it actually wasn't my idea. a friend of a friend threw it out there as she was asking me to make some valentine's day cookies for her. she said her husband was a huge belgian beer fan and she was wondering if i thought i could incorporate it into a macaron somehow.
i'm not typically all about making my own recipes. i like using tried-and-true ones, and hoping that my stab at it turns out well. but i was feeling up to a challenge, and there had to be someone who'd already tried it - or so i thought.
i googled and googled, and - nothing. but then i got to thinking: what if i just boiled that beer down into a syrup? reduce the crap out of it until it's thickened and the flavor is really concentrated, and then stir it into a thick buttercream as the filling?
i decided to give it a shot. she'd also asked if i could use natural food coloring as they were trying to avoid artificial dyes for their family, and so i found it online. this was the first time i got to try it out - i wondered if it would be as vibrant as the regular gel colorings i typically use.
i mixed up the macaron batter easily, going by memory on the measurements. and the color looked pretty good, yes?
while i let them sit out to dry, i got started on that beer syrup.
when the hour was up, the beer was still reducing and the house smelled really...funky. i popped the macarons into the oven and got busy working on other stuff as they baked. they looked good, and i was happy to have them done.
except that they...weren't. they were so sticky that i couldn't get them off of the parchment paper in one piece, and i got so frustrated i just tossed both sheets right into the trash and decided to start again the next day. gah!
the beer had dwindled down to just a few tablespoons' worth, but was still rather thin. i tossed some brown sugar into it and it thickened up nicely.
the next day, i redid the macarons. somehow, they turned out just like the first batch. i think i'm baking them at the wrong temperature. WTF did i do differently from a couple of weeks ago? ugh. but i didn't have time to play around, so i used the few usable shells i had and filled them with the buttercream i'd made. i did a simple butter and sugar mixture and then used some of the leftover beer in place of the liquid. i folded in about a tablespoonful of that beer syrup, and while it was a little...odd, i figured it was because i 1. hate beer and 2. wasn't used to the smell of the dark belgian stuff.
i force-fed one to the hub, who reluctantly admitted that it was pretty good, and MIL said she thought it tasted a little butterscotch-y. the teen thought it was good too, and so all that feedback was good enough for me.
at my junior league meeting (where i test out a lot of my experiments lately), they went over pretty well. i brought about ten macarons, and there was half of one left by the time the meeting adjourned. all in all, i think the friend-of-a-friend will be happy with them.
at least, i hope so. we'll see in a week and a half!