Chocolate Macarons with Coffee Buttercream

I now understand the term macaron madness.  I cannot believe how much fun I am having making these things!  Honestly, I don’t need this many macarons in the house and I wish all of you could show up just to take some away.  They are just too hard to resist eating.

For this batch of macarons, I wanted to come up with a filling that would require egg yolks.  I was left with three for every batch of macarons and would rather not waste them.  So, I took some inspiration from my favorite cooking show,  Masterchef Australia (link at the bottom). This version of buttercream uses egg yolks – yay no waste! – and it’s very smooth which complements the cocoa shells wonderfully.  I decided to add half of the espresso powder in the buttercream near the end give an almost crunchy texture to the cream with tiny bursts of coffee flavor to wash away the sweetness of the macaron. I don’t think it could have turned out any better.

Macarons are the bane and bliss of many food bloggers.  I have been semi-successful before but that was nearly a year ago.  I wanted to make them again as an alternative to my birthday cake. The problem was, my old recipe wasn’t working for me.  I wasn’t getting any pied or feet, I blame the new oven I got in the spring.   I gave up for a while until I read Tartelettes ebook, Demystifying Macarons.  When you want to make macarons, Tartelette is a pretty reliable go-to.  I had multiple success now with her recipe and technique by mixing it with some other little tips and tricks that worked for me.

Remember when you were told as a kid, “practice makes perfect”?  Well, Parisian macarons fall along those lines.  I cannot explain well enough in words what the mixture should be like.  Where to be gentle, where to just stir with some vigor, and the exact texture.  I will tell you I have found that adding cocoa powder produces a chewier cookie, and takes less folds than the basic macaron recipe does.  So, it’s just working with the basic recipe enough times to gain a feel for it, to know when you are at the right constancy.  If you decide to go down this road of trial and error, I promise to send you happy pastry thoughts.

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Vanilla Cupcakes

New oven has it’s trial and errors.  However not as much as the Souffle cups I bought just days before my previous oven went kaput.  They are just what I wanted, something to give the cupcakes a different look, and offer more cake to enjoy.  Also, at under $5 for 250 it was just economically smart!   You need to clip the rim with a pair of scissors just before frosting so getting to the cupcake is easier, originally this was my husbands biggest complaint then I figured out to cut the edge.  Also, I found it easier to spray lightly with baking spray before adding in the batter.  Filling just over 1/2  not quite 2/3 full gave a nice round puffy top that you would get with typical cupcake liners.

Final trial, was some sites say you can bake on a cookie sheet, this was the main appeal to me in getting these cooking more at once, FALSE!   I tried almost 3 batches before almost giving up.  They were pouring over the edge, the center would be raw.  I threw away so many I was just a pouty mess!   I woke up this morning sitting down with a cup of coffee about to watch some movies when I had what I call a ‘House’ moment.  I was putting the blanket over my legs and I got it!   The cups on the cookie sheet were being exposed to direct heat from all directions, the outsides exposed to the heat with out anything to slow down the heat from hitting the cupcakes, which was causing the outsides to cook and rise too fast vs the centers which would remain almost raw.   I felt so dumb once i realized it.   So I got up and made another batch.  Just this time putting the cups in the cupcake tin like other cupcake liners.  Which then resulted in exactly what I was looking for!   With the other issues from these souffle cups figured out, I feel like great about these and happy I made the choice to switch to these cups!

Trying these out with the new oven I went with my absolute basic cupcake, Vanilla.   I am not a huge fan of these cupcakes because I am just not that big of a vanilla person.  Don’t get me wrong, they are amazing, but if they were something more along the lines of my now famous ‘Irish Car-bomb Cupcakes” I would be inhaling them as I write this post!  The cake is light, fluffy, sweet, and has great vanilla flavor.   I paired it with a basic vanilla Swiss Meringue  Butter-cream.

Honestly, I was not, actually still kinda am not, a huge fan of cake.  I realized it was because of the frosting.  I didn’t like cake frosting.  They either taste of butter, or sugar, or have that sandy gritty taste, or all three!  I tried this after making a basic butter-cream and realizing it was exactly what I didn’t like about frosting.   I will never go back.  This is light, and sweet, and smooth, and melts in your mouth amazing.    When I was little my uncle Jaime was very adamant about his birthday cakes, they had to have whipped frosting.   I remember a few times going with my aunt Lucy to pick up the cakes and they were good.  I mean I recall once we drove to Bellingham, WA which was around a 30 min drive north just to pick up his cake.   If I was to try and recreate that frosting of happiness this would be it.  I cannot say enough how wonderful this frosting makes the cake.  Ok, enough of me rambling!  You absolutely must try these, great go to recipes for cupcakes.

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup  buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.  Set pan aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides and beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest, if using.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan 5 minutes.  Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Butter-cream

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 5large egg whites
  • 2 cups (4 sticks or 1 pounds) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Caster Sugar or Powdered Sugar (to sweeten if desired)

Place egg whites in the heat-proof bowl, add pinch of salt and whisk to break up the whites, add in sugar and whisk till combined. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.

Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.

Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the butter-cream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined. Taste, add extra sugar 1 TBSP at a time until desired sweetness is achieved.  I end up adding 1 tbsp of caster sugar.

Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using butter-cream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Adapted: Cupcakes/Joy of Baking | Martha Stewart/Swiss Meringue Buttercream