Thursday, April 19, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Macarons

This month's Improv Challenge ingredients, peanut butter and jelly, couldn't be a better fit for me. I remember as a child if my mother put anything in my lunch besides PB&J I would just return home with it. I'm not sure if it was the peanut butter or the homemade jelly that was the star of my lunch, but I guess you just can't separate them. I'm glad that all my kids love peanut butter and jelly, and it is a serious grocery emergency if we happen to run out of either ingredient. While the sandwich is a lunch box staple, the combination of creamy peanut butter and sweet jelly is delicious in other ways as well. For this challenge I made peanut macarons with a white chocolate and strawberry jam buttercream filling.

I started with my usual macaron recipe, substituting finely ground peanuts for part of the ground almonds and came up with a nice peanut flavored cookie that still had the characteristics of a regular macaron. I knew I didn't want to fill them with plain jam, or a plain buttercream, so I put the two together to get a smooth creamy frosting with sweet strawberry flavor. As much as our family loves PB&J, we all thought it was pretty awesome to be able to make the cookie version of our favorite sandwich and have little bites of PB&J available in the cookie jar all week long. 

Peanut Butter Macarons
2 egg whites (100 grams)
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup ground peanuts
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1. Process the nuts with the powdered sugar in the food processor to combine. 
2. Beat egg white until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Continue beating until you have firm glossy meringue.
3. Add the nut mixture in two additions. Sprinkle 1/2 of the nuts over the egg whites and fold in. Repeat with the remaining nuts. Be careful not to over mix. You will know that batter is ready if a ribbon of batter dropped from a spoon on top of the batter in the bowl disappears in 30 seconds.
4. Line cookie sheet with parchment or silpat.
5. Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip. Pipe batter on your prepared pan in one inch dots, they will spread to about 1 1/2 inch diameter dots. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to develop a crust  before baking
6. Bake in a 280 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until cookies just start to color. Cool on parchment paper.  Store in an air tight container.

White Chocolate Strawberry Jam Butter Cream

1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
3 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
Pinch of salt

Whip the butter and salt until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar followed by the white chocolate, beating to incorporate. Add the strawberry jam and continue beating until light and fluffy. Fill each cookie with the butter-cream and refrigerate for 24 hours to allow flavors to mellow.

If you interested in joining the Improv challenge visit Kristen at the Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.

Link: Foodie Friday