Friday, February 5, 2016

Deliciously Weird: Flaming Hot Cheeto Macarons

It's been a busy past few weeks, but that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking up some delicious (and sometimes strange) macarons.

My friend Mara is the world's biggest flaming hot cheetos fan.  She eats them for breakfast.  She always has at least one bag on her at all times.  She can even smell them if someone opens a bag anywhere nearby - her words, not mine.

Drawn by the awesomely talented aforementioned Mara!
So when I found out she was coming to visit and stay with me for a week, I knew exactly what had to be done.

Yes, I did it - I went there.  I made Flaming Hot Cheeto Macarons - to be a bit more precise, I made shells topped with crushed Flaming Hot Cheetos, then I filled them with a Flaming Hot Cheeto whipped white chocolate ganache.  It was by far the classiest trashy dessert I've ever made.

They're the perfect Valentines Day colors, actually.
My thoughts were that even if they were utterly disgusting, it would still be hilarious, but much to my surprise...they were amazing!  And I definitely do not like Cheetos.  I think the biggest turn off is telling people what they're made from, and to be quite honest they could easily pass as a Tobasco or a spicy salt and vinegar macaron.  You didn't really get the cheesy taste, but I was okay with that.  They had a nice bit of heat at the end, and the salt from the Cheetos paired really nicely with the sweetness of the macaron shell.  Multiple people even told me they were the best flavor I had made yet, which absolutely surprised me!

Others have done Cheeto 'roons before, but I think I'm the first to do a flaming hot version.  Anyway, here's the recipe in all of its weird, wonderful glory.  The recipe is the same as usual, though next time I will try to add some cheeto dust into the shells to see what happens. 

- 120 g almond meal
- 200 g powdered sugar
- 100 g egg whites
- 32 g granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- Red & Orange Americolor gel, as desired (optional)
- Crushed Flaming Hot Cheetos (I used the baked version)

1) Prep your silicon baking mats (or parchment paper) and your piping bag.  I use a round tip (Aetco #11) for my macarons, unless I'm doing detail work or making them huge.

2) Place your egg whites in a stainless steel bowl with the cream of tartar.  If using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment, making sure that the whisk and bowl are completely clean before adding any ingredients.

3) Add the almond meal and powdered sugar to a food processor, and process for about ten to twenty seconds to make the almond meal a bit finer.  Sift this mixture into a mixing bowl and set aside.  If you're brave, you can try adding a few cheetos to the food processor and integrate them into the shells.

4) Begin mixing your egg whites on medium low speed, until they start to get to early stages of soft peaks.  Increase the speed to medium, and once soft peaks start forming, slowly add the granulated sugar. 

5) Continue mixing on medium until stiff peaks are about to form.  Add in the food coloring, if using, and increase the speed to medium high until stiff peaks form.  Remove the bowl from your stand mixer - the rest is done by hand.

6) Start adding in your almond meal sugar mixture a quarter or so at a time.  Using a spatula or a bowl scraper, fold it in until just combined, then add another quarter.  This is the tricky part - you're looking for a lava like consistency that flows in ribbons back into itself.  

7) Once your batter has reached maximum cheeto-y lava consistency, transfer it to your piping bag. 

8) Pipe your macarons onto your silpat, using a template if you desire.  Try to make them a consistent size and don't crowd the poor things!  They bake a lot better when they're consistent and have plenty of space.  After you've piped them, you need to get the air bubbles out of them by rapping the cookie sheet on the counter a few times, which also helps the macarons settle and remove any lumps. 

9) Hey, noticed how I haven't told you to preheat your oven yet?  That's because these little shells need to rest until they form a skin, usually about thirty minutes or so.  Now that you've piped your first batch, preheat the oven to 300F.  You have to know your oven a bit - mine works great at 295 to 300, but when I lived in my last place I had to go to 310. 

I'm a big fan of these Simple Baker macaron silpats for consistency.
10) About fifteen or so minutes after piping your shells, crush some hot cheetos by putting them in a plastic bag and rolling it with a rolling pin, beating it with a pan, or stomping on it like it's a giant spider.  Sprinkle some hot cheeto dust on your shells.  Careful not to inhale the powder - not because it's bad for you or anything, it's just unpleasant to breathe in.  

11) Once your shells have rested, put the macarons in your oven on the bottom rack and bake for 16-18 minutes.  They shouldn't get golden brown, though some ovens might brown them if the broiler kicks on.  If that happens, try putting another cookie sheet on your top rack to shield your shells a bit.

12) Let the shells cool before removing them from the silpat.  

Feet and Cheeto dust.
I will warn you that the ganache smells....well, when you're making it, it smells like Kraft Mac N' Cheese gone horribly wrong.  I was absolutely, one hundred percent certain that the ganache was going to be terrible and nasty, but once it cooled the smell went away and it was good.  Admittedly I didn't care for it at first, but once it melded with the shells, I ended up eating four of these.  So don't worry if your ganache smells like feet!

- 9 oz white baking chocolate
- 8 to 10 oz heavy cream (the cheetos can absorb a lot, so you might not use all, or you might need more)
- 2 cups Flaming Hot Cheetos (I ended up using the baked ones, as those were all I could find, which I think is optimal as there's a lot less oil that can cause the ganache to break)

1) Add your white chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set aside.

2) Add your heavy cream and cheetos to a saucepot over low heat.  Stir frequently to make sure the cheetos are dispersed well throughout the heavy cream.  It will smell like macaroni and cheese when it starts to heat up, and the heavy cream will absorb the color of the cheetos.

3) Once the cheeto cream (never heard that before have you) is simmering, pour it through a strainer over your white chocolate and let sit for about a minute.  

4) Whisk everything together until smooth.  Let cool to room temperature.

5) Using a hand mixer, whip the ganache.  You'll notice the color start to lighten and the volume start to slightly increase.  Whip until you've reached a light and fluffy consistency, about two minutes or so.  

6) Transfer your whipped ganache to a piping bag with a round tip, and start filling your shells.  Let them age for at least 24 hours in the fridge so that the flavors can meld and become dangerously cheesy.

They really were pretty.  And spicy.  
So, there you have it.  It may be one of the worst things I've ever done.  I'm sure the sheer fact that I created them probably destroyed some poor French baker's soul.

I'm not sorry.