Monday, February 17, 2014

Macaron Monday: Cashew French Macarons with Fig Butter Filling

Throughout the five years I lived in LA in the 90's I was a Trader Joe's addict. By far, TJ's was the most fun food shopping experience. Their tasty goods, unique products and organic selection kept me coming back for more and the prices were always great. It's one of the stores I missed most during the 10 years I lived in Germany.

Since then, several Trader Joe's locations have opened in the NYC area. The checkout lines are always horrendous, snaking though the aisles making it almost impossible to shop let alone get a cart through.  They do their best to get everyone checked out quickly but compared to the Stores in LA, where you could stage a freaking Broadway musical in the aisles, that's how big they were, NYC stores need much bigger spaces. Every time we have weather terror here on the East Coast, pictures abound in the media of lines of people extending out the front door and down the street of Trader Joe's. 

Stupid weather terror aside, if I'm going be snowbound or hunkered down for a hurricane, there's nowhere else I prefer to get provisions from.  Just saying.

These macs are a marriage of two of my favorite Trader Joe's products, cashew meal, a product I couldn't wait to try making French Macarons with and this lovely fig butter I bought for the holidays but barely used.

I was a little apprehensive about making macs with anything other than almond flour but the cashew flour worked so well I couldn't believe it. This batch I left plain just to see if they worked. They did and paired with the fig jam, the taste was out of this world.

Of course you can use any flavored jam, marmalade or butter you like to fill these babies. So many flavors would work well with these delicious plain cashew shells from orange marmalade to raspberry. The taste is slightly different from the almond version, more sweet and buttery.

I've made a few more cashew French macaron batches since these, adding different flavors to the shells. Those all will be posted in time. It's a whole new mac world for me. Yippee.

Cashew French Macarons with
Fig Butter 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 sugar
  • 200 grams of powdered sugar
  • 110 Grams of cashew flour
  • Pinch of cream of tarter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.
  • Sift the powdered sugar and cashew 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 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/cashew 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 and then fill with fig butter.

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