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Maple Macarons

For the first day of December, I really wanted to do something special, so today my friend Dylan, a student at The Culinary Institute of America, has provided us with a little touch of Vermont magic- maple macarons! Not only was he kind enough to walk us through this delightful treat, but he also took the time to sit down with us and tell us a little bit about himself and the inspiration that started his love of baking! We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

img_0493How did you get into creating your beautiful desserts?

Baking has always been a part of my life in one form or another. I dabbled a little as a child, everyone had to take Home Economics and I remembered enjoying it. We made dutch babies, harvest bread and pizza, which was my absolute favorite – anything that I can put a ton of cheese on is always up my alley. However, it never really became anything outside of that class, which was fine at the time. I would say that it didn’t really take hold until adulthood when I had no choice but to cook for myself. It started off as an escape, a way for me to decompress after a long day of working in retail. I’d try to make new things every now and again but I pretty much made the staples that I grew up with: shepard’s pie, barbeque chicken etc. Then my best friend got me hooked on Pinterest and after that I was addicted. I started throwing parties where I would find a brand new recipe for an appetizer, entrée and dessert and would make them all for my friends. I would spend the day cooking and preparing, I always loved the way an oven warmed a home, and my friends would come and we would eat and laugh. Everyone always had seconds and they always took leftovers.img_1165

As I progressed through these dinners I found myself more and more intrigued in the ‘why’ behind cooking. If I mix butter and sugar together why does the sugar dissolve? I wanted answers. Baking became this wonderfully fulfilling hobby, I was able to bring people together and show them how much they mean to me (nothing says ‘I love you’ like a homemade three course meal, am I right?) but I also got to be a mad scientist and an adventurer; plus, getting to make a mess as an adult is way more fun and as my grandmother always says, “Those who cook do not have to clean.”

I eventually wanted more and then it just dawned on me: if this is something I love so much, why don’t I do it for a living? And so here I am, one year through culinary school, flour-covered, physically exhausted most of the time but the happiest I have ever been.

 

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What is your favorite dish to make?

Ah, this question is the hardest question for me to answer. Off the cuff I would say pain au chocolat. They are definitely a labor but they are so worth it in the end. The chocolate….the savory yet sweet flavor….the butter. Too good.

Also, chocolate chip cookies. No matter how much I learn, nothing beats a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.

 

 

Why maple macarons?

Well, I chose maple because I’m from Vermont and maple syrup runs through my veins. My grandparents make their own and it’s the absolute best even though people think I’m biased.

I decided to do macarons because it covers a wide variety of baking skills and techniques. Making macarons requires one to make a meringue which teaches one how to work with egg whites, introduces the concept of cooking sugar, plus it is delicious on virtually anything. In some cases, dare I say, I even prefer it over whipped cream. Then making buttercream expands on that concept. Pastry cream is an incredibly versatile item. One can use it to fill a pie: chocolate cream, coconut cream, I even made a pina colada pie once with a pineapple and coconut milk pastry cream once, delicious. One could use it in trifle or as a homemade pudding or a filling for eclairs – it’s all in the flavoring. Ingredient versatility for a home baker, and even a chef, is one of the most useful tools to have.

What’s your end goal after school?

This is something I’m still figuring out. I am very lucky to be living in a time where the culinary world has grown and still is growing at an immense rate. I’m using school as a way to decipher this part – I’ll let you know when I get there.

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If you’re anything like me, you probably obsessively peruse Instagram for videos and photos that have anything to do with food. Lucky for us, Dylan’s page is chock-full of gorgeous food porn! Give him a follow at  @dylliebean93!

 

 

Maple Pastry Cream

Ingredient                     Amount

Milk                             1 1/3 C

Sugar, granulated              1/2 C

Eggs                                2 ea.

Cornstarch                         ¼ C

Salt                                  Pinch

Butter                                  3 T

Maple Syrup                         4 T

Method

Put 90% of milk with the salt, and 50% of the sugar sprinkled over the top.

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In a bowl, whisk together cornstarch and milk until smooth.

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Add eggs and remaining sugar to cornstarch and milk until smooth.

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Bring milk to a full boil and then temper into mixture.

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Quickly pour back into pan.

Bring back to a full boil, whisking constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken, once this happens remove from heat and whisk vigorously to remove any lumps. Return to heat and cook for one minute.

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Remove from heat, taste to make sure starch has been cooked out. If it still tastes starchy, cook more, 30 seconds at a time, and re-taste. Do this until starch is completely cooked out.

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Whisk in butter and maple syrup until fully incorporated.

