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Secret Recipe: Bouchon Bakery's Espresso Macarons

Photo courtesy of TKRG

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To celebrate national macaron day—it’s tomorrow, so best cancel all other plans—we’re shoveling the sandwiched treat hand over fist until we explode. You could do the same, or take the more responsible route and whip up this exquisite creation by the macaron masters at Bouchon Bakery. They recommend baking in a convection oven: the tops of macarons baked in a standard oven often develop small speckles, which can affect the texture (though not the flavor, so fear not).

Espresso Macarons

Makes 12-15

Almond Paste

2 ½ cups almond flour

2 cups + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

3 each egg whites

1 tablespoon coffee paste / coffee extract

2 teaspoons + ¼ cup (for sifting later) espresso grounds

Meringue

3 ½ each egg whites

1 ½ cups sugar

1/3 cup water

Espresso Buttercream

1/8 cup + 1 ½ teaspoon egg whites

3/8 cup and 1 tablespoon + 1 1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 ½ tablespoon + ½ teaspoon water

4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature

1 tablespoon coffee paste / coffee extract

Equipment Needed:

Thermapen of other candy thermometer

pastry bag with a ½-inch plain tip

pastry bag with a 3/8-inch plain tip.

For the Almond Paste:

1. Combine almond flour and powdered sugar in a bowl.
2. Make a well in the center and add the raw egg white. Mix well.
3. Add the coffee paste/extract and espresso grounds.

For the Meringue:

1. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Combine the sugar and the water in a small pan and cook over medium-high heat.
3. Once the sugar reaches 230 degrees, start whipping the egg whites with a pinch of sugar.
4. When the sugar syrup is 248 degrees, pour gently over the whipped egg whites. Whip for an additional 5 minutes.

For the Espresso Buttercream:

1. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
2. Place the 3/8 cup sugar in a small saucepan, add the water, and stir to moisten the sugar.
3. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and simmer until the syrup reaches 230 degrees.
4. Letting the syrup continue to cook, turn the mixer to medium speed, gradually pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon + 1 1/8 teaspoon sugar into the egg whites, and whip until the whites are beginning to form very loose peaks. If the whites are ready before the syrup reaches 248 degrees, turn the mixer to the lowest setting just to keep moving.
5. When the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pan from the heat.
6. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup to the whites, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk.
7. Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature and the whites hold stiff peaks. (If the mixture is warm, it will melt the butter.)
8. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, a few pieces at a time. If at any point the mixture looks broken, increase the speed and beat to re-emulsify it, then reduce the speed and continue adding the butter.
9. Add coffee paste/extract to the mixture. Check the consistency: if the buttercream is too loose to hold its shape, it should be refrigerated for up to a few hours to harden, the beaten again to return it to the proper consistency.
10. The buttercream can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month; defrost frozen buttercream in the refrigerator overnight before using. Thirty minutes before using the buttercream, place it in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and allow to soften. Then mix on low speed to return the buttercream to the proper consistency for piping or spreading.

For the Macarons:

1. Preheat oven (preferably a convection oven) to 350 degrees.
2. Fold enough of the meringue into the the almond paste so that the batter gently settles without spreading too much.
3. Using a pastry bag, pipe macarons onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prior to piping, use a pencil to trace the size you want on the opposite side of the parchment paper for guidance and consistency, if desired.
4. Gently tap the bottom of the baking sheet to smooth the top of the macarons.
5. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of espresso grounds on top of the macarons using a small sifter or tea strainer.
6. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes.
7. After cooling completely, sandwich two macarons with Espresso Buttercream.