Saturday, May 27, 2017

Red Velvet Macarons

Had some extra egg whites after making these cherry blossom butter cookies from JustOneCookbook, as well as some left over cream cheese from another recipe so decided to try making macarons again.  It's been a while since I've felt like I made a completely successful batch so I've avoided making them for months.  This time around, I decided to make it in smaller batches so I used the French meringue method, whipping it by hand (just granulated sugar slowly added to the egg whites) rather than deal with making a hot sugar syrup since the amount was so small.  Also, big learning point of the day was that it helps to have an oven thermometer.  Turns out one of the main reasons for my past failures was because my oven temperature was much lower than what I thought it was, which lead to undercooked shells that were hollow and stuck both to the silicone baking sheets as well as parchment paper.  I ended up making 3 batches of these this week just to make sure, each time setting my oven temp higher than was indicated in the original recipe to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and sure enough it worked!  The temperature I'm listing here is what the recipe should be at - however, depending on your own oven, you may need to adjust it higher or lower if your oven's temperature is inaccurate.  For some recipes, having an off temperature don't matter as much, but in the case of macaron shells, it definitely makes a difference!

Red Velvet Macarons

Adapted from Jessica Segarra for Dixie Crystals
Makes 10-12 macarons


For macaron shells
- 53g almond flour
- 65g powdered sugar
- 4g (1/2TB) cocoa powder (I used dutch process cocoa because I prefer the taste)
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp red gel food coloring
- 45g egg whites (roughly the amount from one extra large egg)
- 32g baker's sugar (aka superfine sugar - same as granulated sugar but ground finer)

For cream cheese filling
- 85g cream cheese, softened
- 28g butter, softened
- 90g powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Special Equipment
- parchment paper or silicone baking mat (I used this silicone mat that I bought from Amazon, which has a template printed on already)
- 2 piping bags fitted with a size 10 or 12 round tip
- food processor or sifter

Line a half-sheet size baking tray with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  Make sure to use a kitchen scale to measure out ingredients.

Combine almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder in food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds to thoroughly combine and break up any lumps or large chunks of almond flour.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.  Gradually add granulated sugar and continue whisking until you have firm peaks.  Add red gel food coloring and continue beating until meringue is glossy, stiff, and the color is evenly distributed.

Gently fold in dry ingredients with a rubber spatula, giving the bowl a quarter turn each fold.  Continue folding until you reach ribbon stage (the batter should fall from the spatula in a "ribbon" and gradually flatten/disappear back into rest of batter after 10-20 seconds).

Transfer the batter to the piping bag and pipe 1" to 1.5" circles on to your parchment or baking mat, making sure to leave about 1" between shells as they will spread a bit.  When you are done piping, tap the tray sharply against the counter a few times to release any large air bubbles and smooth out pointy parts on the top part of the shell.  Don't worry if they aren't super smooth at first glance - as they rest, they should spread out a bit and any uneven parts should flatten out over time if the batter was properly mixed.

Preheat oven to 285°F.  Rest macarons for 15-30 minutes until a "skin" forms on your shell, where if you gently touch the macaron batter it will not stick to your finger (actual amount of time will vary greatly depending on humidity/temperature of your kitchen).  I sometimes turn on the AC to help speed this up but make sure that the tray is not near a vent as the fan could blow against the batter and make for lopsided shells.

When the macarons are dry to the touch, bake them for about 16 to 18 minutes.  I start checking around 16 minutes and sometimes let it go for another minute or two since I tend to pipe closer to 1.5" shells.  To test, I take the tray out and gently nudge the feet to see if they are still soft - if they are firm then it's usually fine, and see if there's a lot of wiggle in the top of the shell.  If there is, I pop it back in for another minute or two.

Once the shells are done, remove them from the oven and carefully slide a cooling rack underneath the parchment or baking mat so that they do not continue cooking on the hot baking sheet.  After a few minutes, I like to flip the mat over and continue cooling the shells upside down on the baking rack, which makes it easier to remove the shells after.

While the shells are cooling, make the cream cheese filling.  Beat together the softened cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth.  Add vanilla extract and continue beating until incorporated.  Gradually add in powdered sugar until everything is combined.

Fill piping bag with cream cheese filling and pipe onto half of the macaron shells.  Sandwich the filling with the other half of the shells.  Macarons are best after resting for a day so store them in an airtight container in the fridge overnight before eating (let them sit out of fridge for a bit before serving the next day).  In an airtight container in fridge, they are good for several days.  They can also be frozen for at least a month - just let them defrost for about 20 minutes on counter when you take them out.  Enjoy! (^_^)v

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