Monday, May 26, 2014

Savory Pimento Cheese Macarons


A few years ago, Joey and I started a birthday tradition.  On my birthday, we make a reservation at a nice restaurant, book a hotel room, and make a weekend out of being tourists in our own city.  It is such a fun weekend for us, and one that I look forward to all year long.

This year we went to Restaurant Eugene, which I had been wanting to try for years.  It was by far the best meal I've ever had in Atlanta, and one that I will certainly remember for years to come.  We went all out and ordered the chef's tasting menu, complete with wine pairings.  In between courses, we were treated to several "gifts from the chef."  Little bites and small dishes meant to cleanse the palate or give you a little surprise.

The most memorable one?  A savory macaron with pimento cheese filling.  Yes, really.  It was a subtly sweet macaron shell, spiked with a hefty dose of black pepper.  Inside was a creamy and sharp pimento cheese filling.  This fusion-style French cookie combined my love for macarons with my undying love for pimento cheese, and I immediately knew that I MUST recreate this amazing cookie in my own kitchen.

I used my standard macaron shell recipe, decreased the sugar just a bit, and added black pepper, salt, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and dry mustard powder.  For the filling, you could certainly just slather pimento cheese on the cookies, but I pureed some pimento cheese with a  bit of heavy cream and piped it on.

These cookies are unique and novel.  There's just  hint of sweetness in the macaron shell, which plays nicely off of the spicy pepper and sharp cheddar filling.  These would be just lovely set out as part of a cheese tray, or to serve at a brunch, shower, or party.  They are rich and bold, so you really won't eat more than one at a time, which makes them perfect for a party.  I always like to serve something a bit unexpected and unusual, and these pimento cheese macarons fit the bill perfectly.

Savory Black Pepper and Pimento Cheese Macarons
macaron shell adapted heavily from these vanilla bean macarons

  • 110 g almond meal
  • 175 g sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch dry mustard powder
  • 100 g egg whites, aged at room temperature for a day (about 3 eggs)
  • 30 grams granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup pimento cheese
  • 2-3 Tbs heavy cream
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. 

In a medium bowl whisk together the almond meal, confectioner's sugar, pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, and mustard powder.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy, then gradually stream in the granulated sugar and continue to whip until a shiny, glossy meringue forms (but not dry).

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and add the almond mixture.  Using a rubber spatula, briskly and quickly fold the almond meal into the egg whites.  After a few brisk strokes, slow down and then gently incorporate the rest into the batter.You want a batter that flows and "ribbons" for at least 5 seconds.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.  Pipe the batter into 1 1/2-inch rounds, spacing them about 1-inch apart.

Whack the baking sheets on the counter a few times, then allow to sit at room temperature 45 minutes-1 hour, or until a hard shell forms.

As the shells rest, prepare the filling.  Add the pimento cheese to the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times.  Add the heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth and thinned to a pipe-able consistency.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Bake the macarons 8-10 minutes, depending on size.  Allow to cool completely on the pan before using a small spatula to remove them.  Match the cookies according to size and pipe filling on half, using the other half to form a sandwich.


Josie said...

These are so unique, never would have thought of this, but love the idea. Sounds so good!!

Josie said...

A savory macaron! This is brand new news to me. It looks amazing :)

Josie said...

Wow, these sound amazing! I am super curious about them--especially because I am not a sweets person. So these sound way better than pretty much any macaron recipe I've ever seen before!

Josie said...

I am BURSTING with excitement to try these. Seriously!

Josie said...

Wow, cheese macarons is such a great idea! I never would have thought of this but I know I would love it!

Josie said...

Oh My----you have my attention. What an amazing idea! Never never never would have thought of this like others have noted. I love your concept of a birthday celebrations. Major fun!!!

Josie said...

how many tarts does this make?

Josie said...

These are CRAZY. But in the best way. I will definitely be adding them to my bucket list!

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