Thank you immensely for the warm birthday wishes and emails. You guys are the best! Phew! This past week was filled with opportunities to take me away from updating more often. Work related issues to ponder, projects, family. I decided to put my mind on a break for a few days. Break is over now. Does that happen to you too? This feeling that the cup is full and you need to just press "pause" for a couple of days? There is always a sweet moment involved for me though. One filled with Creme Brulee Pistachio Macarons for example. As good as a red rose on your birthday.
Jen emailed me recently that she was making macarons and that sent me into a mini brainstorming session. I quickly replied with "I've had this idea for a while to make a creme brulee filled macarons. I just need to sit on the logistics for a minute". I pretty much knew how to go about it but there is always this doubt that your idea may be better in your head than the actual production.
When I told Bill about it, he gave me this look of "You and your macaron ideas! Why?". In a cocky French way I simply replied "I want Pierre Herme to personally email me and say "I give up - You win". Yes, just that. I am never that bold about what I do which surprised me a great deal. I am such a dork! I think I even scared Y one evening we were talking about it and she got utterly confused when I said "I am having a throw down with Pierre Herme, except he does not know about it. It's all in my head".
What can I say? Engineering macarons relaxes my brain cells.
For the filling I used a basic creme brulee recipe, and baked it into an 8x8 square pan lined with foil and set in a larger roasting pan filled with water. I turned the heat lower than for regular creme brulees and watched it carefully. Once baked and cooled to room temperature I refrigerated the pan overnight before using it in the macaron. To fill, I used a small cookie cutter and cut out rounds in the baked creme brulee, gently lifted them onto a macaron shell and topped it with another one. Make sure to refrigerate these a couple of hours before eating so that all the flavors have the chance to meld. Take these out of the refrigerator only 15 to 20 minutes before serving. The creme brulee my turn on you or become too soft to be handled properly.
Speaking of engineering... I've got something to share with you that has me so excited I could burst!! Two weeks from now Bill and I will be sitting down with Jen and Jeremy at a table at The Kitchen. In Colorado. Yeah!! B. is going there for work and Jen graciously invited me over so I could spend some time with her in the kitchen, in town and on the trails. When all the oks came in, I started mapping out the drive, getting guides, etc... Yes, you read right, we are driving the 1700 miles or so to get there. We are well aware of all the bumps in the road (no pun intended) with a road trip but I plan on making a bunch of sweet treats to smooth things out if needed. No argument can last long with a macaron in hand!
One year ago: Lemon Madeleines.
Two years ago: Rhubarb Cupcakes.
Creme Brulee Pistachio Macarons:
For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (preferably aged overnight in the fridge or on your countertop if the kitchen is relatively cool)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
55 gr almonds
55 gr raw pistachios
powdered green food coloring (I only used a tiny amount to bump up the green from the nuts)
For the creme brulee filling:
1/2 cup (125ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, seeded (see note)
1/4 cup (50gr) sugar
2 egg yolks
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar, almonds and pistachios in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue along with some food coloring if using, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. 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 or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F. When ready, bake for 15 to 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. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of butterceam in the center of one shell and top with another one.
Prepare the creme brulee filling:
Preheat the oven to 300F and position a rack in the enter. Line a 8x8-inch square pan with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray or melted butter. Place this pan in a larger roasting pan and set aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat bring the milk, heavy cream and vanilla bean seeds to a simmer. In the meantime, whisk together the sugar and egg yolk together in a large bowl until the mixture is pale. When the milk/cream is hot, slowly pour it over the egg yolk and sugar, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curddling. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, skim the foam on top and pour it into the prepared baking pan. Fill the roasting pan with water so that it comes about halfway up the side of the creme brulee pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. It is ok if the center still appears a little wiggly. It will set as it cools.
Let cool to room temperature before refirgerating preferably overnight.
Note: to seed a vanilla bean: place it on a flat surface and cut it in half lenghtwise without cutting all the way through. Scrape the seeds inside with a pairing knife. You can add both seeds and pods to the milk and cream as they heat up but remove the pod before whisking the liquids into the eggs and sugar.
Do not throw away your bean! Wash it, let it dry and add to some sugar for vanilla scented sugar in a pinch.
When ready to assemble the macarons, cut out rounds smaller than the diameters of the shells into the brulee filling and place it on top of a shell. Top with a second one but do not press down.