week 13. cheetos macs x cheetos and jalapeño jam buttercream

using my base recipe, I subbed out cocoa powder for the equivalent amount of finely ground, cheetos.

these turned out AWESOME. there were two main responses people gave me when they were offered a cheetos mac: "omg these are going to be amazing," or "no thanks, that sounds too weird." I was pretty surprised by that because most people love cheetos, and sweet and savory is always a good idea. either way, the people that ate them, loved them, and i'd totally make them again.

when I was baking, I was a little nervous the oil from the cheetos was going to ruin the shells in one way or another, but they turned out perfectly. the taste was really subtle; sweet with a little hit of cheetos at the end.

ingredients | shells

mixture a:                  

finely ground cheetos                           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
orange gel food coloring                     4 drops

* 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.

use a blender (vitamix does a great job) to grind up your cheetos until they become a fine powder.

I ground up more than I knew I would need for the shells, and reserved the remaining powder to top the shells and throw in the buttercream later.

from “mixture a,” sift together the cheetos 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 crystallize. 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 whisking it (I like to whisk).

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 cheetos, almond, powdered sugar mixture that you made earlier. fold this together with a spatula until you form a thick paste.

before adding in the rest of the meringue, stir a few drops of gel food coloring into the paste if you'd like. these were starting to turn a salmon-y color, so I added a few drops of orange to direct it back to cheetos coloring.

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. (i actually tap it like 30 times because it's fun and it really does get the air bubbles out)

here is where you can sprinkle some of your reserved ground-up cheetos to decorate your shells if you'd like.

let your macs sit out for at least 10 minutes before going in the oven. this recipe uses the italian method, and I've read that you really don't have to do this unless you're using the french method. but ever since my successful, crack-less shells from week 10, I will continue to incorporate this step.

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 11 minutes with a wooden spoon propping the oven door open a bit.

let cool completely before filling.

ingredients | cheetos and jalapeño jam buttercream

1% milk                                                               1/2 cup
                                    3 tbsp
unsalted butter                                          1/2 cup
granulated sugar                                       1/2 cup
salt                                                                       1/4 tsp
jalapeño jam                                                 3 tbsp

cheetos powder                                        however much you'd like

method | cheetos and jalapeño jam buttercream

bring butter to room temperature.

using a small sauce pan, heat the milk and flour on medium, whisking continuously until it becomes a pretty thick, paste-like consistency.

throw that goopy mound of paste into the fridge on a new plate or bowl and wait for it to completely cool.

use a hand mixer or paddle attachment on a standing mixer, set on medium-high, to cream the butter and sugar for a couple minutes until light and creamy.

add in the cooled milk paste/mixture, and salt and beat on medium-high to combine for a couple minutes. scrape down the sides, and then continue to beat about 5 or so minutes until it's super fluffy and all of the sugar granules have dissolved.

add the jalapeño jam and however much of the cheetos that you'd like to use and mix on low until well-distributed.

pipe bulbs of buttercream to fill your mac sandwiches.

refrigerate these guys when you're done. they actually taste better after a day of refrigeration than they do right after baking.

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.