For this month’s MacTweet’s Macaron Challenge we were supposed to try something new. I love trying something new. I was extra excited about this month’s challenge because a) macarons are definitely the new “cupcake”; b) I finally feel confident about making macarons; c) I had just picked up a new ingredient I was dying to use; d) I love hitting my head against the wall over, and over again for the love of the “perfect feet” or; e) all of the above. I can honestly say that out of all the flavors of macrons I have been experimenting with this recipe for Tonka Bean Passion Fruit Macarons is in the top five.
When I say the word challenge I am using it loosely here as this was the ultimate challenge for me. I had set out 3 days ahead by separating my eggs, to let them age. Saturday rolled around and after getting energized at yoga I was set to make macarons. Sia gets turned out and the fun begins! I pull out my trusty scale and weigh the whites – OMG, there is only 70g, how could these eggs do this to me?!? I clearly had no time to add another egg so I would have to make some changes. I tossed the whites into the bowl and start whipping them. Next came the time to measure the nut flour and the powdered sugar. Open cupboard, reach for a box of sugar; what, NO BOX??? Rip out everything from the cupboard … no powdered sugar. What to do? No time to run to the market. Neighbors are not home. Okay, do not panic, you can make powdered sugar. That’s right, just whip up some powdered sugar. Which, is exactly what I did, I ground regular sugar in the coffee grinder until powdered. Now all was on track. I keep the sugar and flour measurements the same despite the lack of 30g of egg white. I figured by the time I sifted the flour and sugar together, the fragments I was throwing out would give me a nice measurement for the batter. I was right, the batter came out perfect! The batter was finished and cut little circles were piped and drying, everything had worked out and all was on the path of sweet sweet success! I always love slipping the macarons into the oven for their first baking time, then opening the oven door and seeing “feet”. These had little feet, they looked dainty. Unfortunately, they did slip a little while cooling but still looked good.
Flavors? This is where the fun really begins. When I was back east I found this fantastic spice store (actually two of them & more about that later) and I picked up some Tonka beans. I really had no idea what to do with them and the only research I found was this: The Tonka Bean is the seed of Dipteryx odorata, a legume tree of the Fabaceae family. The plant has its origin in Northern South America. Today, the main producers of the seeds are Venezuela and Nigeria. The seed is black and wrinkled in appearance but the interior is smooth and slightly brown. Its scent reminds me of vanilla and almonds, almost tobacco-like, like the pipe, my grandfather used to smoke. The Tonka bean if featured in French cuisines, particularly desserts and stews. I decided to zest 1/2 of a Tonka bean into my nut flours to give it that warm vanilla flavoring.
The filling I went with was an Italian Passion Fruit Buttercream. I have never made Italian buttercream and have always wanted too. As well, I have been searching for the perfect passion fruit macaron in the Bay Area and have not found any – they all have this jellied filling that is really not appealing. So, I took a classic Italian Buttercream and changed it around by adding passion fruit puree.
The result will let me say this, I was going to give a little box of macarons to three people, Allison, Darya, and Charles (our doorman) when I saw them on Sunday. I got ready to box them up, opened the fridge and noticed that over half of them were – GONE! A certain someone said they were the best yet! The warmly flavored Tonka Bean macaron shell with a creamy tart passionfruit filling was perfect if I say so myself!
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Tonka Bean Passion Fruit Macarons
*be sure to keep filled macarons in the fridge, take out about 15 minutes before serving
8 ounces whole raw almonds
8 ounces whole hazelnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
70grams egg whites – normally use 100grams
25 grams sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon creme of tarter
200 grams powdered sugar
125 grams mixed nut flour
pinch of salt
Prepare the nut flour by grinding the nuts with 1 cup of powdered sugar, in a food processor until the consistency of flour. You will need to pulse the food processor and run it, then pulse and then run. *I did toast my nuts beforehand and let cool completely before grinding.
Separate the egg whites and let them sit at room temperature for 24 hours before starting to make the macarons.
Preheat oven to 300. Whip the egg whites and creme of tartar until they are foamy. Sprinkle in the sugar while still mixing. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Sift the powdered sugar, salt, nut flour, and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add to the meringue and fold until a shiny mass comes together. ill a pastry bag with a number 806 tip. Pipe the macarons onto parchment paper. Let the macarons dry at room temperature for 30 minutes (Aran suggests 20, I lost track of time). Bake them for 8 minutes, rotate the baking pan and bake for another 8 minutes. Cool. Remover from parchment and fill with your favorite filling.
Italian Passion Fruit Buttercream
60 grams egg whites at room temperature
35 grams & 15 grams Castor Sugar
15 grams of water
15 grams passion fruit puree
1 stick unsalted butter
1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar
3 tablespoons passion fruit puree
Mix 35 grams of sugar with the water and 15 grams passion fruit puree and bring to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Stir sugar until it boils.
Using a candy thermometer, continue to boil until 121°C / 249°F.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer in a clean bowl on medium-high speed until frothy. Add in the cream of tartar, and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar and continue to beat until stiff, and glossy peaks form.
When the sugar reaches 121°C / 249°F, remove it from heat.
Reduce the mixer to medium-low and slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl.
Be careful not to splash the hot syrup or your buttercream may form small sugar crystals in it.
Return the mixer to medium-high, and continue beating until the mixture is fully cooled. About 15 minutes.
Reduce mixer speed to medium and gradually add small amounts of the butter, but only as much as it can be absorbed into the mixture before adding the next amount.
Continue to beat until the buttercream is smooth. About 15 minutes.
As the buttercream solidifies, add in the 3 tablespoons of passion fruit puree and beat into the mixture for an additional minute.