November 03, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Vanilla Macarons & Thirty Days of Thankful - Baking

I love to cook and I think I love to bake even more.  While baking is more technically precise - once you understand the math behind your base ingredients, there's so much you can do to take an ordinary recipe and make it your own!  When you enter the kitchen to bake you get to play and taste...and just fall into a zen-like zone where you get to express yourself creatively.  Sure some baking experiments will come out badly, but that's part of the fun!

I came back from England with an affinity (OK...maybe obsession) with a few bakery items that are seemingly EVERYWHERE in England, but are a pretty rare commodity here.  One of those items is Macarons.  No.  I did not misspell "macaroon".  I'm not talking about those heavy coconut laden things.  After all - I'm allergic to coconut!  I'm taking about those light, airy, almond and meringue based cookies that originated in France.  They are amazing!

Vanilla Bean Macarons

2 3/4 cup almond flour (you can also make your own from blanched almonds in the food processor)
2 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup [7-8] large egg whites (room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean (cut lengthwise and scraped)

Preheat the oven to 325 and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

Blend the almond flour with the powdered sugar in the food processor to make mixture as fine as possible. Sift the mixture through a strainer to eliminate any large crumbs from forming on the macaron tops as they bake.

With the wire whip attachment on the electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt, starting slowly and then increasing speed as the whites start to rise. Add the granulated sugar and the vanilla bean scraping. Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks and your meringue is firm and shiny. Fold the egg whites into the almond meal mixture, using a rubber spatula. When you can’t see any crumbs of almond flour and the mixture is shiny and flowing you’re done mixing.

Fill your pastry bag and pipe even rounds onto the parchment paper.  (I like about 2 inch rounds.)  Leave an inch between each shell so they don't touch while baking. Tap your full sheet of rounds on the counter top to release any air bubbles and with wet fingers smooth down any peaks that are sticking up from piping.

Let the macarons rest for 10-15 minutes before baking.  Bake for 14 minutes, but about five minutes in open the oven door briefly to let the steam out! Let macarons cool completely before removing them from the parchment paper.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup powered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 vanilla bean (cut lengthwise and scraped)

Beat softened butter until fluffy.  Add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean scraping and beat until fully combined.  Slowly add the powered sugar and fully combine.  Add the heavy cream and beat the mixture on medium high for about 4 minutes until the buttercream is fluffy and smooth.  Pipe or spread buttercream on half of the cookies (flat side) and then sandwich together.

What's cooking in your kitchen?


  1. It actually bothers me that people pronounce them "macaroons." That is NOT how you pronounce it in French.


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