vanilla bean macarons (macaron painting)

Vanilla Bean French Macarons 

Many macaron enthusiasts swear that you absolutely must measure ingredients by weight rather than volume. Although macarons can be temperamental, I have never had a problem measuring by volume, as this recipe is written. 

makes about 35 macarons

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup superfine sugar
  1. Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Cut vanilla bean open lengthwise and scrape seeds out with a knife. Add seeds to bowl. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.

  3. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.

  4. Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.)

  5. Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon filling. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Chocolate Ganache Filling

1/2 cup heavy cream 3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (preferably 70 percent cacao) 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened
Bring cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add butter, then whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool, stirring often. Use immediately.
 Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

To hand-paint macarons
Gel food color
Wet paintbrush and dip in a very small amount of food color. Practice your design on paper first, then on macarons. To make my peony inspired design, make arcs starting on the outer edge of macarons. Make a second and third, if necessary, row of arcs. Use a smaller brush with another color for the center of flowers.