July 23, 2015
Vanilla Chai Macarons
For the macarons:
3/4 cup (170ml) aquafaba (the brine from 1-2 cans chickpeas)
1 chai tea bag plus 1 chai tea bag, contents finely ground
1/2 cup (115g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon brown food coloring (optional)
1 - 1 1/4 cup (225g - 285g) ground almonds
1/2 cup (115g) powdered sugar
For the vanilla bean cream:
2 tablespoons soy margarine
3 cups (675g) powdered sugar
4 - 6 tablespoons almond or soy milk
Seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla pod
First, make the macaron shells:
1. To extract aquafaba, use a colander to drain the liquid from the chickpeas into a separate container. Let sit until chickpeas are completely drained (do not rinse). Keep this liquid and set the chickpeas aside for another recipe.
2. Pour aquafaba into a small saucepan. Add the chai tea bag and allow to simmer, over medium heat, until mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup (75ml) and the mixture is brown from the tea infusion, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the tea bag let cool for 10 minutes.
3. Pour the reduced aquafaba into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment. Whisk on medium to high speed until soft peaks form.
4. Add half the sugar and whisk until well combined. Then, add the remaining sugar and the food coloring (if using) and whisk at high speed until the meringue is glossy and thick with the consistency of marshmallow fluff. If mixture is too thin, slowly add in up to a 1/4 cup (60g) ground almonds to thicken. Set aside.
5. Pulse the ground almonds a few times in a food processor until very finely ground. Add the powdered sugar and the chai tea and process for a few seconds, until well combined.
6. Sieve the almond-sugar mixture and discard any large pieces. Pour half the dry mixture into the meringue and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together, pressing the dry ingredients down into the meringue until well incorporated. Add the remaining dry mixture and fold into the batter.
7. Firmly press the batter against the side of the bowl and then scoop it up and turn over. Repeat this process another 19 times. After macaronnage, the batter should be thick and glossy, but fall off the spatula like a ribbon and spread slightly in the bowl.
8. Spoon the batter into a large piping bag and seal at the top. Line two large baking trays with grease-proof paper and carefully pipe 15 circles onto each, in one smooth motion holding the piping bag directly above the center of each macaron.
9. Drop the baking sheets three times onto a hard surface (this helps to get rid of air bubbles). Leave the macarons to dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
10. Once ready to bake, place the first baking tray into a cold, unheated oven and set oven to 200 degrees (just under 100 degrees C). Bake the macarons for 20 minutes. Check that the macarons are sufficiently baked by gently lifting up a corner of the grease proof paper and seeing if the macaron shell comes off easily.
11. Turn off your oven and leave the macarons inside with the door shut for 15 minutes. Then, open the door and leave them to cool inside the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the baking tray at room temperature.
12. Once the oven is completely cold, repeat the baking process with your second tray of macaron shells.
Then, make the cream:
13. Cream together the butter spread, vanilla seeds and half the powdered sugar until smooth. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and as much milk as needed until the cream is thick, but soft.
14. Spoon the cream into a piping bag and seal at the top.
15. Put cooled macaron shells on a rack or tray. Pipe a generous blob of cream onto half the macaron shells. Then, sandwich together with the top shells.
16. Place the macarons in the fridge overnight before eating (this allows the flavors to develop and gives the desired chew). Macarons keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for months.