I know! Macarons...again! Before you roll your eyes and quit reading, indulge me for a minute, there is a story behind it. A lovely meeting with a fellow Daring Baker and an afternoon spent baking macarons...and a lot of them! Before I get to that, I must announce the winners of the Confetti Cakes For Kids Cookbook for which I let the Random Number Generator pick the five lucky you's.
#9: Dorothy from The Fat Free Tester Squad
#19: Allie (no blog)
# 76: Ruby from Ruby's Tuesday
#106: Sugar Chef
# 266: Erica from The Underground Cupcake
Congratulations ladies! Please send me an email at marinette1 at comcast dot net with your mailing address and I'll pass on all your info to the publisher.
Now...the rest of the story and the Pecan Pie Macarons. When I can't sleep at night, I usually don't count sheeps, I think of flavor combinations for macarons instead. Seriously. You think I'd joke about that?!! Problem is, the world in my head and the world around me don't always agree with each other but I knew this one would work. I have been meaning to make a pecan pie inspired macaron for ages but you know how it goes....your mind wonders off and before you know it you are baking something else that you "just had to make". I wanted these to have a French twist and instead of figuring out how to put the traditional pecan pie filling into a mac, I used salted butter caramel sauce. It's not like I need an occasion to make them but I pretexted C's birthday to put a few many of these together for her. However, it took a few years and an afternoon baking with a new friend to get my head together with my hands and my time on that one!
A few weeks ago, I was reading my favorite American in Paris, David Lebovitz, when I read Kim's comment about how she had slaved for two days over macarons and most of them flopped. Kim writes one of my favorite blogs, A Yankee In A Southern Kitchen and lives in the same town. "Get out!"....Seriously! We "met" over the internet last year and tried to get our schedules together to meet and it never happened. As a joke, I have started a list of all the dishes I would like her to make me when we meet. Crabcakes, Cola Ribs, Tomato Pie, and so many more are already on the list. After reading about her misadventures in macaron making, I sent her an email saying that if she needed help next time, not to hesitate and I'd be happy to give her a hand. Last week, Kim asked if we could get together this past Monday so I could give her a macaron 101 lesson. Yes, yes, yes!
Her kitchen is a foodie's dream: spacious, well equipped, bright with a huge window giving on the serenity of a beautiful garden. Now, let me add that meeting Kim was truly wonderful: cheery, full of Southern charm and hospitality and sweet as pie. Her daughter M. joined us and we spent the afternoon measuring, grinding, folding, piping, sprinkling, filling. We troubleshooted what went wrong the first time she made them and also figured out the proper settings for the ovens which was no small business. We made plain macarons Bourbon vanilla buttercream, pecan macarons with coconut cream cheese buttercream and peanut ginger macarons. The afternoon was graced by lovely weather, great conversations and laughs. I left with a skip in my step.
That evening as I was mentally registering all the delicious moments of the afternoon, I got a craving for the pecan macarons we made and decided it was time to make the Pecan Pie inspired one I have been thinking about. It also helped that I had plenty of egg whites and salted butter caramel sauce already made. The shells were half almonds and half pecans from our tree and the extra pecan boost was a little piece of pecan brittle in the middle. Hugh...yes....they are sweet....but dang! One is just perfect with a cup of coffee! So here's to new friends, new adventures and new experiences!
Pecan Pie Macarons:
Makes about 20
For the shells:
3 egg whites (about 90 gr)
40 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
55 gr almonds
55 gr pecans
For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds,pecans and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down.The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.
For the filling:
Half a recipe of Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
100 gr (1/2 cup) sugar
80 gr (3/4 cup) chopped pecans
Make the sauce and refrigerate until cold so it won't ooze out of your macarons when you sandwich them together (mine only did because it was hot upstairs where I photograph).
For the pecan brittle: Place the pecans on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy saucepan on high heat and cook until you get a golden caramel. Immediately pour it over the pecans and let sit until cold and hard. Crack the brittle in small pieces to fit inside your macarons. Place a about a tablespoon of sauce on one shell, add a piece of brittle and top with another macaron shell.