Macarons and My Love for Vanilla Beans

Sometimes I treat my ingredients as treasures or expensive clothes I buy and never wear. That is what happens to me with vanilla sugar. I know, I know, it makes no sense. Let me explain. As you all know, vanilla bean prices are up the roof so when I use one, I can’t just throw it away. I use it and reuse it. If I have used it in a custard, I rinse it in hot water to be able to add it to some sugar.

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!


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54 Responses to “Macarons and My Love for Vanilla Beans”

  1. ooooo gorgeous, I am hoping to make macarons for the first time soon, don’t think I’d get egg white powder in Ireland though, any substitutes?

  2. RecipeGirl says:

    Absolutely gorgeous and decidedly delicious looking. Vanilla is my favorite.

    I’ve been wondering about Vanilla Sugar ever since I read a post by The Knead for Bread blog. It sounds like something I would love but have yet to come across.

  3. Bridget says:

    Aran…these look so good! I love the smell of vanilla also…you SHOULD have sprinkled it in your hair!!! :)

    I always store vanilla beans in my sugar, but didn’t know about gringing it in the food processor. Yum! Do you just grind the whole dried beans with the sugar? For how long?

    One more…in your recipe…do you refrigerate the egg whites overnight?

    Thanks!

  4. Aran says:

    Rachel- you can omit the egg white powder. try it!

    RecipeGirl- try it next time you have leftover beans. it smells sooo good!

    Bridget- I should have sprinkled it in my hair! Grind the sugar and vanilla until fine powder. you will see tiny specs of vanilla. Then sift it through a sifter to get rid of chunky, stringy vanilla. And yes, refrigerate the egg whites overnight.

    Thank you girls!

  5. Veron says:

    I do love vanilla macarons, the fragrant vanilla beans simply are unparalleled! Gorgeous macarons, Aran!

  6. Hola Aran:
    Maravillosos macarons. Yo también los hago. Me gustan y quedan muy bonitos. Tienes un blog magnífico y unas fotos extraordinarias. No te había descubierto hasta ahora, pero ya he puesto un enlace en mi blog pra no perderme nada de lo que tan maravilosamente haces. Gracias por tu visita y nos vemos. Besos desde España

  7. M says:

    Thats a must try recipe! Thank you :)
    And I loved what you wrote about treating the ingredients as treasures.

  8. Ginny says:

    I always shy away from vanilla beans because they are so expensive- what a great idea to get more use out of them. thanks!

  9. Aran, these are heavenly – I just made a few macaroons for my mom without the cream filling, using your earlier recipe. They taste really good and have come out the way I wanted them to, only they don’t look as nice are yours. Will put them up this evening – do look up and let me know what you think! Now you are really inspiring me to make only macaroons and nothing else – though I don’t eat them!!

  10. Mandy says:

    oh my! I can totally identify with you about saving the expensive ingredients part! Bet these macarons are to die for. :)

  11. Peabody says:

    Mmm, vanilla sugar is the best. These look great.

  12. Anonymous says:

    yummy…. it looks great
    Amazing Maldives

  13. PheMom says:

    Oh, they look wonderful. I know what you mean about the ingredients. I was doing the same thing today with my chocolate and some vanilla bean paste I have. I swear, I hoard ingredients and decide if a recipe is “worthy” or not! LOL! Great job!

  14. Mobula says:

    Hola Aran!!!

    Otra de mis perdiciones que no me acaban de salir bien. Me encantan los macarons pero las veces que lo he intentado la masa se me ha quedado muy líquida y al ponerla sobre el silpat se me espachurran todas, de todos modos yo los horneo y están riquísimos pero esas galletiras tan perfectas, como que no… pero un día de estos lo volveré a intentar, tengo otra arma, las explicaciones de tartelette.

    besos,

    Ana

  15. Suzana says:

    Aran, those are awesome macaroons!! I’m yet to find my way to bake those beauties – I’ll have to do it shortly!

  16. Y says:

    So beautiful in their simplicity! I love the smell of vanilla too. Once you’ve tried the real stuff, it’s hard to ever settle for cheap essence!

