Vanilla Bean Macarons with Nutella Buttercream

Adapted via Joanne Chang
Serves: 10 to 12

For the Macarons:
♦ 7-3/8 oz. (1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs.) confectioners’ sugar
♦ 4-3/8 oz. (1-1/4 cups plus 2 Tbs.) almond flour
♦ 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
♦ 1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Buttercream:
♦ 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
♦ 1/3 cup Nutella
♦ 2 cups confectioners sugar
♦ 2 tsp vanilla extract
♦ 1 tbsp milk

Make the macarons: Line 3 flat baking sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners – once you’ve sized out the parchment, take a small circle (cookie cutter or spice jar lid) and trace circles – spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart – onto the back of the parchment (will act as a guide for piping the macarons). Turn the paper ink-side down, and set aside.

Sift the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour into a large bowl twice, and set aside. In a clean stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy and the wires of the beater(s) leave a trail, 1 to 2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of the granulated sugar, and continue to whip for another 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat with the remaining granulated sugar, however many times it takes. Once all of the sugar is mixed in, continue whipping the whites until they turn glossy and stiff – the whites should hold a straight peak that doesn’t curl at the tip, so whip for 4 to 8 minutes more.

With a large rubber spatula, fold in half of the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once most of it has been incorporated, fold in the remaining mixture until just combined. It is OK if the whites start to deflate – this is part of the process, so don’t let it deter you. You want a batter that has a lava-like consistency (what to avoid: batter that’s stiff and “fluffy” needs to be folded more, but over-folding will  result in a pancake batter-like consistency). It should take roughly thirty “folds” to get the ideal finish.

Using a piping bag fitted with a 1/2- to 3/4-inch round tip, pipe the batter onto the prepared sheets in rounds (using the traced circles as a guide) that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Rap the sheet against the counter several times to flatten the mounds and pop any large air bubbles. Let rest until the meringues no longer feel tacky, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.

Put 2 of the cookie sheets in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 300°F (let the third sheet sit at room temperature). Bake, rotating the sheets and swapping their positions after 8 minutes, until the meringues are very pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes total. Cool completely on the baking sheets on racks. Meanwhile, return the oven temperature to 325°F and then bake the third sheet as you did for the first two.

Remove the meringues from the parchment and pair them by size.

Make the Buttercream: combine the nutella and butter in a stand mixer, and mix until light and fluffy. Slowly add the sugar, followed by the vanilla and (if need) milk – add more or less milk to get your desired consistency.

Assembly: Using a piping bag with the same tip used to pipe the cookies, pipe 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of the filling onto half of the cookies—you want to use just enough filling that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. The cookies are best the day they’re made, but you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

To read more about these cookies and my musical pairing, click HERE.

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