Airy, vanilla bean flecked cookies sandwiched with thick and creamy vanilla frosting. Together the cookie and frosting create a delightfully light but chewy cookie packed with the purest vanilla flavor.
So I haven’t posted about Paris yet in my “Traveling Yumminess” series, but I had this amazing Vanilla Bean Macaron that was made with vanilla from Tahiti. It was so good that I am still remembering the unbelievably vanilla-ey-ness a week later. My mom and I were on such a macaron withdrawal (after having eaten 10 a day in Paris) that I decided I had no choice but to make them.
I won’t try to tell you that making macarons isn’t finicky but reading up on the technique in this post will help you avoid the pitfalls. Don’t worry if they crack or you don’t get feet (the little ruffles)… while they won’t look as pretty, they will taste just as good!
I have never worked with vanilla beans before. I always thought they were super expensive and something only really fancy chefs bothered with. But let me tell you, they are so worth the price and give you so much more vanilla flavor than extract can. I bought two at my grocery store for about $7 and this recipe only uses one. Once I thought about it, I spend around $3-$4 on the lemons for those Lemon Curd Macarons and on the chocolate in those French Macarons with Chocolate Ganache. So I shouldn’t feel like I’m splurging by buying really good vanilla for my macarons, right? Right.
YouTube a video on how to scrape the seeds out if you aren’t sure. It’s not difficult… you just cut a slit lengthwise in the bean to open it up and then run the edge of your knife along the inside of the shell to scrape the seeds out. The seeds look like wet dirt but smell a lot better than wet dirt! You will need half of the bean for the cookies and half for the frosting, so cut the bean in half before you scrape the seeds out so you don’t have to measure later.
The vanilla bean seeds fleck the cookies and the frosting and make them look so fancy and sophisticated…it’s like the bow tie on what would otherwise look very plain!
These cookies should be refrigerated and I actually like them better refrigerated than room temperature. The cookies and the frosting really meld together and the cookies soften up some in the fridge.
I know these look pretty boring… I mean it’s vanilla…I swear I’m not a vanilla ice cream person but this is vanilla in its finest and purest form!
- 200 g (a skimpy 2 cups) powdered sugar
- 100 g (1 cup) almond flour/meal
- 100 g (3 large eggs) egg whites, room temperature*
- pinch of salt
- 50 g (about ¼ cup) granulated sugar
- Seeds from ½ a vanilla bean**
- ½ cup salted butter, softened
- 1½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- Seeds from ½ a vanilla bean**
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sift powdered sugar and almond flour together twice, throwing the leftover almond pebbles out.
- In a separate bowl and with a mixer, beat the room temperature egg whites and salt on medium speed until they are white and frothy.
- Add granulated sugar and vanilla bean and beat until you have soft peaks.
- Beat in food coloring and then continue mixing until you have stiff peaks. Do not over beat.
- Fold all of the powdered sugar and almond mixture into the meringue. Fold until the batter is no longer gritty and runs off the spatula like lava would, about 30-50 turns.
- Let the batter sit for 10-25 minutes.
- Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. If you want to use a pattern to help you pipe uniform circles, slip that under the parchment paper that you are piping on.
- Using a pastry bag (or a ziplock) and a ½ inch tip, pipe out the batter into uniform 1.5 inch diameter circles.
- Tap the pan on the counter to get rid of air bubbles and any peaks from piping.
- Let the cookies rest for about 30 - 60 minutes on the counter so that the cookies are tacky to the touch. Larger cookies will need more towards 45 - 60 minutes while 1 inch cookies will need less time. If the cookies have not sat out long enough, they will crack on the top and will not form feet.
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Bake one sheet at a time for about 15-20 minutes, until they are lightly golden brown. They should easily peel off the parchment paper. It is better for the cookies to be slightly overdone rather than underdone. Overdone cookies will soften up over time in the refrigerator whereas underdone cookies end up hollow.
- Let cool on the pan on a wire rack.
- Beat the butter and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer.
- Add in the vanilla bean seeds.
- Taste. If not vanilla-ey enough, add in the vanilla extract.*
- Pair similar sized cookies together
- Smear or pipe one cookie with frosting and sandwich it with the other.
**Some vanilla beans are stronger than others. The ones I used needed the extra kick of the extract or some more vanilla bean seeds.