  17. Ann says:

    *swoon* Those look heavenly!

    My grandmother used to dab vanilla extract behind my ears… it was my first “perfume” experience. :-)

  18. Bria says:

    Wow these look amazing! I absolutely love your blog and check back everyday hoping you’ve made something else!

    Do you find much difference between using french meringue rather than italian? Ive tried macarons a few times, always with an italian meringue but they havent ever been perfect. My last attempt was the closest Ive got, but the tops slid off sideways :(

  19. Inne says:

    Such perfect-looking macarons Aran! I share your love for vanilla sugar but hadn’t thought of grinding it, thanks for the tip. Whenever I use vanilla beans I shove them in my sugar jar afterwards and when the sugar runs out I just refill the jar. So far that seems to work, my sugar keeps on smelling of vanilla.

  20. I think I am going to have to try these out and use them as decoration for my next cake…they sound too delicious to pass up!

  21. Cakespy says:

    Oh goodness, goodness, goodness me! Forget my macarons on unicorns–this is where the real magic is!! As someone lucky enough to have tasted some of your baking, I’ll bet these are simply swoon-worthy!

  22. These look so simple and perfect. Is that an olive dish?

    Someone gave me a pack of 60-80 vanilla beans. That was a great present.

    What almond flour are you using? I haven’t been happy with what i’ve bought here (it’s quite coarse) and i’m not sure if an online product will produce significantly better results than what I can make with a food processor.

  23. Aran says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments! I try to answer all comments either here or by replying to your email address but if I have missed anyone, please forgive me. It is hard to come to the computer during the day with my little one.

    Lisa- I use Bob’s Red Mill almond flour and I really like it. If your almond flour is too coarse, try grinding it in the food processor with your powdered sugar. That works great. And yes, that’s an olive dish. I love it! And you got how many vanilla beans? That’s crazy! I guess for me that’s like getting a pair of Christian Louboutins or a Chanel bag! lucky you!

  24. Gloria says:

    What’s delicious macarons!!! Looks wonderful! x Gloria

  25. Candace says:

    What beautiful Macarons! You always do such gorgeous pastries. I’m feeling a bit o’ blog envy! :) Keep it up!

  26. Kevin says:

    Those vanilla bean macaroons sound so good!! I like the idea of grinding the sugar and vanilla beans.

  27. Tartelette says:

    Eheeh….dare I tell you how old the beans are in my sugar jar?!! I also do that with Tonka beans, cinnamon and cardamom…so yeah, while some have several kinds of oilve oils I make different sugars :)…Addicted!!
    The macarons are lovely and I can smell that vanilla bean from here!

  28. More inspiration, thanks Aran! I keep a separate ziploc bag just for used vanilla pods, with the intention of one day putting them in sugar, in vodka and anything else I can think of. Well, I think I’ve procrastinated long enough, thanks for the kick up the you know what!

    P.S. I’d give my beautiful copper mixing bowl up for one of those macaroons!

  29. Katie says:

    Beautiful, I will have to make some vanilla sugar one of these days.

  30. Deborah says:

    These sound so amazing! Makes me want to run out and buy some vanilla beans just to make vanilla sugar with!

  31. Emily says:

    How amazing. I’m drooling and planning on making them… one small problem though. I’m allergic to tree nuts, so almond flour is out for me. I can’t even handle the stuff. Obviously, I’ll have to omit it, but what would you recommend that I use as a substitute? Regular flour?

  32. Aran says:

    Hi Emily- Are you allergic to all tree nuts? I make them with hazelnut flour in case you are not allergic to hazelnuts. the traditional macaron has some kind of tree nut so I really don’t know what else you could use. I don’t think flour would work because it is a completely different ingredient. the texture would definitely not be the same. Are coconuts tree nuts? Excuse my ignorance… If you can have coconut, you can try to use unsweetened coconut, also known as coconut rape. I haven’t tried that either but I think it could work. Does that help?

