week 17. vanilla bean macs x orange vanilla buttercream (creamsicle)

using my base recipe, I subbed out cocoa powder for the equivalent amount of almond powder, and then flavored with the pulp of 1 vanilla bean.

I was nervous to mix and match colors because I wasn't quite sure how to do it without making 2 separate batches. it turns out that it really wasn't that hard! instructions on how to do this are included below.

this was definitely the prettiest week, but my least favorite flavor. they didn't taste bad,  I just prefer my desserts to be free of oranges. although, everyone and their mother said it was their favorite, so it just goes to show that everyone's palates are different.

ingredients | shells

mixture a:                  
almond flour                                                 37g
vanilla bean pulp                                       from 1 bean
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.

from “mixture a,” sift together the almond powder, vanilla pulp, 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 vanilla, almond, 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 everything is combined, but not yet glossy and runny.

scoop half of the batter into a separate bowl and add your gel food coloring to that mixture.

continue to fold each bowl (the one with and the one without food coloring) until the mixtures become 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 each bowl of batter into its own pastry bag, and cut holes at the tips. then place both of these bags inside of a 3rd pastry bag, fitted with about a 10mm piping tip.

pipe quarter sized bulbs onto parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a sheet pan (I prefer silicone mats), swirling the tip of the pastry bag a bit as you pipe to create the desired effect.

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)

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

let cool completely before filling.

ingredients | orange vanilla buttercream

1% milk                                                                1/4 cup
heavy cream                                                 1/4 cup
flour                                                                     3 tbsp

unsalted butter                                          1/2 cup
vanilla extract                                              2 tsp
orange extract                                            1/2 tsp
orange juice                                                  1 tsp
granulated sugar                                       1/2 cup

method | orange vanilla buttercream

bring butter to room temperature.

using a small sauce pan, heat the milk, cream, 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 whisk 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, orange extract, orange juice, and vanilla 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.

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.