Tell me…why did I decide to do this again? After two tries with these delicate French treats that were less than totally successful, I’m wondering that right now. Hours to get them done, half of them broken to bits and the end result is something like 6 (yes SIX!) cookies!
I guess the answer also partly lies in those words. I proudly accept that I’m tenacious (such a better word than stubborn isn’t it?) so there’s that but I don’t doubt for a moment that the camaraderie of people going through the same turmoil makes it much more fun. Hearing cries of “I’ve got feet” on Twitter from my fellow MacAholics from MacTweets always makes me happy but I’m remembering the day I didn’t know what that meant. I felt real anguish for someone that I didn’t know because, well, of course I assumed she had been without feet and I was feeling both sad and elated for her. Knowing now that those cries are significant when a baker has a macaron result with an adorable fringe around the bottom always brings a sense of relief without the attendant sadness!
I decided to make Boysenberry Macarons because I wanted the filling to be purple. My sister had sent me some Lavendar sugar for Christmas and I wanted to use it. I’m not sure I have EVER made a lavender food item, but colorful Macarons are the norm and it was perfect.
One of my biggest problems has been finding the right recipe. These are treats that originated in France and most recipes are written in grams; a measurement that is foreign for many Americans who are stubborn about our cups and ounces. It’s not hard to convert but conversions can bring very strange results indeed; 6/7 of a cup is wrong…it’s just wrong! I’ve now configured a basic recipe that has worked with American standard measures but I’m still got some work to do; I think the top should be taller (but, seriously, not complaining, really).
Every attempt to make this delicate cookie is always met with those 25 minutes of waiting to open the oven door to discover whether the illusive ‘feet’ have appeared, that little ruffled border on the bottom. We are pathetic in our quest for that illusive little ruffled border…can’t you hear me now? “I’ve got feet.” I might have done a little happy dance even but there will be no photographic recordings of that moment to share!
Only just ‘sort of’ pleased with the end result there is apparently for me no end to the DRAMA!! The last time I made them, I used the silicone baking liner shown above to keep them from sticking and it worked fine. Today I had a greater quantity of the meringue mixture so I had one baking sheet line with the silpat and the other with parchment paper. The parchment paper ones came off easily after the five minute wait but the ones on the silpat? Disaster. I rescued TWO of them…my dogs were delighted to help with the results but what a mess! OK, got it…lesson learned. I’m not sure these cookies are for me…the effort is just not worth the lack of results. Am I a quitter? What can I say…UNCLE!!
Boysenberry Buttercream Macarons
For the Macaron Shells
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature (sit out for 3-4 days prior to making for best results)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 4 oz. almond flour (I bought mine ground from Vitamin Cottage, but you can grind your own blanched almonds)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Food Coloring (optional)
For the Buttercream Filling
- Buttercream Filling - this makes a lot but I like having some leftover for graham crackers, so adjust as necessary
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1 lb package of confectioner's sugar (approx 4 3/4 cups)
- Light cream as required up to 1/4 cup
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup Boysenberry Preserves, melted, whisked smooth and cooled (substitute a preserve of your choice too)
To Make the Macarons:
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
- Sift powdered sugar, then whisk together with almond flour. Set aside.
- Whip egg whips till foamy then add the salt and sugar.
- Beat whites until glossy peaks form, do NOT beat to stiff peaks.
- Sprinkle half of the almond-sugar mixture over the eggs, and fold in quickly with as little strokes as possible.
- Add the vanilla and the rest of the almond-sugar mixture, and food coloring if using. Fold in until just combined. I use paste food colors so found it worked best to remove a small amount of the meringue, color it heavily and then fold it back in with the rest of the mixture.
- This should take less than 40 strokes. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a clean tip, and pipe ¾ to 1 ½ inch macarons, depending on desired size.
- Sprinkle with decorations if using; only decorate one half as the other half will be bottoms.
- Let piped macarons rest at room temperature for 30 minutes so that an outer shell forms on the meringue.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- After the batter has rested and the outside is firm to the touch, bake the macarons for 20-25 minutes, or until dry. Remove from oven, let cool on the parchment for five minutes, then remove and let cool completely before filling.
To Make the Filling and Assemble:
- Cream butter; gradually add about half of the sugar, blending well. Beat in 2 Tbsp of the cream and vanilla.
- Gradually blend in remaining sugar and melted preserves. Add more cream if necessary for desired consistency. Should be very firm.
- Pipe filling onto one meringue, top with decorated half.