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Pour onto a piece of plastic wrap.

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Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap to avoid a skin from forming.

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Store at room temperature until cool and then place into the refrigerator.

 

Macarons

 

Ingredient                                               Amount

Almond Flour                                      1 2/3   C

Sugar, Confectionary                           1 1/2   C

     Egg Whites                                                  2   ea.

Sugar, Granulated                                  3/4   C

   Egg Whites                                                  2   ea.

 

Method

Mix almond flour, confectionary sugar, and egg whites in a Kitchenaid bowl until it forms a thick paste. Be sure to sift almond flour and confectionary sugar before measuring them.

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Add the desired color. Be sure to make it dark because it will be lightened when the meringue is folded in. Remove bowl and paddle from mixer and press plastic wrap onto the surface of the mixture and the paddle to avoid forming a skin.

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Put egg whites into Kitchenaid bowl with a whip attachment. Remember that the bowl and whip attachment be clean. If there is any dirt or anything in the bowl, the egg whites will not whip.

Pour sugar into the bottom of a small saucepan and add water over the sugar until just covered. If you add a little extra, that is fine. It will just take longer to cook the sugar.

Cook sugar over medium-high heat until it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful not to stir the sugar or move the pot at all, this will agitate and cause the sugar to recrystallize. Once the thermometer reaches the correct temperature, immediately turn mixer on high.

When sugar reaches 245 degrees Fahrenheit, take saucepan off stove, turn mixer down to medium speed, rest saucepan on the lip of the mixing bowl and pour a slow, steady stream of the cooked sugar into egg whites.

Once the meringue reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the bowl and the whip from the mixer. Put the paddle and the colored mixture back onto the mixer. Place about 1/3 of the meringue into the mixture and mix until lightened.

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Once combined, take the bowl off of the mixer and pour into a large metal bowl. Add the remaining 2/3 of the meringue and fold by hand until combined.

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Scoop some of the mixture into a piping bag with a small tip to allow for more control. Any remaining mixture in the bowl, press plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

On a sheet tray lined with parchment paper, begin piping the shells. It is important to make them as identical as possible. I find this to be the easiest by counting, once I have the size that I want, I try and replicate it by counting to the same number. Pipe shells until you have used up all of the mixture.

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Once piped let the macarons rest for 35 minutes to allow a skin to form over the top. Meanwhile preheat oven to 285 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Bake for 14 – 15 minutes, the tops should be firm but the color should not change. Leave them on the tray until completely cooled.

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Once cooled, removed macaron shells and match them up so the cookies line up together. Place pastry cream into a Kitchenaid bowl with the paddle attachment and paddle for about 30-45 seconds until it softens. Fill a pastry bag with a small tip with buttercream and a pastry bag with a slightly larger tip with pastry cream.

Take the buttercream and slowly pipe a tube around the perimeter of the one of the cookies. Then, take the pastry cream and fill the middle until it is level with the buttercream. Gently place the top onto the cookie and push down slightly.

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Coffee Buttercream

  Ingredient                                               Amount

      Egg Whites                                                  2   ea.

 Sugar, granulated                                   2/3   C

Butter, cubed, room temperature           3/4   C

        Coffee Extract                                           To   Taste

Method

Put egg whites into Kitchenaide bowl with a whip attachment. Cube butter and set aside. It is important that the bowl and whip attachment be clean. If there is any dirt or anything in the bowl, the egg whites will not whip.

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Pour sugar into the bottom of a small saucepan and add water over the sugar until just covered. If you add a little extra, that is fine. It will just take longer to cook the sugar.

Cook sugar over medium-high heat until it reaches 235 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful not to stir the sugar or move the pot at all, this will agitate and cause the sugar to recrystallize. Once the thermometer reaches the correct temperature, immediately turn mixer on high.

When sugar reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit, take saucepan off stove, turn mixer down to medium speed, rest saucepan on the lip of the mixing bowl and pour a slow, steady stream of the cooked sugar into egg whites.

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Turn mixer back up to high speed. Whip on high speed until bowl is cool to the touch. You have now created an Italian Meringue!
Once the meringue is cool, add the butter one piece at a time. Continue to whip on high.
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Mixture will turn yellow because of the butter, continue to mix on high until frosting turns white, approximately 2-5 minutes. Sometimes, the buttercream will first look kind of lumpy like in the left picture below – don’t panic! That just means that your butter was a little too cold when you added it in. Just keep mixing and it will eventually become smooth and delicious.
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Add the coffee flavoring to taste. Remember, the point of a flavoring is to taste it, so don’t be shy!

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