week 1. chocolate macs x chocolate hazelnut buttercream

I learned the recipe for these shells at the french pastry school in chicago, and it turns out great every time. if you don’t already have a kitchen scale, I super recommend getting one; they’re not very expensive and they make recipes consistent and accurate, especially for a finicky cookie like a macaron. make sure you get one that allows you to tare the weight of the bowl holding the ingredients so that it doesn’t count that bowl in your measurement. having said that, the buttercream recipe I use (from kitchentreaty.com) is in cups, teaspoons, etc.

ingredients | shells

mixture a:
cocoa powder                                             37g
almond TPT*                                                300g
powdered sugar                                        38g

egg whites                                                      73g          

mixture b:
egg whites                                                      73g
salt                                                                       0.5g
water                                                                  50g
sugar                                                                  188g
light corn syrup                                          10g

* TPT means equal parts powdered sugar and another ingredient, in this case it’s almond flour, and you will use 150g of each to equal the 300g.

method | shells

bring all ingredients to room temperature.

from “mixture a,” sift together the cocoa powder, almond TPT, and powdered sugar into a large bowl and set aside. (it’s important to sift to make sure everything is very fine).

from “mixture b” whisk the egg whites and salt in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment set to 4 and leave it there while you make a syrup.

make a syrup from “mixture b.” first add the water, then the sugar, then the corn syrup into a small saucepan. pour the sugar in very slowly so that it all gets incorporated into the water, being very careful not to get any on the sides of the saucepan or your syrup can crystalize. do not stir!! stirring can also cause crystallization. just let it do its thing.

heat this syrup on medium until it boils and reaches 248°F. really, don’t stir it!

tip: you can take the chill off the eggs if you hold the bowl over the heating saucepan for a few seconds while swirling it around or stirring it.

turn up the standing mixer to 8 to create soft peaks while the syrup is still heating up to the right temperature.

to create the meringue, slowly pour the hot syrup along the side of the bowl into the mixing egg whites and let it mix until it’s stiff, but still shiny.

take the egg whites from “mixture a,” plus a spatula full of the meringue and mix it into the sifted almond, cocoa, powdered sugar mixture that you made earlier. fold this together with a spatula until you form a thick paste.

fold the rest of the meringue into that paste until it becomes glossy and slightly runny. (you’ll know when it’s done when the batter slowly falls off your spatula like a thick ribbon and settles into itself in the bowl after a few seconds. you don’t want it to be any runnier than that because you don’t want the mixture to spread once it’s piped).

scoop batter into a pastry bag fitted with about a 10mm piping tip, and pipe quarter sized bulbs onto parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a sheet pan.

tip: if a little nub from where you released the piping bag doesn’t settle into itself, you can use a small paintbrush to tap it down.

tap the bottom of the pan a couple times to prevent any air bubbles while baking.

bake on your oven’s convection setting at 280° for 15 minutes. for the first 5 minutes with the oven door closed, and the remaining 10 minutes with a wooden spoon propping the oven door open a bit.

let cool completely before filling.

ingredients | chocolate hazelnut buttercream

unsalted butter (room temp)         1 cup (2 sticks)
powdered sugar                                         2 cups
nutella (or similar product)               2/3 cup
pure vanilla extract                                  1 tsp
salt                                                                        a pinch
heavy whipping cream                          2 tbsp

method | chocolate hazelnut buttercream

place butter and powdered sugar in standing mixer with paddle attachment. mix on 2 until well incorporated.

add nutella and mix on 6 for two minutes.

scrape down sides with a spatula and mix on 6 again for another 15 seconds or so until thoroughly mixed together.

add the vanilla and salt, then whip on 8 for 30 seconds.

add whipping cream and turn back to 8 for one minute. the color should lighten a bit once
it’s done.

scoop into pastry bag and fill the center of your macarons. pipe a blob onto the flat side of a shell, large enough so that when you twist another shell on top of it, the filling reaches and shows at the edges. (or fill it however you want. maybe do it with a star tip to make it look a little fancier, or frost the middle with a spatula instead of a pastry bag for more of a rustic look).

eat all of them. or practice self control and place in an air tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

tip: the sizes of all of your shells will tend to be slightly different, so make sure you buddy up your shells to similarly sized partners so that the entire cookie is a consistent size.