Strawberry season is here again! ヾ(@°▽°@)ノ I was so happy that I bought an entire flat at the farmers' market this past weekend. AN ENTIRE FLAT. That's 12 whole baskets. I had to ask them to hold it for me while I shopped at the other stalls because I couldn't carry it all while walking around the farmers' market. It's been less than 3 days since the market and we've already consumed more than half of the flat. (*^^*)
I can't wait to make strawberry pie again this year, but in the meantime, I wanted to practice making macarons using the Italian meringue method so I decided to make these strawberry macarons with strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream.
That said, macarons are a huge pain in the butt. HUGE. The ingredients can be pricey, it can take a long time when you are making large batches, there's so many dishes to wash after, and it can all end up being a big flop after all that effort. BUT when they do come out right, it's a glorious sense of accomplishment for me - like TAKE THAT YOU DAMN COOKIE!! I BEAT YOU!!!! (Except, no, you lose since you'll get fat from all the sugar... :P) Anyways, I highly recommend watching some Youtube videos just to see what the texture of the meringue and batter ought to look like and techniques on folding the meringue into the almond meal. It took me a long time to get a feel for it and I still end up with hollows or no feet frequently. Ovens can also be tricky so you may have to play around with your temperature and bake times to find what is ideal for your own oven.
|See this bowl here? This was all I ate for my lunch today. It was beautiful. (*´∀`*)|
Strawberry Macarons with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Shells adapted from Pierre Hermé's basic macaron recipe
Buttercream adapted from Bakes by ChiChi
Makes about 35 1.5"macarons using this template
For macaron shells
- 150g almond meal
- 150g powdered sugar
- 10g freeze dried strawberry powder
- 150g granulated sugar
- 110g egg whites divided in half
- 37g water
- pink gel food coloring (optional)
For strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream
- 1 large egg white (about 43g)
- 71g granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp strawberry extract (or substitute vanilla extract)
- 105g unsalted butter, cubed and slightly softened but still cool
- pinch of salt
- 1/8-1/4 cup strawberry purée
- baking sheets
- silcone baking mats or parchment paper
- piping bags and round tips (size 10 or 12 nozzle)
- electric hand mixer or stand mixer
- kitchen scale
- food processor (optional)
- silicone/rubber spatula
- instant read thermometer or candy thermometer
|Smooth and shiny! ＼（＠￣∇￣＠）／|
Combine almond meal, powdered sugar, and strawberry powder in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds or so to get rid of large lumps. Sift everything into a large bowl, making sure the ingredients are evenly combined (I had to sift twice since some of my strawberry powder was a bit clumped up).
Add 55g (half) of the egg whites to the almond mixture and a few drops of food coloring gel if using. Set aside and do not stir.
In a small pot, combine the water and granulated sugar and heat until 240-244 degrees Fahrenheit. While the sugar syrup is heating, beat the remaining 55g of egg whites to soft peaks on medium speed with a whisk attachment - you want to time it so that the egg whites are at soft peaks by the time the syrup is ready. Once the sugar syrup has reached the right temperature, remove from heat and let the bubbles subside a bit before proceeding.
Once the syrup is ready and the egg whites are at soft peaks, while the mixer is still running, slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Once all the syrup has been poured in, increase speed to high and whip until meringue is shiny and stiff/holds it shape when you lift the whisk.
Fold the meringue into the almond mixture, using a cutting and scraping motion with a spatula, giving the bowl a quarter turn each time. Draw the spatula down the middle of the batter and scrape up from the bottom and turn the bowl as you fold. Continue until you get to a "ribbon consistency" where if you scoop some of the batter up and let it drip down it falls in a cascading ribbon easily and melts back into the rest of the batter after 10 seconds or so. The batter should be smooth and shiny.
Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe 1.5" to 2" circles onto your baking mat or parchment paper, following your template. (Don't forget to remove the template from under the baking mat before putting the tray into the oven!)
Tap the tray sharply several times against the counter to release any air bubbles and help flatten the tops. Let the macarons rest for 15-30 minutes until they dry out a bit and develop a skin on top where you can poke it gently and it won't stick to your finger. (I try to not make macarons when it's too hot inside.) If after they are dry, you still have a few sharp points on your shells, you can gently press them down with your finger (some people wet their finger tips slightly and smooth it while the batter is drying too but there's a danger of accidentally getting the piped shells too wet).
Bake the macarons at 260 degrees for 25 minutes (depending on your oven, you may want to adjust the baking time or temperature). I bake at a lower temperature so that the shells don't get too brown, especially when I use lighter colors or no colors for the shells.
Once the shells are done, remove them from the oven and transfer the entire baking mat or parchment paper off of the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. Let the shells cool completely before trying to remove them from the baking mat. I have found it easier recently to remove the shells by carefully flipping the entire mat over while they are cooling and cooling the macarons upside down, but that's just me. If your shells are made properly they should be easy to remove; if they aren't that easy to remove because of some error, cooling them upside down and removing the baking mat that way can sometimes still salvage them. （*＾＾*)
For the Swiss meringue buttercream, combine the egg white, pinch of salt, and granulated sugar in a medium heat-proof bowl and heat it over a small pot of simmering water, whisking constantly with a hand whisk. When the sugar and egg white mixture has reached 140 degrees Fahrenheit, remove from the heat and use a hand mixer to whisk on medium speed until you get a thick and shiny meringue, and the bowl is cool to the touch (I used the beater attachment as my hand mixer's whisk broke, and it worked fine).
Once the meringue is completely cooled, switch to the beater/paddle attachment if you weren't already using it, and add the cubed butter a few pieces at a time, mixing at low speed. Make sure each addition is completely incorporated before adding the next - it may start to look lumpy and broken but if you continue beating it will smooth out. Finally, add the strawberry extract and strawberry purée and beat until well combined. Be careful about adding too much purée though - even though a Swiss meringue buttercream can handle quite a bit of liquid flavoring added to it, too much can still break it.
Scoop the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round tip (size 10 or 12 at least). Pipe the buttercream onto half the macaron shells and top it with the other half. Normally I pipe a mound in the center of the shell and then smush it down with the top shell and it creates a smooth and even rounded edge of filling, but with this buttercream, I've had an easier time piping an outer circle and then filling in the circle to get the nice round filling look.
Macarons are usually best after resting in the refrigerator overnight. Stored in an air tight container, they can keep well for about a week in the fridge. When serving, make sure to let the macarons sit at room temperature for a bit before enjoying.