I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Rest In Peace

I'm not one to lay awake, tossing and turning at night fraught with stress and anxiety. Usually, I'm lucky if a full 30 seconds pass after my head hits the pillow before my sweet dreams barge into the darkness. But lately that hasn't been the case. Thoughts of recent failures swirl in my head night after night, making sleep nearly impossible. Whispers and voices were mocking me and I had to find the source of those voices...had to smother it with my pillow and put it on permanent hiatus.

Late one night after the haunting started, I stole through the darkness and followed the voices. Since the last Daring Bakers' challenge had been the source of my nightmares, it was no surprise that the voices led me straight to the leftover almond flour in my pantry. The bag sat on the shelf taunting me, issuing a challenge to do better. And in an effort to reduce the black circles forming under my eyes, I accepted that challenge.

The source for my original attempt gone very wrong at espresso flavored macaroons came from the September 2008 issue of the now defunct Gourmet magazine. I had torn the recipe from the magazine and filed it away and since I had just enough uber-expensive almond flour to try this recipe, I figured there was nothing to lose but more precious beauty sleep.

Maybe it was because I had already failed once and learned from my mistakes. Maybe it was because Gourmet's recipe was just a better recipe. Either way, I can finally claim victory over the doomed macaroons and peaceful slumber will soon be mine. I've copied the recipe in its entirety but chose not to use the blackberry jelly, opting instead for Nutella hazelnut spread. The combination produced an excellent tasting caffeine and chocolate jolt to the system guaranteed to keep anyone awake for days should you get so excited that you nearly eat the entire batch (ask me how I know that).

Sweet dreams....

Espresso-Blackberry Macarons
September 2008

Makes 2 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies

For macarons
3 oz almond flour (2/3 cup) or blanched sliced almonds (3/4 cup) or slivered almonds (2/3 cup)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon instant-espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large egg whites, at room temperature 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
For filling
3 About 1/2 cup blackberry jelly

Equipment: a food processor with a sharp blade or an electric coffee/spice grinder; a large pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain tip or a qt-size sealable bag with a corner snipped off; an offset spatula

Make macaron batter:
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Grind almond flour or almonds with confectioners sugar in food processor until powdery, 30 seconds for almond flour, about 2 minutes for almonds. (If using grinder, grind in small batches.) Sift through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl (if not fine enough for almost all of nuts to go through sieve, regrind). Sift again into a large bowl.
Stir together espresso powder and vanilla in a cup until powder has dissolved.
Beat egg whites with salt in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in granulated sugar, a little at a time. Increase speed to high and beat until meringue holds stiff, glossy peaks, about 1 minute. Add espresso mixture and mix at low speed until incorporated. Fold meringue into almond mixture with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. (Meringue will deflate and batter will be loose.)

Pipe and bake macarons:
Put small dabs of batter under corners of parchment to secure to baking sheets.
Spoon half of batter into pastry bag. Holding bag vertically just above baking sheet, pipe 1 1/2-inch-wide mounds of batter about 1 inch apart, stopping pressure and flicking tip sideways to avoid peaks (tamp down any peaks with a wet finger). Refill pastry bag and repeat. Let macarons stand, uncovered, at room temperature until a light crust forms, 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
Bake macarons, switching position of sheets halfway through, until crisp and interior does not give easily when a macaron is gently pressed, 22 to 28 minutes total. Cool completely on baking sheets (for residual heat to harden bottoms) on racks, about 30 minutes. Loosen macarons from parchment with offset spatula (they will be fragile).

Assemble cookies:
Sandwich flat sides of macarons together with a thin layer of jelly.
Layer macarons between sheets of parchment in an airtight container and let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours to soften before eating.

Cooks’ note: Filled macarons can be kept in an airtight container wrapped in plastic wrap, chilled 2 days or frozen 1 month. Bring to room temperature in wrapped container (to avoid condensation), about 1 hour if chilled or 2 hours if frozen.

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Anonymous said...

YEAH!! Beautifully done! Take that, macarons! :)