It’s fall and I’m starting to seek out those recipes that are subtly spicy and comforting. When I met Rio Miura at a conference earlier this year, I was so thrilled to discover that she actually owned a chai company, David Rio Chai, based out of San Francisco.
Rio told me how she experimented and blended her very own chai, eventually creating David Rio Tiger Spice Chai. This company’s powdered chai mix is most commonly and simply enjoyed by mixing it with milk or water, like an adult chocolate milk of sorts. I stumbled upon a canister of this at Cost Plus World Market the other day.
After weeks of experimenting I’ve come up with a recipe that showcases a unique culinary application of David Rio Chai…Vanilla Bean Chai Macarons! Using a chai mix for the filling in this recipe is ideal since it adds concentrated chai flavor without adding moisture.
People commonly complain that french macarons are too sweet. Since there is only so much sugar-adjusting one can do with the shell part of a French macaron, the filling is where the sweet factor can more easily be tempered.
In this recipe, I’ve replaced some of the confectioners’ sugar with cornstarch, which I commonly do in some of my other frosting recipes. Also, I’ve added some ground almond meal into the filling itself. I learned this technique from a European cookbook, where confections that are frangipane (almond filling) based are traditional and classic. Adding almond meal instead of more powdered sugar in this recipe allows you to 1.) achieve a less-sweet, rich creaminess throughout the finished macaron and 2.) get volume and stiffness into your frosting without having to add more sugar. Also, this little trick is relatively easy since you are using leftover almond flour that you have on hand from making the shells earlier.
With a cup of black tea, these softly spiced Vanilla Bean Chai French Macarons will get you settled into autumn in no time. Drinking an unsweetened black tea like a Darjeeling or Assam with these macarons will allow the chai flavor in the cookie itself to shine through. These macarons are delicious at room temperature or even straight out of the fridge, where they can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container.
Vanilla Bean Chai Macarons
Makes about 35 sandwiched 1.5″ macarons. Recipe is easily halved using a hand-held mixer instead of a stand mixer.
80 grams of aged (3 hours-5 days), room temperature egg whites (from about 3 eggs), separated in two bowls (one with 60 grams, the other with 20)
1 tsp meringue powder
pinch of cream of tartar
90 grams granulated sugar
35 ml water
100 grams confectioners’ sugar
100 grams ground almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla bean seeds
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted room-temperature butter
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 cup ground almond flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp chai powder drink mix (I used David Rio brand)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
(replace matcha powder with vanilla bean seeds)
2.) While macaron shells are cooling, mix butter to a fluffy consistency.
3.) Gradually mix in confectioner’s sugar to the mixture.
4.) One ingredient at a time, add and mix in almond flour, cornstarch, chai powder, vanilla, and cinnamon. Incorporate thoroughly after each addition.
5.) Allow macaron shells to fully cool before filling with chai buttercream using a 1/4″ or 1/2″ pastry tip.