of orange food gel coloring.  After all, earl grey tea gets its characteristic citrus scent from bergamot oranges (though, if I’m being honest, bergamots are actually yellow, not orange).  I also like how the light hue allows the speckles from the ground tea to show through.

Next week, a nod to Fiesta Hermosa (and no, I’m not making an edible driftwood clock or bedazzled acid-wash demin purse).

Earl Grey French Macarons with Italian Buttercream

For the shells

I have found the best way to get consist results with macarons is to use weight measurements.  

Make 20-24 shells

Ingredients

  • 60 grams almond meal
  • 100 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp earl grey tea, finely ground (I use a coffee grinder)
  • 20 grams granulated sugar
  • 50 grams egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 or so drops orange food gel if desired
  • Piping bag (a ziplock can be used in a pinch)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 315 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  I like to draw the circles with Sharpie on a couple of pieces of parchment as a stencil. In order to use them multiple times I lay another piece of parchment over the top.
  2. Weigh and measure out all of your ingredients.  When I’m making multiple batches I actually weigh out the almond flour, sugar and any other dry ingredients into separate zip-lock baggies and label them.
  3. In a food processor fitted with a blade, pulse together almond meal, tea and confectioner’s sugar.  Give it a few pulses then sift into a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  4. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or an electric hand mixer), add the egg whites.  Beat on medium low until frothy.
  5. Increase the speed and slowly add the granulated sugar and pinch of salt.
  6. Add-in your gel coloring if desired.
  7. Beat eggs until they form soft peaks.
  8. Working in three batches, add first portion of almond meal mixture to the egg-whites.  Gently fold until just combined.  Repeat with the additional two portions of meal folding to combine while using as few folds as possible.
  9. To test if the batter is ready to pipe, scoop about 1/4 tsp onto a flat surface.  The batter should act like lava and spread enough to lose its peak but not its shape.  I usually do this test several times starting at the point where everything is just combined.  If you under-mix the batter you can always give it a few more folds.  However, you are out of luck if you over mix.  So, err on the side of multiple tests.
  10. When the batter is ready, pour it into your piping bag.  To be honest, I don’t bother with a tip, I just snip the bag about an inch or so from the tip (eh…maybe a little less).
  11. Pipe your shells onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.
  12. Allow to sit for 10-60 minutes or until the shells appear dry.  I have found this process is heavily dependent on the weather.  The more moisture in the air, the longer they need to sit.
  13. Working with one sheet at a time, bake for about 20 minutes.  To test, gently grab one corner of the parchment and attempt to peel it from the shell.  A clean peel means the shells are done.  If they are sticky, back in the oven for another 5 minutes and test again.
  14. Let the shells cool but once cool, carefully remove from the parchment.  I have found that you don’t want to let the cooled shells sit on the parchment.

For the Italian Buttercream

The Italian buttercream is this week’s baking class derivative.  The instructor taught us how to test the syrup without using a candy thermometer and I want ed to practice.  The recipe included here uses a thermometer because I have no idea how to accurately describe the “drop syrup dab in  water and see if it forms a soft ball without totally scorching your finger tips method.”

And another thing.  You could half this recipe and still have enough to fill several dozen macarons.

Start with this recipe for Italian Buttercream from Gourmet Magazine (sniffle).  For a single batch of macarons you’ll only need a quarter of the buttercream (at most).  To the portioned buttercream add about 1/2 cup of orange marmalade.  Whip frosting to incorporate.  Frost macarons as desired.  Store remaining frosting in a sealed container in fridge (eh…maybe a week) or freezer (up to a couple of months).

 

 

 

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