Nutty Nostalgia

By Emily Chavez

Seeing the little kids in my neighborhood head to school for the new year reminds me of my first day. 

I enjoyed the simple school lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just as much as the elaborate meals my mother or grandmother would make for my sister and me. 

The PB&J sandwich is nostalgic for many people and even serves as a comfort food when a break is needed from the hectic “grown-up” life. The traditional flavor pairing of peanut butter and jelly — my classic choice being grape — is reimagined in these macarons. It delights texturally with the delicate crunch and chewiness of the macaron and the creamy peanut butter and jelly cream filling.

PB&J Macarons

Active time: 35 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

Yields about 24 macarons

Ingredients

2/3 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar for syrup

4 1/4 ounces egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 cup water

1 1/3 cups almond flour

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out

3 1/2 ounces cream cheese

1 3/4 ounces peanut butter

1 3/4 ounces grape jelly

Optional food coloring for the macarons

Instructions

1. Stir the almond flour, powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a bowl. 

2. Add half of the egg whites, stir until a paste is formed, and set aside. 

3. To make the sugar syrup, stir together the 2/3 cup sugar and water in a small pot until the temperature reaches 245 degrees.

4. While the sugar syrup is heating up, whisk the remaining egg whites in another bowl until frothy. Then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whisking until fluffy. 

5. Once the sugar syrup mixture reaches 249 degrees, carefully pour it into the fluffy eggs. Whisk until the mixture is stiff, fluffy, and holds its shape.

6. Optional: If you want to add food coloring, add it to the meringue at this step. 

7. Stir a spoonful of the meringue into the almond paste to loosen it. Then, gently fold the remaining almond paste into the meringue with a spatula. 

8. Put the mixture into a piping bag, and pipe 1 1/2-inch flat circles onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

9. Bake at 320 degrees for about 12 to 14 minutes, until firm to touch, being careful they don’t brown.

10. To make the filling, combine half of the cream cheese with the peanut butter in a bowl and mix together until smooth and fully incorporated. 

11. In another bowl, combine the remaining half of the cream cheese and jelly and mix together until smooth and fully incorporated.

12. Decoratively pipe the filling on a macaron half or apply with a small spatula and then top with another macaron half. 

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