Espresso French Macarons with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

The word "macaron," here in southern California, seems to be met with "Oh I like those!" or "What is that??" A while ago I sampled this strangely textured meringue delicacy and decided that it just wasn't a treat into which I'd likely delve. It was crispy on its outside, soft just below its shell, and contained a creamy filling that varied from each of the ones selected. Unique yes, but it was just another cookie - until I thought a bit more. I was sipping a coffee one morning, whilst thinking of macarons, and noshing on a few spoonfuls of peanut butter. It hit me - this combination...this may actually make me like a macaron, but how could I do it? Well, here goes...

Prep Time: up to 1hr 15min
Servings: 15 Macarons

Macaron Shells
120g Confectioner's Sugar (~1c)
80g Almond Flour, from blanched almonds (~3/4c)
2 Tsp Espresso Powder
50g Superfine Sugar (~1/4c)
2 Egg Whites, room temperature

Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
2 Egg Whites, room temperature
1/3 Cup Sugar, Granulated
6 2/3 oz Butter, Unsalted, room temperature (~1 1/3 sticks)
4 Tsp Peanut Butter, Smooth

Preheat oven 375 degrees.

Confecioners Sugar, Almond Flour
Pulse confectioners sugar, almond flour, and espresso powder in a food processor at about 20 seconds  a go until well-mixed. I sifted, to separate any almond flour that clumped, and set aside.

In a warm water bath (or a double boiler, stove-top) stir sugar and egg whites together until sugar dissolves. The egg whites will take on a more gelatinous texture and when fully combined, it will lose its grittiness. Whip until meringue forms with both gloss and peaks that hold - be careful not to overmix.

Flour Mixture + Meringue
Slowly fold the flour mixture into the meringue until thoroughly mixed. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to the center until color and texture are even throughout.

Macaron Mixture in 'Piping' Bag

Using parchment paper, line a cookie sheet (I used a touch of oil to adhere to the tin) and pour mixture into a piping bag, or in my case: a plastic sandwich bag - cutting off a small corner when piping.

Espresso French Macarons, uncooked
Pipe the macaron batter into dots and allow them to naturally fall into their circular shape; Allow enough space between each macaron for the spreading (1" should be fine). Unlike frosting a cupcake, draw the peak to the cookie's side - it will naturally fold into the circular shape. Allow to set for 20 minutes before baking for the cookie to more securely hold form.

Espresso French Macarons, cooked
Reduce oven from 375 degrees to 325 degrees and bake for 5 minutes, rotate cookie sheet, bake for 5 minutes, rotate once more, and cook up to 2 minutes longer. For the second cookie sheet, repeat the same process: increase temperature to 375 degrees for a few minutes, reduce to 325 degrees, and bake as before (5:turn:5:turn:2). Allow to cool before adding filling.

Espresso French Macarons with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
The buttercream is very similar to making the meringue in this recipe: dissolve sugar into egg whites using a warm water bath. Whip into a meringue that is both glossy and has peaks that hold. Fold butter into meringue at a low setting, a few tablespoons at a time, along with peanut butter, until complete. The buttercream will be smooth and really, really hard to not eat by the spoonful! Note - this recipe makes about 1 cup of buttercream.

Use about 1 1/2 Teaspoons of filling on the bottom of one macaron and top with the bottom of another, pressing lightly until filling reaches the outer edge. Set aside for about 24 hours before eating for the taste to absorb into the bottom of the macaron shells - that is, of course, if hunger doesn't take over!!

Nutrition Info (French Espresso Macarons: 2 shells)
Calories 77, Total Fat 2.7g, Sat. Fat 0.2g, Cholest. 0mg, Sodium 9mg, Carb.12.4g, Fiber 0.6g, Sugars 11.5g, Protein 1.7g

Nutrition Info
(Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream: 1.5 tsp)
Calories 34, Total Fat 2.7g, Sat. Fat 1.6g, Cholest. 6.4mg, Sodium 6.3mg, Carb. 2.2g, Fiber 0.1g, Sugars 2.2g, Protein 0.4g