Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pecan and Peach Butter Macarons

Macarons are the latest trend in the dessert world. Every bakery around the corner seems to be selling them, although some are better than others. This macaron is a Georgia twist on the French classic. Made with pecans and local Georgia peach butter (similar to a jam), they are the perfect dessert to have after some soul food.

When I eat a macaron, I look for texture and flavor. It should have a crispy outside, but the inside should be moist and cakey. The flavor should be full and nutty. The filling should be strong, but balanced with the shell. It is not easy to make all of this happen in one cookie, but following some simple tips can help you get there! It is very important to allow your macarons to sit overnight in the refrigerator or freezer so that the flavors develop and the texture softens. The macaron will suck up the moisture from the fridge to yield a soft, chewy product instead of a crispy one. The flavors will not only be embedded in the filling, but the shell will also absorb the flavors. Eating a macaron as soon as it's assembled is delicious, but if you let it sit over night, it only gets better! Just set them out so that they warm to room temperature before you eat them!

Pecan and Peach Butter Macarons (makes about 20 macarons)

Shells
50 g Almond Flour
50 g Pecan Pieces
120 g Confectioner's Sugar
50 g Granulated Sugar
70 g Egg White (2 large whites)
Toasted, Crushed Pecan Pieces

1. Pulse almond flour, confectioner's sugar, and pecans in food processor until very finely ground. Be careful not to grind too long, because it will release all of the oils, ruining your final product.
2. Sift the powder with a medium-mesh sieve.
3. Place the particles that are too large to fit through the sieve back into the food processor, pulse, and sift again. Throw out the excess pieces.
4. In a grease-free bowl, place your egg whites and sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes to begin to dissolve.
5. Use grease-free beaters on high speed to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
6. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until the batter moves slowly, like lava. If you run your spatula through it, it should fall together after 5-7 seconds.
7. Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (3/8 inch). 
8. Pipe rounds that are about an inch apart onto a nonstick baking mat (silpat) that is placed onto a cookie sheet. 
9. Do this by holding the bag straight up about half an inch above the silpat, applying pressure to the bag until about 1 inch in diameter, stopping pressure, and then removing by moving hand in a very small circular motion to release the tip from the macaron shell. Make sure there is enough space to spread.
10. Rap your cookie sheet/sheet pan on the table a few times to make sure there are no bumps on the macaron shells. 
11. Before they dry, sprinkle some crushed pecan pieces on one side of the shell. 
12. Let rest until dry to the touch (about 30-45 minutes, longer on rainy days).
13. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. If you have a convection oven, use convection.
14. Bake macaron shells on the second shelf of the oven for 14-17 minutes, until they do not wiggle when nudged.
15. Remove from oven and allow shells to cool completely before removing from the silpat.

Peach Butter Buttercream Filling
1 Egg White
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Peach Butter/Peach Jam

1. Fill a pot with some water and begin to boil.
2. Place the egg white and sugar into a medium sized, heat proof, grease-free bowl. Place over the boiling water.
3. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved (110 degrees F). Check by rubbing the mixture between your fingers to feel for sugar granules.
4. Mix on high speed to make a meringue.
5. When cool to the touch, add softened butter and mix until it comes together.
6. It will break apart and look like scrambled eggs. Continue to mix until it becomes a soft paste.
7. Add the peach jam to the buttercream and mix until completely incorporated.  The buttercream may not be completely smooth, but it will work fine for a filling for a macaron.

Assembly
1. Pair the shells by size. You should have about 20 pairs of shells.
2. Put the buttercream into a piping bag with the same tip that you used to pipe the macarons.
3. Pipe the buttercream so that it is covering about 3/4 of the surface of the bottom of the shell.
4. Put the pairs together to create a "sandwich". 
5. Place in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
6. Let the macarons come to room temperature before you serve them.

The recipe for the shells is a recipe adapted from Artful Food, a blog made by a couple friends of mine! Annie and Connie are extremely talented! They bake to help fund raise for many different non profits and clubs at their school. Their macarons are absolutely beautiful, and I definitely recommend using their recipe for macaron shells.

If you would like to save your macarons for later, place into an airtight container and freeze. Bring the macarons to room temperature before you serve them. I love to make macarons, so you can definitely expect more flavors on this blog! Comment with any suggestions!

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