Monday, August 25, 2014

Macaron Monday: Cream Cheese & Jelly French Macarons

When I was in grade school, my Grandmother used to make us cream cheese and jelly sandwiches as an after school treat. She would cut them into small triangles and most of the time used grape jelly to pair with the cream cheese.

I have been thinking about those sandwiches as back to school time is here. Even though the rhythms my life are not any more determined by a school schedule, I always think of Fall, not January 1st, as the beginning of the year. 

I've mentioned in previous posts how fun it was to discover concentrated powder flavors. I've had fun with the flower flavors over the past months. Hello Jasmine, Peony and DaffodilOne quarter teaspoon changes the entire taste of French macaron batter without compromising the outcome of the shells. 

Now I'm on to the other flavors. My first whiff of this powdered cream cheese flavor, left me a bit dubious. It didn't have that sweet cream aroma, more like stinky cheese. However, it worked beautifully in flavoring these French macaron shells. The result was pure cream cheese flavor.

Paired with plain old Concord grape jelly as a filling, the taste brought me way back to my grade school years. Nostalgic and delicious. 

Cream Cheese & Jelly French Macarons

For the Cream Cheese macaron shells:

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 
  • 1/4 teaspoon  cream cheese flavor powder
  • 110 Grams of almond flour*
  • Pinch of cream of tarter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup Concord grape jelly
*You can buy almond flour that has been ground with or without the skin. I use the later (blanched). The former looks really nice if you are not coloring the shells. You can also grind your own almond flour by putting whole or sliced almonds in a food processor or blender. If you do, make sure you throw a little of the powdered sugar in to prevent the almonds from forming a paste.

  • 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 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. Add the cream cheese flavor. 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. Spread the jelly on one side and cover with the matching  macaron shell.

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