A few weeks ago I admitted my far-off dream of owning a bakery and challenging myself with new recipes. So let me preface this: macarons are not for the faint of heart. For Christmas my brother gave me a beautiful baking set with all the required gizmos (but the recipe I followed doesn’t require them so you can do without). Knowing they were a bit labor-intensive, I had to plan ahead to experiment. And there’s no better time than Valentine’s Day to attempt this delicate French treat. As I’ve probably mentioned before, E has a love affair with all things red velvet so that was the natural first choice. Next time I hope to get rid of all those air bubbles and smooth out the tops for a more polished look. See full recipe below.
Red Velvet Macarons:
2 1/2 oz (71 g or about 2 large) egg whites (ounces measured by weight, not volume)
4 oz (114 g or 1 cup) powdered sugar (also called confectioner’s, icing, or 10X sugar)
2 oz (57 g or 1/2 cup) almond meal/flour
1/4 oz (6 g or 1 tablespoon) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pinch fine salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon liquid red food color
1 1/2 oz (43 g or 3 tablespoons) superfine (castor) sugar
Cream Cheese Buttercream:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 oz (227g or 1/2 lb) powdered sugar
Instructions for Macarons:
Step 1: Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper or silpat liners.
Step 2: Fill a bowl with hot water from the faucet (it should be about 105F); put the eggs in the water and let them sit until they come to room temperature. (Check them and turn them over every few minutes so they can come up to temperature on both sides. They’re ready when they don’t feel hot or cold to the touch. You may need to add more hot water if they’re not warming up fast enough.) Once the eggs are the right temperature, remove them from the water and dry them off. Separate the yolks from the whites, measuring 2 1/2 oz egg whites for this recipe (you don’t need the yolks for this recipe).
Step 3: In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together the powdered sugar, almond meal, cocoa powder, and salt (or you can pulse it together a few times in a food processor).
Step 4: Put the egg whites in a medium bowl and use a handheld electric mixer to whip. When the egg whites are foamy (this should only take a few seconds), gradually add the superfine sugar while still beating. When you have stiff, glossy peaks, beat in the vanilla extract and red food color.
Step 5: Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the almond meal mixture into the egg whites. Only fold the batter in one direction by sliding the spatula into the center of the batter, then lifting it up and letting the batter fall back onto itself. It generally takes about 50 strokes to work the batter, but this number isn’t as important as how the batter looks. The batter is ready to pipe when it has a smooth, shiny surface and flows like lava in one large ribbon off the spatula. Here is an easy way to see if the batter is ready: use a rubber spatula to lift and drop the batter onto itself; if the ribbon gradually disappears into the batter within 30 seconds, it’s ready to go.
Step 6: Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip (1/2 inch in diameter); hold the piping bag straight (i.e., at a 90 degree angle) above baking sheet and pipe 1-inch circles onto the prepared sheet. (You should get about 40 macarons.) Leave about 1 inch between each macaron. Tap each tray a couple times on the countertop to help flatten out the macarons and get rid of any air bubbles. The macarons should not have points on top.
Step 7: Let the macarons sit at room temperature until they form a shell that’s dry to the touch (this could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours or more, depending on the weather).
Step 8: Once the macarons are dry to the touch, preheat oven to 300F; once up to temperature, bake both trays at the same time for 10 to 20 minutes, rotating trays once. Let the macarons cool completely on parchment paper or silpat liner before removing.
Step 9: To fill the macarons, pair up similar sized cookies. Pipe filling onto the bottom of one macaron, and then place the matching macaron on top of filling.
Step 10: Line an airtight lidded container with parchment paper and carefully arrange the macarons inside; let them sit in the fridge for a day or 2 (or up to a couple weeks) before eating. Let the cookies sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes before serving.
Instructions for Buttercream:
Use a handheld electric mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla; add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.