My first trip to Kalustyan's was a doosey. Embarrassed to admit I have been back living in NY for three years and never ventured uptown for the sole purpose to visiting this Aladdin's cave of gourmet treasures.
Also embarassed to admit I only wandered in only because I had breakfast with a friend nearby, decided to walk home and spotted the place on my way downtown. Of course I immediately dashed in just to "look".
Powders for six new French macarons flavors and one large bottle of rose extract later, I emerged with a big smile on my face and vowed not to let another three years go by without returning.
When I was at the register paying, I discovered there was a whole upper level to explore at this magical food place. Exercising extreme will power, I walked out without running up the stairs. Reason enough to go back. Soon.
Anyway, this prune powder worked beautifully to flavor the macarons shells. It took some thinking to figure out what flavor to pair the prune shells with for a filling. In the end I decided to go with plain old chocolate. The shells themselves have such a unique flavor, I didn't want to overwhelm the total flavor of the French macaron with another.
Prune French Macarons with
Chocolate Buttercream Filling
For the Prune 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 extra fine white granulated sugar
- 200 grams of powdered sugar
- 110 Grams of almond flour*
- 2 tablespoons prune powder
- Pinch of cream of tarter
- Pinch of salt
- 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.
- Remove two tablespoons of the powdered sugar/almond mixture and discard (I collect these discarded tablespoons in a ziplock bag. When I have enough, I use them to make a batch or half batch of macaron shells). Replace with two tablespoons of the prune powder. Pulse or whisk until combined thoroughly.
- 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/prune powder 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 the shells 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.
- Fill with chocolate buttercream or your choice of filling.
For the Chocolate Buttercream Filling:
- 1 stick butter at room temperature
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Place the butter, 2 cups of the powdered sugar, milk and cocoa powder in a mixer and cream together.
- Add the rest of the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until combined. If the mixture is too liquid, add more powdered sugar or cocoa. If it is too thick add more milk, one teaspoon at a time.
- Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip and pipe a small amount of buttercream on a macaron shell.
- Cover with matching shell.