There are many things in life that may seem futile to others. We live in a reality where it is not necessary to consume our time for little reward. Things are done by hand less and less, and most things fall under the category of “ain’t nobody got time for that!” We don’t churn our own butter, we don’t milk our own cows, and we certainly don’t utilize our edible flora like we use to. It is for good reason I suppose, as most don’t have time to spend hours a day foraging for food when you can load up a shopping cart with weeks worth of food for just a days pay. It is much more economical to buy a bag of bisquik, than it is to process acorns.
Acorns are the nut of oak trees, and were a staple food for much of the world. That is until the advent of modern agriculture. Simply put, it is much easier to grow and harvest cereal grains, than to forage. They are easy to grow, harvest, process, and are readily digested by our bodies as is. Acorns on the other hand are a bit more labor intensive. First, they have to be in season, which is only about once a year. Then, you find, harvest by hand, dry, sort, crack, grind, leach, dry, and regrind. You can imagine the work, but trust me, you have to try it to really see. Especially here in Colorado, where our small scrub oak produces acorns 1/3 the size of eastern states.
All this work for acorns is necessary because of a simple organic compound, tannin. Tannins are present in plant tissues, and are a very bitter, astringent flavor. Tannin is what is responsible for that taste of overboiled tea. It is used in traditional “tanning” of hides, where the solution is derived from boiling barks and wood chips to leech the tannin from them.
Acorns have a good amount of this tannin, which makes them very bitter and astringent tasting unprocessed. There are a few ways to go about processing them and a lot of individuals have gone over how to do it via YouTube. So I will not go into that for now. I will say that I did do a cold leech process, which took about 7 days. When dried I used a coffee grinder to grind a very fine powder to use as flour, and it can be used numerous ways from muffins, pancakes, quick-breads, and cookies.
Acorn flour is something that the wild-food community uses, and a lot of them use it for the above mentioned. I am a deviant, and am always looking for new applications and recipes. This is a recipe that is two years in the making as last year I processed some acorns for an attempt at this, and failed. Which meant my time processing the flour was all for not. This year I went on a mission to perfect a traditional macaron recipe and learn the little nuances and techniques to make these frustrating cookies. I land here, into uncharted territory. I have yet to see an acorn macaron done, except by myself. Say what you will about a bearded man who enjoys making cookies. I did it and it is glorious.
For this recipe I absolutely stress the use of a scale. Everything is measured in grams, and precision is key. THESE ARE SOME TOUGH COOKIES TO MASTER!!!! This is the Italian meringue method for macarons. I find it is more reliable, but is a tad more labor intensive. The use of a candy thermometer is needed.
- 140 Grams of Acorn Meal
- 140 Grams Powdered Sugar
- 100 Grams granulated sugar
- 100 Grams Egg White (about 3 large egg whites)
- 40 Grams water
- pinch of salt
- 2 Cups of powdered sugar
- 1 stick of butter
- pinch of salt
- 1-2 teaspoons of milk
Separate eggs and get to room temp. Prepare all your ingredients and pre-weigh everything.
Place 140g of acorn flour, 140g of powdered sugar, and salt into a sieve and pass through into a bowl.
Add half of the egg whites (50g) into the dry ingredients and fold into a smooth paste.
Place 100g granulated sugar and 40g of water into a small saucepan and place on medium heat. Place a candy thermometer in the sauce pan. (244* is the goal)
While the sugar and water are heating, place the remaining 50g of egg whites into a mixer and beat until stiff peaks and turn off.
Once the sugar water has reached 244-246*F. remove from the heat and add to the beaten whites slowly, while the mixer is on low. Once all the syrup is added, turn the mixer on high until the meringue is down to room temp.
Once the meringue is room temp, turn off mixer. With a rubber spatula, fold in the merengue to the acorn paste with a figure 8 pattern. Being sure to fully incorporate. Adding half the meringue, folding it in, then the remaining half, and repeat. Fold the “macaronage” until it has thinned enough to fall off the spatula in ribbons.
Once the right consistency is achieved, fill a piping bag with a #2 round tip. Prep a cookie sheet with parchment. I use a grid parchment, but a silicone sheet or a printed macaron diagram under parchment would also work. Something to encourage uniformity.
Pipe about 1″ rounds and evenly disperse across the sheet, being sure to be precise.
Slam the cookie sheet a few times on the counter to disperse the batter, and to rid the cookies of any bubbles at the surface. A toothpick can help to remove stubborn bubbles and flatten any peaks on the cookies.
Let the cookies sit at room temperature until they have dried enough to form a good skin on the outside. A good test is to touch the side of one, which shouldn’t be at all tacky.
Once they have a skin formed, place in a 290*F oven for 15 Min. on the middle rack. Do not open the oven until done!!!
Once pulled from the oven let fully cool. When they are cooled they can be released from the parchment by a small offset spatula, carefully.
Mix the buttercream in a mixer, adding all the ingredients except the milk. Only using the milk to improve consistency as needed. Then fill it in a piping bag with a #2 round tip.
Carefully fill cooled cookie halves with buttercream.
Sandwich the cookie halves with the other sides, being careful not to crack the shells.
Enjoy!!! I feel the slight bitter left in the flour really goes well in these macarons. They are such a sweet cookie and it really helps to balance them. If nothing else, it is another way to present a cookie that is already over the top!!!