March 14, 2012|
These nut-flavored meringue cookies are best made with almond flour (sold in natural foods stores and specialty stores). If you can’t find almond flour substitute 15 ounces of slivered almonds, processed to a fine flour in a food processor. Be sure to grease the parchment paper or these cookies will stick. For best results, bake the cookies one sheet at a time. For the buttercream frosting, make sure that the sugar mixture is poured into the egg yolks while still hot. For fun, consider adding some color to the frosting by stirring in small drops of food coloring; this buttercream has a natural pale yellow color that might slightly affect the hue of the frosting when adding food coloring.
3¾ cups (15 ounces) almond flour (see note above)
3⅓ cups (13⅓ ounces) confectioners’ sugar
5 large egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
5 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
3 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup light corn syrup
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
1. FOR THE BUTTERCREAM: Whip the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until slightly thickened and pale yellow, 4 to 6 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, bring the sugar and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 3 minutes.
3. Without letting the hot sugar mixture cool off, turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the warm sugar syrup into the whipped egg yolks without hitting the side of the bowl or the beaters. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip the mixture until it is light and fluffy and the bowl is no longer warm, 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the vanilla and salt. Gradually add the butter, one piece at a time, until completely incorporated, about 2 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip the buttercream until smooth and silky, about 2 minutes. (If the mixture looks curdled, wrap a hot, wet towel around the bowl and continue to whip until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.)
5. FOR THE COOKIES: Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and grease the paper. Fit a pastry bag with a ½-inch plain tip.
6. Pulse half of the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together in a food processor until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl and repeat with the remaining almond flour and confectioners’ sugar.
7. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until they are foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip the whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually whip in the granulated sugar, about 1 minute. Continue to whip the whites until they are glossy and form stiff peaks, 1 to 3 minutes.
8. Gently fold one-quarter of the almond flour mixture into the whites, followed by the vanilla. Gradually fold in the remaining almond mixture until a thick, gloppy batter forms. Fill the pastry bag with the mixture.
9. Pipe the batter into 2-inch mounds on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 inch apart. Gently tap the baking sheets to level the mounds. Use the back of a spoon or your finger dipped in water to smooth the tops of the cookies. Let the macarons rest at room temperature until the tops are dry and a smooth skin has formed, 1 to 2 hours.
10. Half an hour before baking, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Carefully transfer the hot cookies from the parchment paper onto a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
11. TO FILL THE COOKIES: Before serving, spread a generous tablespoon of the buttercream over the bottom of a cookie, then make a sandwich by pressing the bottom of another cookie onto the buttercream; repeat with the remaining cookies and buttercream.