  33. Emily says:

    Hello!
    All tree nuts are out, sadly. It is very depressing that I can never eat marzipan or another hazelnut again.

    However, I get away with coconuts with no effects, so I will try that option. Thanks very much.

  34. Aran says:

    Emily I hope you try them and let us know if they turned out. I should try them myself!

  35. These sound wonderful. I am going to try them out and add to my macarron file!

  36. Hi, I just came back to show my H. your macaroons – he thought mine were good (We don’t get much in India!) though the tops were a little sticky and they did not taste perfect! I just had to show him what perfection is – and you know what – he felt that maybe you girls use moulds – Ha ha!

  37. Milli says:

    Hello Aran,
    these are absolutely beautiful.
    What kind of powdered sugar do you use?
    Because I thought that most of the store bought powdered sugars contain corn starch and will not make the proper macaron.
    Did you use the kind with corn starch in it as well?

  38. Aran says:

    Hi Milli-
    Yes, I use regular powdered sugar (Whole Foods brand most of the time) and it does has a bit of cornstarch in it. It has never affected my macarons really.
    Hope that helps!

  39. I hope I can write in french, my English is too bad. Je fais exactement la même chose avec mes gousses de vanille.

  40. Lisa says:

    Being a diehard vanilla girl myself, I think I’m in love with your macarons. They’re not only beautiful, but my mouth is watering like crazy. I’ll be using my vanilla sugar in my next batch, soon to be blogged :)

  41. Foodie says:

    consider this recipe stolen! looks simple yet good! =)

  42. Anonymous says:

    Did you use a convection oven to bake the macarons?

  43. Aran says:

    Anobymous- no, i always use conventional.

  44. Anonymous says:

    I made the recipe and the macarons looked perfect. They rose properly with the feet and everything. However, when I ate them they were very crunchy and the texture was off. They did not have crumbly, delicate nature to them I find in macarons from patisseries. Do you have any tips on how to fix this?

  45. Aran says:

    Anonymous- it sounds like they might have been overbaked. Next time, don’t follow the time I indicated in the recipe because all ovens are different. take them out before. Check one by lifting it and seeing if some of the bottom is still moist and sticks to the mat. Remove the pan from the oven and let the macarons cool completely on the pan. This should keep the outside crunchy but interior moist. Good luck!

  46. Anonymous says:

    what a great idea. the macarons look scrumptious. just curious why you spell them macaroons sometimes, those are completely different!

  47. Aran says:

    Anonymous- that must be a spelling mistake on my part as i know well the difference between macarons and macaroons. thanks.

  48. Kaitlin says:

    This recipe looks so good! I am going to attempt it tomorrow (after my egg whites age), but I have already run into a problem – I bought vanilla powder instead of vanilla sugar. So, for the vanilla sugar I was going to sub 80g caster sugar minus 2tsps and 2tsps of vanilla powder. I have never worked with vanilla powder before, do you think this will work out? Thanks!

  49. Kaitlin- that’s fine. don’t take any of the sugar out hough, just add some vanilla powder, maybe 1 tsp and see if that will be enough vanilla flavor for you. good luck!

  50. Susan says:

    Beautiful recipe. My macarons turned out gorgeous. Thanks so much for teaching us!

  51. Amy says:

    Aran, I would love to know what you do with all the egg yolks you are left with after making macarons. I have so many egg yolks to use up. I have made icecream & mayonaise, but always seems to have more eggs yolks than I can use. Would be great if you could offer some suggestions or even better do a post on how to use them up, how long they keep, and how to store etc. have you any ideas of ways that I could use them an freeze for later use. I am hoping to make your meyer lemon semifreddo. One idea that i have is to make your Pate a bombe and freeze this for future use? Is this possible? How else can I use egg yolks? Thanks for you help.

  52. Sara says:

    Ive seen recipes using ground cookies such as Maryland cookies-and they’ve turned out pretty good actually! Now Emily might not see this but you might want to try it! If you can’t did a recipe online just ask me and I’ll translate one from
    A Swedish blog post I saw once ;)

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