I’ve been baking macarons like a mad woman lately. Although I’ve experimented with many different flavours thus far, the number of fillings really is infinite. One of my favourites is definitely black sesame, because it’s just that addictive to make and eat. It’s also fun to decorate the macaron shells by sprinkling some whole black sesame seeds on top. I used a vanilla bean buttercream in the middle, and when my mom tasted it, she said it was reminiscent of ice cream. I smiled. The cold buttercream shared similarities with that of a gourmet ice cream – rich, luscious, and sophisticated. My mom, too, has fallen deeply in love with this elusive confection known as the Parsian macaron.
The recipe I provided in my Earl Grey Macarons post is great, with shells that turn out perfect. The only problem lies in the colour – the high temperature takes away from the vibrant colours and causes the top to be slightly brown. After making several adjustments, I found baking the macarons at 300F for 15 minutes to be the best. These ones turned out more brown than I would’ve liked, but this was before all the adjustments :)
Black sesame powder can be purchased at any Chinese supermarket, and the vanilla bean paste is available at Williams-Sonoma.
From I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita with slight adjustments.
Makes about 2 dozen macarons
2/3 cup (3 oz/85 g) ground almonds
1-1/2 cups (5 1/4 oz/150 g) powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tbsp (65 g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoon black sesame powder
black sesame seeds
1 Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet. Draw 1-inch (2.5 cm) circles on the paper, spacing them at least 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) apart. This pattern will be your guide for squeezing out the batter.
2 In a food processor, grind almonds, black sesame powder and powdered sugar to a fine powder. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve twice. Set aside.
3 In a stainless steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until they are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites and beat on high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and stir lightly. When the meringue is stiff, firm and has a glossy texture, it is done.
4 Add half of the sifted flour mixture from step 2. Stir it with a spatula, scooping it up from the bottom of the bowl.
5 Add the rest of the flour and mix it lightly while forming a circle.
6 Macaronnage (the term for mixing flour and meringue to make macarons): When you run out of flour, press and spread out the batter against the bowl’s sides. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. Repeat this process about 15 times. Pointer: If the macaronnage step is repeated less than 10 times, the baked macarons will lack luster. However, when it is repeated more than 20 times, oil stains may remain on the pastry’s surface after baking.
7 Macaronner (term for mixing the batter until it is firm and drips slowly when it is scooped out): When the batter becomes firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with a spatula, the mixture is done.
8 Attach a 1/4-inch (1 cm) tip to a pastry bag. Twist the bag to hold the tip tightly. This prevents the batter from leaking out.
9 Place the pastry bag, tip first, inside a deep measuring cup and pour in the batter. Clip the bag top to prevent the paste from coming out. You could also use a string or rubber band.
10 Place the sheet used in step 1 on the baking sheet and squeeze the batter onto the center of the circles. Make small circles since the batter tends to spread.
11 Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter or other flat surface. This helps the macarons hold their rounded shape and helps the pied, or little “foot,” to form. Pointer: As macarons bake, small pleatlike frills form at the bottom of each. This pleat is called a pied, or foot. Without it, the pastry cannot be called a macaron. Some bakers attribute the pied to the macaronnage, some to the oven temperature, and some to a good rap of the baking sheet on the counter before baking.
12 Sprinkle black sesame seeds on top of half of the macarons.
13 Let dry at room temperature, uncovered, for 15 minutes. A slight crust should form on top. If the batter circles do not stick to your finger when you touch them, the drying process is complete. On a dry and sunny day, the drying process takes approximately 30 minutes. On rainy days, it helps to dehumidify the room.
Baking the macarons
1 Place oven racks in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2 Stack the baking sheet holding the batter circles onto an empty baking sheet and slide both into the oven. Pointer: Using two trays, one inside the other, prevents the bottom of the macarons from overbaking, and from puffing up too much or cracking.
3 Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the trays once and switching them from top to bottom racks and vice versa, until slightly crisp and crackled on top.
4 Place baking sheets on wire racks to cool. When the macarons are completely cooled, remove them from the baking sheet. Pointer: Macarons can be stored for about one week in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Vanilla Beam Buttercream
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1. Whip butter in a stand-up mixer until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually add in the sugar at meidum-low speed, then increase speed to high and whip for 30 seconds.
4. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix until well-blended.