I have been accumulating large amounts of used vanilla beans that I place in a container of granulated sugar. That container probably holds about 250 grams of sugar and about 4 vanilla beans so you can imagine the fragrance that comes out of it when opened. I have been saving this sugar for some special occasion. You know, I don’t have a specific recipe that calls for vanilla sugar and I don’t want to waste it so I keep holding on to it like some expensive coat I cannot give away.
Last week, I decided it was time to use it but it had to be in something where the vanilla would really show. Vanilla macarons, that is!
I took my container of vanilla sugar with dried vanilla beans and I ground it in my small food processor. Oh goodness, the aroma that came out after I removed the top… Heaven. I wanted to sprinkle some on my hair and walk outside smelling like a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. Which reminds of me of my friend Julene. We went to high school together and I loved her smell. She used to wear a vanilla essential oil from The Body Shop that would always make me hungry.
Anyhow back to the macarons… I ground the vanilla sugar and passed it through a medium size sieve to get rid of the large pieces of dry vanilla. This is what I used to make the macarons an let me tell you, they are fragrant!!!
Vanilla Bean Macarons
180 grams almond flour
240 grams powdered sugar
140 grams organic egg whites, aged
3 grams egg white powder
2 grams fine sea salt
80 grams vanilla sugar
Make sure that the egg whites have been separated from the egg yolks the night before. This bit of aging really makes a difference in the macarons.
In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour, powdered sugar and sea salt. Set aside.
Whip the egg whites with the egg white powder until very fluffy, almost fully whipped. Start adding the vanilla sugar slowly while whipping. Whip to stiff peaks but not too much or the meringue will dry out. We want semi soft “ripples” still in the meringue.
Add the meringue to the almond flour mixture and fold with a spatula until a shiny mass forms. We want to achieve a batter that makes ribbons. You might have to test it to see if it’s done. Pipe a small amount on your sheetpan. If it keeps a little bit of a top when piped, then you have to mix it a bit further, if it spreads really fast, you have gone too far and your macarons will turn out flat.
When you have the right consistency, place the mass in a pastry bag with a number 5 tip and pipe small rounds onto sheetpans lined with parchment or silpat. Let them dry at room temperature for at least 45 minutes to an hour.
Have the oven preheated to 350 degrees. Place one sheetpan in the oven at a time and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes and rotate sheetpan and bake for another 10 minutes. Test to see if they are done by picking one up and seing if it still sticks to the paper or not.
Let them cool and then fill them with the buttercream.
And more on macarons, check out Tartelette for a full macaron tutorial (priceless!) and the witty and clever post on the war between the two French beauties the madeleine and the macaron at Cakespy. I can’t get enough of those two!