Cookies and Cream Macarons

Growing up, Oreos were never that big of a deal to me. I had eaten them before and they were good, but we never had them in the cupboards at home. Out of sight, out of mind. Over the years, they were grouped into the "store bought cookies are nasty" category in my mind and then subsequently forgotten about.

Until I decided to make these.

A few months ago, I went to a cafe, had lunch, and had a few macaroons as well, one of them being cookies and cream. It was good, I liked it. I wanted to recreate it at home.

Fast forward a few months and I finally decide to go for it. I reluctantly bought a box of oreos from the store. I thought to myself, 

"I'm probably only going to need a few oreos for the recipe. What the hell am I going to do with the rest of them? I don't want to eat all of them..."

I resolved that I would just give them to my boyfriend. I started making the macarons, blitzed up a couple oreos for the ganache, and decided to eat one, because, well, someone had to eat them.

I was at a loss for words. It was... incredible. I quickly poured a glass of milk, dunked my oreo, and devoured the rest of it. I ate another oreo, and then another. 

"Oh my god, these are amazing. How did I forget about them? So many years wasted."

Long story short, the entire box of oreos was gone in less than 24 hours. I was like a goodie-two-shoes girl going off to university and trying alcohol for the first time, then getting blackout drunk. I had no control, no sense of limitations for how many oreos one person should respectably eat in one day.

I wish I could say I felt guilty after, but I really just felt happy. Even though I didn't have any oreos left, I had these macarons which were equally delicious. 

Cookies and Cream Macarons
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery

Oreo Ganache
260 g heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
260 g white chocolate, chopped
100 g finely crushed oreo cookies

212 g (1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 tabespoons) almond flour/meal
212 g (1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) powdered sugar
82 g (1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons) egg whites
90 g (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) egg whites
1 vanilla bean 
236 g (1 cup + 3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
158 g (2/3 cup) water
10 g finely crushed oreos, for garnish

First, make the ganache.

Pour the cream into a saucepan and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod. Add the seeds and the pod to the cream. Over medium heat, bring to just a boil, then strain over the chopped chocolate. Wait a minute, then use a rubber spatula to slowly stir the mixture until it is completely smooth. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ganache and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

The macarons need to be as close in size as possible and a template is the easiest way to ensure that. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface with the long side facing you. Trace four evenly spaced 2 1/4 inch circles along the top edge (these make large macarons, modify the size if you wish, but keep in mind, the baking time will be shorter). Make sure to leave 1 inch of space between them. Trace three circles below each of those four, to make 3 x 4 macarons. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray with non-stick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar 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. 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 finely crushed oreos in a sieve and gently dust the tops of the macarons with the crumbs.

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 400 degrees again.

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

For the filling, transfer the ganache to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. On medium speed, whip the ganache until lighter and it holds a soft peak. Be very careful not to overwhip it, as it will separate and become grainy. Fold in the chopped oreos. Transfer to a piping bag with a 1/2 inch tip.

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 ganache to the edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling.

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.