Sunday, May 5, 2013

Neapolitan Macarons with a Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Italian Meringue Recipe)

Oh, don't you love Astronaut ice cream? When I was a little girl, I loved those things. For some reason it would taste better than regular ice cream. Freeze dried ice cream, has a creamy texture yet it is dry and crunchy like a chip. I don't know how to describe it. So yummy. So sad how it's such a small portion though. The flavor I always saw at the malls was Neapolitan, so that flavor will always remind me of that. I love Neapolitan regular ice cream too. It's a combination of three flavors, so what's not to love? Something about those three colors brown, white, and pink are so appealing to me.

Macarons sort of remind me of freeze dried ice cream because it's both creamy and crunchy. I wonder if grinding up the freeze dried ice cream and putting it into the macaron would taste good. However, I made a strawberry and a chocolate batch and sandwiched them together with vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream. Did I mention that's my favorite filling?:D

Neapolitan Macarons (Italian Meringue Method) makes about 24 filled macarons, or 48 shells

Mass of Strawberry Shell:
-75 almond meal/flour (I use Trader Joe's Blanched Slivered Almonds and grind them in a food processor)
-70g powdered sugar
-5g freeze dried strawberries(I use the ones from Trader Joe's)
-25g egg whites (do not have to be aged)
-Gel food coloring (optional)
-pinch of salt

Mass of Chocolate Shell:
-75g almond meal/flour
-70g powdered sugar
-5g cocoa powder
-25g egg whites
-pinch of salt

Italian Meringue:
-120g granulated sugar
-55g egg whites (do not have to be aged)
-40g water

-Candy thermometer
-Kitchen/postal scale
-Piping bags/large round tip (These give the most perfect results if that's what you're going for)
-Good insulated baking sheets (I use Nordic Ware Baker's Half Sheet)
-Parchment paper or silpats (I prefer silpats but parchment is nice too)
-Stand mixer (recommended, but it is possible with a hand mixer, just takes longer)
-Rubber Spatula/pastry scraper

1. Process together your freeze dried strawberries, almond flour, and powdered sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Sift together into a large bowl.
2. Add the 25g egg whites and mix until it becomes a dough-like consistency, and add in your food coloring. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
3. Then, process together your cocoa powder, almond flour, and powdered sugar in the food processor again until finely ground. Sift together into another large bowl. Add the 25g egg whites and mix until it becomes a dough-like consistency. Set aside and cover with plastic wrap.
4. For the meringue, beat your 55g egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer until frothy, then add a pinch of sugar if you'd like to stabilize the egg whites. Beat until soft peaks form, then turn the mixer down to low or 'stir' so that they don't deflate. DO NOT OVERBEAT EGG WHITES AT THIS STAGE. VERY IMPORTANT...if you do, your macarons will be hollow.
5. At the same time, put the water and sugar in a small saucepan over the stove at medium-high heat and attach your candy thermometer. When the mixture gets bubbly with no spots of unboiled sugar or 240 degrees Fahrenheit on your candy thermometer, take the sugar syrup off heat and slowly pour it into the egg whites, while turning up your mixer to medium-high speed. Let it beat until the bowl of the stand mixer is body temperature, and holds a nice 'beak'. The meringue should be stiff, shiny, and smooth.
6. Weigh out 80g of egg whites in a container or bowl.
7. Then add 1/3 of the meringue that you weighed out to the mass of the strawberry shell just to lighten it up, making it easier to fold into the meringue. Fold with a rubber spatula just a bit until no white spots of meringue are left.
8. Then add the rest of the meringue and fold with a fold, press, and turn the bowl motion (I have a video on my main recipe).
9. Once the batter will fall of the spatula with a thick ribbon-like consistency, you are ready to pipe them. Pipe 1-1.5 inch diameter circles onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat.
10. Use the rest of the meringue in your bowl (or another 80g of egg whites) to fold it into the chocolate shell mass, repeating steps 7-9. Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Once you are done piping, drop the sheets a couple times on the counter to get rid of air bubbles and flatten out any peaks on your macarons.
9. Now let them rest for 15-20 minutes, or until the macarons are dry to the touch.
10. Bake for 10-13 minutes, depending on how solid you want your macarons. I recommend 12.
11. Let them cool completely before taking them off the baking sheets with an offset spatula.

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream (makes more than enough for 24 macarons, so freeze the excess for later)

-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-2 egg whites
-1 1/2-2 sticks of butter, softened
-1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans

1. Set up a water bath over medium-low heat. (a small amount of water in a pot, with a smaller bowl over the pot)
2. Add the egg whites and granulated sugar into the smaller bowl, and whisk constantly to prevent mixture from cooking.
3. Once the mixture reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit on your thermometer or if you put your fingers in the mixture and rub them together, no sugar crystals remain, take it off heat.
4. With a hand or stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they become thick and white.
5. Now add in your butter a stick at a time (if it is not softened, heat it up in microwave for 8 seconds). Beat for about 2 minutes, or until the buttercream has become a light and fluffy texture. It may look curdled while beating, but keep beating until it becomes smooth.
6. Add in your vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans, and beat until desired vanilla flavor is achieved.
7. Now sandwich similar sized chocolate and strawberry shells together and store in the fridge for at least 24 hours, so that the flavors meld and it softens up the shell a bit. Serve a room temperature for a better taste experience.

These are one of my favorite macarons as well! It just takes a bit more effort than a usual batch. However, most of the time I only make half batches because when people make orders, they don't want 2 dozen of one flavor. I think it's worth it :)

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