Orange Flower Water with Vanilla Bean Buttercream filling
Lavender Vanilla Rose with Vanilla Bean Buttercream filling
Tomorrow I will meet my friend Kimber at our monthly Prairie Women's Sewing Circle and will begin celebrating her birthday early, she reads my blog so she won't be totally surprised, but of course, I will be bringing more than just macarons!
I decided to try some different flavors this time, orange flower water, or orange blossom and an extract I made of lavender, vanilla and rose. I used a light hand with these flavorings, as too much floral flavor makes them taste like soap, or so my husband says. The filling is a simple vanilla bean butter cream, so as not to distract or overpower the gentle macaron shell.
Macarons are not difficult, this is only the second time I've made them, and as you can see, they turned out pretty good. As with anything, you only get better with practice. Luckily for me I have several friends that love macarons and are more than happy to test!
Here are a few tips that have helped:
1. Aged egg whites - 3 days prior, I cracked my egg whites into a little bowl, covered it, and kept it in the refrigerator until baking day.
2. Room temperature egg whites - several hours before baking, I took out the egg whites to allow to come up to room temp.
3. Sifting the processed almonds and powdered sugar and discarding the 1/2 tsp or so of coarse almonds.
4. Mixing everything correctly - Fold gently until the batter falls in a thick, smooth, satiny ribbon from your rubber spatula. I have read everywhere to be careful not to overmix; only mix 30 strokes, etc etc. Well, hrmph! The lavender ones weren't lavender enough so I added a little more color after I supposedly mixed it correctly and had to mix it a whole bunch more. Guess what? They turned out just fine. I think you can undermix more than you can overmix, but don't get all OCD about it, use your good cook's judgement.
5. Letting them sit for at least 30 minutes before baking - this dries out the surface and helps that ruffley foot form, the sign of well made macaron, and that is our goal. You should be able to touch the surface of one without anything sticking to your finger. They can sit out longer than 30 minutes, but it doesn't help them anymore to leave out over an hour.
6. Letting the filled macarons mature - Put your filled macarons in the refrigerator and let them age for 24-36 hours. This allows the macaron to balance itself, and correct the texure. I don't know all the scientific technical explanations, but its part of what helps your macaron taste like it was made by a professional :)
3/4 c finely ground almonds or almond flour
1 c powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 c bakers sugar (very fine sugar, finer than table sugar but not powdered or confectioner's sugar)
1 tsp floral flavoring (orange flower water or lavender extract)
food color (1 drop each red, yellow for the pale peach) (2 drops each blue, red for the lavender)
Process together the ground almonds and powdered sugar to a very fine powder, sift into a bowl, then set aside.
Whip egg whites, add baker's sugar slowly, add floral flavor, then add food color. Start with one drop of each color and keep adding drop by drop until you are happy with the color. Whip to firm glossy peaks. If you are using a Kitchenaid, this won't take long.
Add 1/3 of almond mixture and with a rubber spatula, fold into the meringue, add next third after fully incorporating, then the last third. Keep folding gently until the mixture falls in a thick, satiny ribbon from your spatula.
Use a large round tip in your pastry bag and fill with meringue mixture. Pipe small circles onto a flat, parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving one inch space between each one. Tap gently on the counter to flatten any bubbles, and let sit for at least 30 minutes, meanwhile, heat your oven to 325 degrees.
Bake one sheet at a time for 9 - 12 minutes. Around the 9 minute mark, check them, they should have formed a foot, touch the top, if they are firm and not wiggley, cook one more minute, then remove sheet from oven, let cool. Do not brown, but only you know your oven, so check them often at the 9 minute mark. When baking the second sheet, keep a close eye on them as the second sheet might cook a little faster and you may have to remove them a minute sooner.
Let them cool on the parchment paper, then gently remove, use an offset spatula if necessary. Let them cool completely before filling. The unfilled shells can be frozen! Then you can magically produce macarons anytime to the amazement of your family and friends.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream Filling
1 vanilla bean's worth of scraped vanilla seeds
1 stick butter, softened, room temp
vanilla extra if desired
pinch of salt
Split and scrape down the length of a vanilla bean, put the seeds in mixing bowl. Add butter and pinch salt and cream together, slowly add powdered sugar, and whip until fluffy. Taste and add vanilla extract, this just smooths and rounds out the flavor. Keep adding sugar until the filling is to the consistency you like. Spoon into a pastry bag, and pipe onto wrong side of macaron shell, top with another shell.
Let your filled macarons mature in the refrigerator. I usually allow the filling to set, then put them in whatever container I am gifting them in, and stow in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
Allow chilled macarons to come up to room tempurature before eating. Or not, if you can't wait :)