“You see what kills your body, but you don’t see what kills your soul.” – Lacey Sturm
I feel like I’m on hiatus of late, waiting for something to show or someone to come. I can’t quite figure out who or what. And I for sure can’t figure out how or when. My current vices being impatience, frustration, and affliction. Making new lazing routines, like taking the day (more apt, the week) off, and counting the rain.
Attaching each isolate droplet to drought-eyed memories. And more often than not the occasional feeling of guilt surfaces. It’s a grievance, and seemingly stagnate. But perhaps, at this moment, it’s what I need. There’s a yearning with an unquenchable thirst attached to it all too. A hunger that isn’t a hunger. A deep craving for something that my subconscious desires, that I cannot, and will not, admit – never in private, not even in the dark.
I like to rest, though never sleep. I’ve recently re-discovered the pleasure of later sallowed hours – reading, watching, night-thinking. Moon waxing, and waning. And all the extra time that I’ve allowed to myself, has given me a new opportunity to pursue what I love. Writing, and creating. More often than not, I’m in the kitchen. Working on all the ideas dreamt the night before. Just like these Café au Lait Macaron Cucpcakes.
So let’s talk cupcakes. I made these cupcakes a few weeks ago and have been dreaming about them since. They’re just the type of thing that I like to eat. Dainty coffee flavoured macaron, dainty coffee flavoured cake, and a very delicious chocolate and coffee infused frosting.
The cupcake base is an incredibly soft and moist coffee flavoured cake. The crumb is good, the flavour is present, it’s one of my favourites. The cupcake frosting is a richly sweet milk and white chocolate infusion of a buttercream with a little hint of espresso too. It’s lovely, pillowy, and a frosting I use often. The combination of both chocolates results in the most luscious and chocolate-y taste that’s not overpowering at all. Mellow, and it compliments the cake perfectly.
Adorning each cupcake top, is a singular coffee flavoured macaron. It’s such a delicious and textural touch to add to the cupcakes and I think that they look so sweet and impressive. If you haven’t made macarons before, or are daunted by the task – these macarons are quite simple. It’s the perfect recipe to start with. For the macarons, I used the ‘french technique’, meaning there’s no temperature control nor thermometer needed, fewer fiddly tasks too. The macarons turn out perfect every single time, and I often use the recipe as the base for many different flavoured macarons – chocolate, mint, vanilla.
These Café au Lait Macaron Cupcakes are something special, and definitely something I’m itching to make again soon. I’ll take a cupcake over a slice of cake any day, mainly because you can get all crumbed up and as deliciously messy as you please. Little cupcakes are way cuter too, especially ones like these.
- 180 grams (6.35 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 10 grams (.35 ounces) finely ground espresso powder
- 110 grams (3.88 ounces) almond meal, sifted twice
- 95 grams (3.35 ounces) egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 30 grams (1 ounce) granulated sugar
- 113 grams (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 225 grams (8 ounces) granulated sugar
- 190 grams (6.7 ounces) cake flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 115 millilitres (4.05 ounces) milk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
- 1 tablespoon finely ground espresso powder brewed in 1 tablespoon boiling water, cooled
- 200 grams (7 ounces) white chocolate, finely chopped
- 200 grams (7 ounces) milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 250 grams (8.8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 200 grams (7 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon finely ground espresso powder brewed in 1 teaspoon boiling water, cooled
- Place two macaron slip mats on two baking trays. Alternatively you can also line each baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place the confectioners’ sugar and espresso powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until evenly distributed. Add in the almond meal and pulse until well combined. Sift the meal mixture into a large bowl. Set aside.
- Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment set on medium-low speed, or with a handheld electric whisk, whisk until the whites reach soft peaks.
- Increase the speed to medium and pour the sugar into the whisking whites in a steady stream. Continue to whisk until the mixture holds stiff and glossy peaks. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold half of the egg white meringue into the dry ingredients to loosen it. Then, gently fold in the remaining meringue until incorporated. The mixture will be thick and shiny, and if you run your finger through it, it will flow like lava and leave a trail.
- Place the mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a 1 cm (.4 inch) nozzle. Pipe macaron shaped circles onto the mats (or onto the parchment lined baking trays), about 3 cm (1.2 inch) in diameter, evenly spacing the circles apart to allow room for spreading. Tap the baking trays firmly on the bench to pop any air bubbles then leave the macarons to dry for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the macaron tops have formed a skin. You can feel this by gently touching the tops of the shells. If they are still sticky, they need longer to set.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 130 C (266 F). When the macarons are ready to bake, place each tray in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until risen and crisp to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before gently inverting out onto a wire rack and setting aside for filling. The macaron shells are best made one day in advance, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed for assembly.
- Pre-heat the oven to 175 C (350 F). Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, or with handheld electric beaters, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Add the eggs to the beating butter mixture, one at a time, until incorporated. Pause mixing as needed to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- In a small jug, whisk together the milk, vanilla bean extract and brewed espresso.
- Lower the mixer speed and pour in ⅓ of the liquid ingredients, beat to combine. Add in ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Repeat this alternating additions process, until all the liquid and dry ingredients have been incorporated - making sure that you end with the last ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Increase the mixer speed to high, and beat for a further 2 minutes or until very smooth and fluffy.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared paper liners filling no more than ⅔rds of the way full.
- Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 23 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and finishing with the macarons.
- Place the white and milk chocolate in two separate bowls set over saucepans of barely simmering water set on low heat. Melt down each chocolate, stirring often with a rubber spatula until smooth and glossy. Remove the bowls from the heat.
- Place half of the melted white chocolate into a separate medium sized bowl then pour in half of the melted milk chocolate into the same bowl. Stir it to combine. You should have 3 bowls in total, one with milk chocolate, one with white chocolate and one with a combination of the two. Let the chocolates cool to room temperature.
- When the melted chocolates have cooled to room temperature, place the macaron shells flat side facing down on a parchment lined baking tray or cooling rack.
- Place the melted and cooled white and milk chocolates in two separate pastry bags. Snip off the tips. Drizzle the white chocolate lengthwise over the edge of the macaron tops. Do the same with the melted milk chocolate, though this time horizontally. You want to create a thatch like pattern of drizzled chocolate over the macaron shells. Set the macaron shells in the fridge to harden the chocolate whilst you prepare the filling and frosting.
- Next, place the remaining butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, or with handheld electric beaters, beat until smooth, 2 minutes. Add in the confectioners’ sugar and beat on medium speed until light, fluffy and evenly combined. Pour in the remaining bowl with the combination of the two chocolates that you set aside earlier. Beat until smooth. Add in the brewed espresso, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until thick, lightened in colour and smooth. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
- Fit the frosting into a large pastry bag and snip off the tip. Generously frost the tops of the cooled cupcakes. Then, use the same frosting to fill half of the macaron shells. Sandwich each filled shell with a matching un-filled macaron shell. Press 12 of the best macarons onto the frosted cupcakes and chill the cupcakes until just firm before serving, 10 to 15 minutes.