The more I dive into the world of macarons, the more curious I became about savory flavors. But since all macaron recipes still use sugar in the cookie shells, I wanted a sweet and savory combination that would work appeal. I do love appetizers made with walnuts, figs and goat cheese, so I decided to make a walnut shell and use fig jam and goat cheese in the middle of my macarons. The filling was a little gooey, but sticky and delicious. I used a very liquid goat cheese in my filling, maybe next time I will try a denser goat cheese. In any case, the walnut flavor in the shells really came through and was just the right blend for the fig-chèvre filling in between.
photo: EVA black matte platter
Walnut macarons with Fig and Goat Cheese filling
2/3 cup almond flour (70 grams)
1/3 cup walnut flour (30 grams)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (100 grams)
2 egg whites, aged, at room temperature (75 grams)
1/4 cup sugar (65 grams)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional, but great if you have it)
chopped walnuts to sprinkle on top
GOAT CHEESE AND FIG FILLING
goat cheese (chèvre)
1. Chop the walnuts and grind them into a flour. Walnuts are oily, so the flour is a bit pasty and harder to sift. Mix the walnut flour with the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together and then sift them through a fine-mesh sieve. Re-blend any nuts that are too coarse to filter and re-sift.
2. To age the egg whites I usually separate the yolks a couple of days in advance and let the whites sit in a jar on my counter. Whisk egg whites at a low speed for 1 minute and then add the regular sugar and cream of tartar, beat 1 more minute at low speed. I only started using cream of tartar in my recent batches, it really helps build the meringue but is not essential.
3. Beat the egg whites at high speed for 2 more minutes so they form into stiff, glossy peaks. I set a timer for this because it’s difficult to estimate the minutes. But if the batter is over-whipped, the macarons tend to have air bubbles and hollow out underneath the shells.
4. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients. Using a spatula from bottom of bowl upward, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue, then press the flat side of the spatula firmly through middle of mixture and rotate the bowl slightly. This process is called “macaronage” and reduces air bubbles in the batter. Add the second half of the dry ingredients and continue the macaronage until batter is glossy and flows like lava. Getting this right is part luck and part practice, there are countless videos online for how to achieve a proper macaronage! I think the main thing is not to over mix the batter.
5. Rest a pastry bag inside a vertical cylinder to transfer the batter into the bag, then close the
top. Cut a small hole in the bottom tip of the pastry bag. The batter should be fairly stiff, but you don’t want it to come out too quickly, I cut my hole to less than 1 cm in diameter.
6. Either onto a parchment sheet or a macaron mat, pipe batter into 1 inch round cookies. I do this in a swirl and make each cookie quite small because they rise considerably in the oven. A macaron mat helps to make the cookies perfectly round and the same size and the raised rims contain the batter from spreading out on the sheets. Some people use a template with circles underneath the parchment paper, but I love my macaron mats.
7. Drop the baking sheets firmly onto the counter 2 or 3 times to release air bubbles. Sprinkle the tops with chopped walnut bits. Then let the macaron sheets sit for 30-40 minutes to dry so that they create a slight crust on the surface.
8. Preheat oven to 160ºC.
9. Place the macarons in the oven on the middle rack and lower the heat to 160º C (320º F). Bake macarons for 16 minutes, after 8 minutes, take the tray out and face the front to the back so both ends of the tray get evenly baked. Only bake 1 sheet of macarons at a time. If your macarons are very large, bake a few minutes extra. I found that the walnut flour made my macarons puffier than usual, the same thing happened when I made pistachio and sesame macarons, so I guess the combination of nut flours has this effect.
10. Once the macarons are completely cooled, remove them from the sheets. I would recommend adding this filling right before serving, because very gooey fillings soften the cookies. So store the macarons in a closed storage tin in the refrigerator or freezer. Before serving, use a butter knife or spatula to spread the fig jam on half of the cookie shell bottoms, and goat cheese on the other half. Then sandwich each macaron with another shell on top.
Serve your macarons on a beautiful plate and enjoy with an apéritif before dinner!
photo: EVA black matte platter
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