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Happy Macs

February 6, 2010

I love making macarons. Seriously. Now that I am comfortable with the process and have a few successes under my belt, I just really love it. Plus, the end result is so very tasty.

My latest macaron making adventure was inspired by MacTweets, which has issued a Valentine’s Day theme for this round of macarons. When I think of Valentines, I think of pink and red hues, so I decided to run with those colors and see what would happen.

A sweet treat for your Valentine!

For this challenge I ditched the ground almond meal from Trader Joe’s that I have been using, as it contains the almond skins. While the skins don’t affect the overall taste of the macs, it definitely creates a different look. Instead I used blanched raw almonds, ground them myself with a bit of the requisite powdered sugar, and strained out large pieces. However, I didn’t strain it to only include the powder. My macs still had a little texture to them.

Once my macaron batter was prepared, I separated it into two bowls so that I could add all-natural food coloring to one of the bowls. The result was a white macaron batter and a pretty pink macaron batter. However, strangely enough, when the macs baked, all the shells looked very much the same. Beige and pinky beige. After I took them off the sheet pans and mixed them together, I could honestly no longer tell which had food coloring. So, I will be trying that again, with more food coloring, I guess.

This left me with only the filling to color. I had in mind some kind of raspberry puree or jam for the middle layer, but I wasn’t quite sure how to pull it off. Truth be known, I was being too lazy to go online and find a suitable recipe. So, I simple blended together puree from my freezer, some powdered sugar and salt. Lots of salt. Too much salt. The macarons that resulted looked, in my husband’s opinion, like tiny candy hamburgers. You be the judge.

These are real macarons, not gummi hamburgers!

Having ganache in my fridge at all times, I resorted to putting that in some of the macarons, but I will declare here and now that I do not prefer dark chocolate in my plain macarons. It overpowers the delicate almond flavor of the pastry. While I will eat chocolate any other time, I will no longer fill my macs with it. Unless of course they are dark chocolate cocoa macarons or somesuch thing.

This left me with one option. I had a little dollop of cream cheese frosting left over from a batch of cinnamon rolls made about a week or so before I made the macarons. I added a few drops of the raspberry puree to that and came away with a lovely, tangy filling which interplayed nicely with the almond macaron. It was neither too sweet nor too fruity. And, in the spirit of all that is Valentine’s Day, it was a lovely light shade of pink (not at all reminiscent of hamburger meat!)

macaron with raspberry cream cheese filling

Here are several things I pondered in my baking and filling.

  1. The drier the batter, the more proper the feet. My batter, especially with the food coloring, was a little on the loose side, resulting in my wildly splayed “feet.” I will work toward reducing the wet ingredients in my next batch to address this.
  2. Undercooked macarons leave a dome shape to be filled with extra filling (if you want it to press out nicely along the edges of the feet). This can result in TOO MUCH FILLING. A small schmear is called for, nothing more.
  3. I prefer a salty filling, but my first attempt at a salty raspberry filling was overboard. Without the balancing addition of salt, macarons can be just too sweet. I’m shooting for a salted caramel filling for the next go round, but that will also depend on the MacTweets challenge.
  4. I went back to whipping the egg whites with my stick blender (whip attachment) and this worked just fine. I started with the whisk turned off, and hand-whipped for 30 seconds to break up the whites and start incorporating air. Then I turned the blender on and ended up with a suitably whipped egg white.

Can’t wait for the next installment. For more luscious looking macarons, visit the MacTweets website!

Oh, and as always, remember to visit TasteStopping to see what rejected photos we publish next! Better yet, submit your own photos (rejected or fresh content to the Drive-Thru).

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2010 6:31 pm

    Nice job!

  2. February 6, 2010 10:04 pm

    Casey, you amaze me. The mac-passion flows with your love for these finicky creatures. Beautifully executed. I’ve read your points with great interest My macs make me weep often, and I’ve yet to sail in blindly & bake a perfect batch!
    I was out of dark chocolate this time, so I used a milk chocolate ganache with 1 tbsp of Nutella added to it. Can say it tasted awesome good. This is the first time I preferred milk chocolate to dark!
    Thank you for joining us, and I have to add, I love your pictures. Very nice!!

  3. February 7, 2010 5:17 am

    I am so glad that you love mac making so much. That means we’ll be seeing wonderful macs for months and months to come! And these are so lovely! Bah on husband for calling them MacBurgers! The colors are very romantic and very Valentine’s Day. I love the filling flavors! Beautiful! You’ve now put me in the Mac Valentine’s mood to make mine!

  4. February 10, 2010 6:04 pm

    Your macs look like little pillows of heaven. I love the contrast of pink wih beige and all of your filling attempts sound awesome. Nicely done!

  5. February 12, 2010 11:58 pm

    Great job Casey, these look utterly adorable. I love the pink and light contrasts. Funnily enough, I’m the opposite, I quite like dark choc ganache in the macaron because I ifnd it helps to cut the sweetness a bit. But I do agree that it only really works if there is some sort of flavour to play off the chocolate.

    I can see how your little macs do look a bit like those gummi hamburgers – but that just makes them cuter :)

  6. February 17, 2010 12:46 pm

    So funny, my husband made the same comment about my mac’s “tiny hamburgers”- your macs are beautiful and I’m sure tasted wonderful.

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