Strawberry Macarons, 2 Ways
A few weeks ago, I had a baking date with my friend Carissa to assist her in her foray into Macaron-making. This counts as my 4th attempt at this tricky little cookie, each to various degrees of success.
For this attempt, we started with the base recipe from I Love Macarons, which I attribute to my most successful outcome. We decided to make our shells strawberry flavored and a lovely shade of pink, and we each filled them with a different filling. I whipped up some delicious lemon curd infused with a little fresh thyme from my tiny garden, and Carissa filled her macarons with a rich dark chocolate ganache.
Despite this being my 4th go-around at macaron-making, this was such a learning experience! I don’t know if it was the nice weather, the fact that I had a co-baker with me, or just an uncharacteristic amount of patience I possessed that day, but as we baked each batch of shells, we really played around tweaking different elements to get just the right texture. Its actually pretty important to do this because of a few factors. First off, the climate does affect the way the shells bake, and they can be very sensitive to humidity. Secondly, everyone’s oven is going to vary slightly. Now, understandably if you do something during the macoronage stage that affects the texture of the shell, sometimes you’re just out of luck. Its a good rule of thumb to just remind yourself that its better to under-mix than to over-mix when folding your dry ingredients into the egg white mixture. However, not all hope is lost! Since you must bake your shells one tray at a time, you can do things like lower the temperature by 5 degrees but increase the cook time by a couple minutes. See how your next batch turns out, and adjust some more. We found this was they key to getting our macaron shells to go from browned but raw on the inside, to that perfect smooth and crisp shell with a chewy center!
While we baked we frequently referred back to this amazing troubleshooting guide from Food Nouveau that I highly recommend!!
Strawberry Macaron Shells
- 1 1/3 cup almond flour
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 6 large egg whites, left out, uncovered overnight
- ½ Cup + 2 TBSP granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp strawberry extract
- Pink gel food coloring
Stack two baking sheets on top of one another, and line the top one with parchment paper. Have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready. Using a pencil, draw 1-inch circles approximately 1-inch apart on your parchment paper. Or you can do as we did, and print out one of these handy templates from Food Nouveau! Just be sure to slide the templates out from under your parchment after you pipe your batter!
In a food processor, blend the almond flour and powdered sugar until well incorporated.
In a stainless-steel bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs whites on high speed until they are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, strawberry extract and your food coloring (just a little teeny bit at a time until you’ve reached the desired shade) to the egg whites and continue to beat until it forms a stiff meringue.
Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture into the meringue in a couple additions. Blend by scopping batter up from the bottom and pressing it against the sides of the bowl. Do this a few times until well incorporated.
Fill pastry bag with the batter and carefully dispense into your drawn circles. Once the tray is filled, rap the baking sheet on the counter to help settle the batter. Top your shells with a sprinkle of dried thyme if you’re filling them with the lemon curd. Let tray sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes so that a slight crust forms on each shell.
Bake at 325 F for 10-13 minutes (yes, you will put the stacked trays in the oven together), until the shells are slightly crisp on top. They should not be browned. Allow to cool before removing from the trays. Repeat, one batch at a time until you’ve used up the batter. Again, refer to the troubleshooting guide if your first batch isn’t turning out properly – there may be something you can adjust!
Dark Chocolate Ganache (from Chow.com)
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), at room temperature and cut into cubes
Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Stir it into the chocolate without creating bubbles. Let sit for 1 minute. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until thickened but still spreadable, about 30 minutes.
Lemon Thyme Curd (from Epicurious)
- 4 large eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
- Pinch of salt
Pour water to depth of 1 inch into bottom of a double boiler over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer. Whisk eggs and egg yolks in top of double boiler off of heat; whisk in sugar and next 3 ingredients. Scrape out vanilla bean seeds into egg mixture, and whisk until blended. Place top of double boiler over simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, 10 minutes or until mixture thickens.
Remove top of double boiler from simmering water, and add butter and salt, whisking until butter is melted. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to achieve a smooth texture and remove the pieces of thyme. Place plastic wrap directly on warm curd (to prevent a film from forming), and chill 8 hours.
Pair your cooled macaron shells into like sizes. Fill a piping bag fitted with a wide, round tip with the filling of your choice, or you can just spread your filling carefully using a dull knife or spoon. Carefully pipe/spread filling onto the flat side of one shell, leaving about 3mm space from the edges. Pick up your filled shell and its empty pair, and place them together, gently twisting as you press.
Store your macarons in the refrigerator. Enjoy!!