My macaron fever has not died down one little bit. In fact, the opposite seems to be happening. With each new batch I try, the more comfortable I become with these sometimes temperamental cookies, and the more I find myself wanting to make them. I’m constantly thinking of which flavor combination to try next. This particular combination occurred to me while I was thinking of spring-inspired treats. I adore little flecks of vanilla bean in just about any dessert, and in a macaron shell it makes my heart pitter-patter. Sandwiched with a jewel-toned raspberry filling, the combination is one I just couldn’t resist.
One important thing to know is that because the fruit filling has a lot more moisture than a standard buttercream or frosting that often fills macarons, it will effect the texture of the cookie the longer they are assembled. I learned this the hard way, by coming downstairs the morning after I made these beauties to find that all the leftover cookies had taken on a less than appealing mushy texture. And yes, I was going to have one for breakfast – can you blame me? The moral of the story is to fill just before serving…or eat all the macarons, pronto!
Quick housekeeping note: Thank you SO MUCH to all who entered the Earth Day giveaways. It was truly heartening to read all of the efforts, small and large, that my readers are making to help nurture our environment. It makes me so proud to “know” you all! If you looking for more changes you can make, I urge you to go back to the Earth Day post and read through the comments. There are some fantastic suggestions and I am so inspired! As for the winners, here they are:
The sets of RuMe bags go to:
Carolyn, who said, “I bring my own PBA-free Nalgene bottle every where I go so I never have to drink bottled drink. I’ve also started using cloth napkins and reusable rags for cleaning to eliminate paper towel waste. Any my big change for the year – I now ride the bus to work! Saves a LOT of gas, even though I don’t live that far from the office. Who knew?”
Julie, who said, “I just joined a CSA! I can’t wait for my first box! I also always use refilable water bottles and reusable bags. But my current ones are totally dingy and I could really use a new set.”
The Green B.E.A.N. Delivery gift certificates go to:
Amanda, who said, “In my home, we do a lot of recycling as far as paper, cans and glasses. We also always use our resueable shopping bags whenever possible. We have a nice garden in the summer (since weather in Indy in the winter is unbaearable) which helps us use lots of fresh produce, YUM! It would be AWESOME to win the Green Bean Giveaway, I have been wanting to try a service like this for a while.”
Kim, who said, “We started a compost pile last year and are joining our first CSA this year. I also use reusable grocery bags and recycle paper. I also use reusable water bottles. I’m excited because I just got a fuel-efficient car and can stack my errands to all be done at once while using less gas at the same time! I’m an Indy reader and would love the Green B.E.A.N. delivery!”
Vanilla Bean Macarons with Raspberry Filling
Yield: about 2 dozen sandwich cookies
For the macarons:*
110 grams almonds (blanched or slivered)
200 grams confectioners’ sugar
100 grams egg whites, aged at room temperature for 12-24 hours
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
¼ tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
50 grams granulated sugar
For the filling:
8 oz. frozen raspberries, thawed
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1½ tbsp. cornstarch
½ tsp. lemon juice
*Note: All of the measurements for this recipe are listed by weight. A kitchen scale is necessary for making macarons. Attempting to make these by volume measure would likely be a waste of time and ingredients, so volume measurements are not provided.
To make the macarons, pulse the almonds and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground and well blended. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod into the mixing bowl. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until a smooth, shiny meringue with stiff peaks forms. Blend in the vanilla extract, if using. Add the ground almond mixture to the bowl with the meringue and quickly but gently fold together using a wide rubber spatula until no streaks remain. You want to achieve a thick batter that ribbons or flows from the spatula when lifted.
Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain wide round tip. Pipe into small rounds on the prepared baking sheets (each round should be about 1-1½ inches in diameter), spaced about 1 inch apart. Let sit at room temperature for about an hour to develop a hard shell.
Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on size. (Baking time can vary widely due to humidity and other factors of your kitchen environment. To test whether or not the cookies are done, let cool for a minute until cool enough to touch. Carefully attempt to remove one shell from the silpat. If it cracks at all or does not remain intact, continue to bake until one is removed intact.) Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before moving the cookies.
To make the filling, drain the thawed raspberries, reserving the liquid in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough water to equal ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the liquid, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Mix well. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Stir the raspberries into the cooled mixture. (Depending on the texture of the filling you want, you can smash the berries or leave them chunky. You can also strain through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds if desired.) Transfer to the refrigerator to chill the filling. It will thicken as it cools.
When you are ready to serve the cookies, match them up by size. Pipe a small dollop of raspberry filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair. Sandwich together with the remaining cookie, pushing the filling to the edges. Serve within 6-8 hours. If not filling immediately, store the shells in an airtight container.