The macarons: Hey Tartelette! Could you stop squeeezing us like sardines in that box?
Me: You ain't seen nothing yet fellas! Better get some cold rest before you go.
The macarons: well, at least you did not forget the padding. It's really cozy in here. Are we there yet?
And off in the freezer they went until the next morning...
The macarons: hey, watch out! We are *so* not going into that suitcase! Ah, a carry-on bag, much better! Why are we underneath the pistachio-raspberry macarons? Are we there yet?
Me: Don't tell the others but if the airline crushes my bag, I need you and the pistachio macs to help me make a good first impression when I meet Jaden and Todd and Diane, ok? I promised them macarons you see!
The macarons: alright....Are we there yet?
Later that day at the airport...
TSA Dude: I need you to step aside M'am. We'd like to check your bag again.
Me: Ugh, ok...(while I am thinking: Oh come on! I only have food bloggers essentials here: camera gear, laptop and macarons. What the heck can possibly be wrong.)
And as he is reaching for the two dozens macarons I hear:
The macarons: Hey! Hands off man! We are on a very important mission here! We need to make it to Asheville in one piece. Are we there yet?
One security checkpoint and two planes later, Coffee and Chicory Macarons finally met my partners in crime in Asheville. The pistachio and raspberry ones also made it relatively unscathed. The other 3 dozens I brought in my suitcase did not look as good upon arrival, but nothing that stopped us from eating them! They all did a fair bit of traveling during those four days in Asheville. From the hotel room refrigerator to the shuttle in the morning and back to the room fridge for the night. Repeat the routine for four days.
Did any make it back? Nope. As if I was ready for another fun filled trip of them complaining about their tight confinement, their neighbors on the flight or how hot it can get in an airport! I am peculiar, yes. Not crazy. Yet. Although I admit that having imaginary conversations with my macarons officially puts me in the "odd" category now, ehehe.
I felt bad that Bill could not join me on the trip so I made another dozen of these Coffee and Chicory Macarons when I got back. Guess what he had for dinner on a couple of occasions I was not around? Yes! The Cookie Monster struck again and conveniently forgot about the lasagna I had left and went for the macs instead. I can't be mad, I have been eating "riz au lait" (rice pudding) for dinner lately. Best comforting food (with macarons) for a (still) aching back.
These are perfect two bite jolts of coffee with a chicory infused buttercream, ground espresso in the shells and a little streaks of coffee painted on the outside. For the buttercream, I just mixed boiling water with chicory grounds that I found in the bulk spice and herb section of the organic market I go to but you could replace the chicory with regular coffee grounds. I brushed the coffee streak on the shells after they had baked to keep the nice sheen of the paint.
One year ago: Apricots and Wattleseed Tea Cakes
Coffee and Chicory Macarons:
Makes 25 to 35 filled cookies
Notes: if you make macarons for the first time, I can never encourage you enough to read these pages.
I like to use egg whites that have been separated and left in the fridge for 5 days or until they are almost liquid in texture. It makes the shells very resistant and very well behaved which gives you an edge if you are new at making them.
For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (about 3)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds
1 teaspoon espresso powder
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. Place the powdered sugar, almonds and espresso powder 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 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. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and 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.
For the coffee paint:
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 tablespoon hot water
Dissolve the instant coffee in the hot water and gently brush the paint over the baked macaron shells. Let dry completely
For the buttercream:
2 teaspoons chicory
1 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Place the chicory and water in a small cup and heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave. Cool and reserve.
Place the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream (temperature should be about 235-238F). Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Add the reserved chicory mixture. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-8 minutes. Fill a pastry bag with it and pipe on the macarons.