We went through a bout of rain and that has hold off my macaron-making for much longer time than I would have liked.
You know how much macarons can be so sensitive to the humidity that comes along with the rain.
Luckily, I managed to find a spot of sunshine amidst a rainy week. And I began to rekindle my affair with my forgotten love…
This time, I decided to let the colour decide the flavour; though flavour usually takes precedence over colour for me on all other occasions. I wanted to make something bright and cheerful to bring some light to chase away the dark and gloomy days we have been experiencing.
I picked the colour red and went with red velvet flavour because it was the first thing that pops up in mind; also, I can’t think of anyone who would fault a red velvet macaron.
I think they turned out pretty well; I loved how they looked and tasted. The vanilla-flavoured cream cheese filling was luscious, smooth, creamy – a subtle flavour with nothing overpowering.
It’s almost like eating ice cream sandwiched between two little chewy almond biscuits. Pretty lovely, if you ask me.
Every time J walk past the fridge, he would casually pop one or two in his mouth, almost eating them like chocolate . By the end of the day, I think he single-handedly ate ten or maybe even twelve. That’s a lot of macarons for one person.
When I quizzed him about it, he retorted that they were really small. I then reminded him that he ate up $30 worth of macarons in one day.
All he could muster was a sheepish grin before popping another into his mouth.
These red velvet macarons are made using the French meringue method (no need to cook your sugar). I would probably include a step-by-step tutorial soon (hopefully). The cream cheese filling is mildly sweet with hints of aromatic vanilla running through it. You can adjust the icing sugar levels to your own preference. I have to warn you that these are highly addictive. Keep them away from both children and adults if you are making these for a special occasion.
Macaron shells (French meringue method)
260g ground almond meal
260g icing sugar
200g egg whites, aged if possible, at room temperature
pinch of cream of tar tar
240g caster sugar
a few drops of wilton paste colour, red in this case
- Prepare your baking trays: Place baking parchment on trays.
- Process the almond meal in a food processor. Then, dry the ground almond meal in a 100 degrees celcius oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until it doesn’t clump together when pressed between two fingers.
- Sift together the ground almond meal and icing sugar.
- Make a french meringue: begin by whisking the egg whites in a clean, grease-free mixer bowl at low speed. Add in the cream of tar tar when the egg whites turn foamy.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk until soft peaks before adding the caster sugar gradually.
- When all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and whisk until stiff and glossy peaks. You will know when it’s ready if you lift the whisk and the mixture is firm and doesn’t droop. (see picture above)
- Add in 1/4 of the meringue mixture as well as the wilton colour paste to your almond meal and icing sugar mixture. Fold them together. You do not have to be too careful about knocking the air out at this point. What you want is to lighten the mixture to a similar consistency as the meringue so it is easier to fold through the rest of the meringue.
- Add in the remaining 3/4 of the meringue and fold gently to incorporate.
- When it is well-combined, smear the mixture against the sides of the bowl with your spatula to achieve macaronage. This should be done about 10- 12 times to achieve a smooth, glossy mixture, without holding peaks. When you lift your spatula, the mixture should fall in about 5-6 seconds. The consistency should be similar to your choux pastry mixture.
- When it is done, fill the macaron mixture into a piping bag with plain nozzle size 8 or 10 and pipe the macaron shells onto a baking sheet. Try to pipe them as evenly as possible and leave about 1/2 inch gap in between the macarons. The mixture will spread a little.
- After piping the macaron shells, rap the tray against the kitchen counter a couple of times. This will help the pied (or foot) of the macarons to form.
- Let the macarons rest for about 30-45 minutes in an air-conditioned environment until they have form a skin and the batter does not stick to your fingers when you touch it.
- Bake in a preheated oven on the center rack at 165 degrees celcius for about 15 minutes and allow it to dry in the oven, with the oven door slightly ajar for 2-3 minutes. The macaron shells are ready when the bases are dry. You can try lifting one shell out to test, it shouldn’t stick to the baking parchment.
- Allow the macaron shells to cool on its baking tray before attempting to peel them off the baking sheet. They would release themselves more easily after they are cooled.
*Note: I have changed the temperature of drying out the almond meal (from my last recipe) because I find that this increase in temperature dries it out more especially useful in a humid climate. I have also allowed them to dry out longer. You can use a spatula to toss them around to make sure they dry evenly and not burn. Just make sure that the almond meal doesn’t change in colour ie. go golden brown/dark brown. This would cause the almond meal to give out its own oil and the macarons would work in this situation.
Vanilla cream cheese filling
Fills 70 macarons
300g full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
150g unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
250g icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-tbsp milk, to thin it down if necessary
1. Begin with cream cheese at room temperature. Start by putting the cream cheese in a mixer bowl and beat it slowly(you are not whisking air into it) with a paddle attachment until it is smooth and creamy.
2. Add in the room temperature unsalted butter and beat at low-medium speed until smooth and well incorporated with the cream cheese.
3. Add in the icing sugar(sifted) and vanilla extract and beat at medium speed until silky, smooth. If you think that frosting is too thick at this stage, add in milk, a tbsp at a time, to thin it down to the consistency you flavour. It should be of piping consistency.
- Pair up similar sized macaron shells together before you begin piping the filling.
- Using a plain nozzle size no 8 or 10, pipe the cream cheese frosting in the centre of one of the macaron shells. Place the second shell on top of it and twist it gently until the filling comes right to the edges of the macaron.
- Place it into the fridge to allow the macarons to mature at least 24 hours before consuming. This maturation process is important for the macaron shells to absorb the flavours and moisture from the filling giving it a nice chewy center.
* Finish the matured macarons within a few days, otherwise the shell will be too soft.