When visiting Germany, one of the items I always stock up on to bring back to the States are these little packets of flavored sugar. The vanilla sugar kind is the easiest one to find in the markets but occasionally I find different varieties like caramel sugar or this rum vanilla variety.
When making macarons, you add a small amount of fine granulated sugar to the meringue batter. Using flavored sugar is a great way to get flavor into the shells without compromising the batter with a liquid extract. It's just too easy to ruin it.
I replaced the sugar in the recipe with the flavored fine sugar in these packets and it worked like magic. I realize not everyone has access to this ingredient but it gave me the idea to buy a bag on finely granulated sugar and divide it up to experiment with flavoring it. It's now on the list. Probably the easiest homemade version is to put vanilla bean husks into a jar, add sugar and let it sit for some time to impart the flavor.
Anyway, back to these. Again, I wasn't sure what the mixture in the packets would do to the batter but the shells grew feet and smelled and tasted divine. Phew! I would have hated to waste those sugar packets I schlepped from another continent.
For the filling, I guiltily bypassed all the leftover buttercream threatening to take over the freezer and I opted to pop open this lovely jar of locally made blueberry preserves brought by a houseguest. The flavors worked together beautifully and were a big hit with everyone who sampled them.
Rum Vanilla French Macarons with
Blueberry Preserves Filling
Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements.
- 90 grams of egg whites - aged at least 2 days. Let them sit out on the counter uncovered.
- 25-50 grams of fine granulated rum vanilla flavored sugar
- 200 grams of powdered sugar
- 110 Grams of almond flour*
- Pinch of cream of tarter
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup blueberry preserves
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.
- Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together or pulse them together briefly in a food processor. Make sure there are no large pieces.
- Whip the egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly add the rum vanilla sugar. Continue whipping until you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing slides out. Add the pinches of salt and cream of tartar.
- Add the powdered sugar/almond mixture to the egg white mixture and fold, using quick strokes at first then slow down. The batter should have a "flowing like lava" consistency. Make a peak of the batter and if it does not disappear after 5-7 seconds, keep folding. If it's running all over the place, you will probably have to start over. Place a pastry bag fitted with a round shaped tip in a tall water and and fold the edges down around the glass.
- Fill the pastry bag with the macaron batter, twist the open top to secure and pipe circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a Silpat.
- Let the macarons dry for about a half hour or until they harden.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place the macarons on the middle rack in the oven. I keep the oven door propped open with a dish towel or wooden spoon.
- I place another empty baking sheet on top to prevent the shells from becoming toasted and discolored.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- When checking them after 10 minutes or so, if the ones in the back of the sheet seem to be cooking faster that the ones in front, flip the tray around.
- To test to see if they are done, peel the baking paper or silpat back, if the shell comes off easily, they are done.
- If you do have a problem with the shells sticking to the surface when removed from the oven, lift up the baking paper and pour a bit of water underneath. this will steam them off the paper.
- Transfer to a baking rack and let cool completely before matching up the shells into pairs according to size.
- Load the blueberry preserves into a pastry bag and fill the shells