French Toast Macarons

I'm a big fan of taking the flavours of something ordinary, like french toast drenched in maple syrup, creating a completely different and elevated version of it, and still making you think, "French toast!" when you eat it. 

It's a fun way to play around in the kitchen and put your own spin on things. These macarons were inspired by a recipe for a chocolate bar in Francisco Migoyas Elements of Dessert. The ganache was poured over slices of brioche while still warm, then cooled, cut, placed in chocolates molds, and covered in more chocolate to seal it. I loved the idea of the french toast ganache, but decided to make something different out of it. 

I took the brioche out of the ganache recipe and decided to whip it once it was set so it would be stiff enough to pipe. Then, the macarons. I took my absolute go-to macaron recipe from Bouchon Bakery and added cinnamon to it. 

And thus was created my favourite macaron that I have ever had. 

Macarons are a great tool for those kinds of things. The shells can be flavoured with spices, chocolate, fruit powders, and herb oils. The filling is even more versatile. Buttercream, ganache, and jam can be flavoured almost any way you can think of. 

Play with your own combination of flavours! Think of your favourite flavour combinations and recreate that in a macaron. Try something new, something of your own creation. Think of an idea and then make it happen. 

French Toast Macarons

French Toast Ganache
Recipe adapted from Elements of Dessert

200 g heavy cream
50 g rum (optional)
3 g ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, scraped
50 g maple syrup
250 g white chocolate, chopped finely
5 g fleur de sel

Cinnamon Macarons
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery

212 g almond flour/meal
212 g powdered sugar
2 g ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean
82 g egg whites
90 g egg whites
236 g granulated sugar
158 g water

First, make the ganache. Combine the heavy cream, rum, cinnamon, and maple syrup in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the mixture. Reserve the vanilla bean for vanilla extract/sugar/powder/etc. 

Bring to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute and then stir to emulsify. Put plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ganache and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. 

Once it has set, put it in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attached. Whip the ganache until it holds its peak and is lighter in colour. Place in the refrigerator until needed.

For the macarons, prepare your template by tracing circles on the underside of your parchment in whatever size you desire or print out a macaron template (search on google) and place it under your parchment while you pipe. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar, and cinnamon into a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 F/110 C.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk. The meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm, the meringue should have cooled. If not, continue to whip until it is cool.

Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at  time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the "ribbon" slowly moves. The mixture shouldn't be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn't be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be sightly stiff than too loose.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. If you want to, sift a small amount of cinnamon onto each macaron. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the bag.

Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees again.

Pipe the remaining meringue mixture into the circles of the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely. 

Transfer the ganache to a piping bag.  Remove the macarons from the parchment paper. Turn half of them over. Starting in the center, pipe 15 g/1 tablespoon of ganache in a spiral pattern on one upside down macaron, not quite reaching the edges. Top with a second macaron and gently press to spread the buttercream to the edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling. 

The ganache may start to split from the warmth of your hand on the piping bag. If so, transfer to a bowl and beat it for a few seconds to bring it back to consistency, then refrigerate it for 10 minutes. Put back in the piping bag and continue.

The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before seving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.