Monday, September 17, 2012

Coffee or Tea?

Hot or iced?

Sweet or unsweet?

Being a professional barista, I ask these questions all the time. Sometimes it's hard to decide. I love it all: Hot, iced, sweet, unsweet, frozen, on the rocks, coffee or tea. But now I have a new question I can ask...

Dessert or Snack?

Hazelnut Mocha or Tea with Honey?

Mmm... Nutella. You know that fantastically addictive chocolate hazelnut spread? Pair that with a crispy, chewy coffee flavored macaron cookie... Pure delight.

But who doesn't like tea with honey? These used a combination of lapsang souchong (a smoked black tea) and breakfast tea. Filled with a sweet, custard-like honey buttercream, these macarons are dangerously delicious.

Buttercream 101

Before I get too far into these macarons, let's take a moment and learn about buttercream. 

When I first came across this recipe for honey buttercream, I had to research if it was possible. I had never heard of cooking egg yolks and then beating in butter. I quickly learned there are five types of buttercream: 

     American - a combination of powdered sugar, butter, sometimes shortening and flavor

     Swiss - egg whites and sugar that are heated in a double boiler to 140-160 F, then whipped into a meringue before adding butter

     Italian - sugar syrup heated to the soft ball stage and then drizzled into whipped egg whites before adding butter

     French - made the same way as Italian, except using egg yolks instead of whites 

     German (Bavarian) - egg yolks and sugar cooked until thickened, allowed to cool and then beaten with butter.

American buttercream is by far the sweetest of these. I've never tried a French buttercream, but the German is extremely rich, creamy and super spreadable. I still love my Swiss Meringue, but I might have found a new filling favorite. 

I've come across recipes for instant pudding in frosting, but I want to try a cook and serve pudding mix as a base to German buttercream. I'm going to apply my scientific method and research this. I'll let y'all know how it works out. 

Now back to macarons... 

I easily modified my macaron recipe for the Hazelnut Mocha Macarons by adding 2 tablespoons of instant coffee powder to the almond/powdered sugar mix. I piped them into 1 inch cookies and filled with a simple smear of Nutella.

For the Tea-n-Honey Macarons, I added the tea from three single cup servings of tea to the almond mix. I followed this recipe without any adaptions for the honey buttercream. 

I made the coffee macarons first and decided that the tea macarons needed to be a bit larger. These are roughly 1 1/2 to 2 inches across. (I really didn't measure and they've all been gobbled up by now) The macaron batter made exactly 30 cookies (that's 15 sandwiches). I was able to generously fill all the cookies and only had about a quarter cup of honey buttercream left over. 

So get out there and caffeinate your dessert. Or snack. Really it just depends on when you attack these babies...
 here's to choices!