Once you begin making macarons, the sandwich cookies quickly become addictive. After a successful first round (see my tips here), I decided to try a flavored version. Freeze dried strawberries (available at Trader Joe’s or online) give the shells an intense strawberry essence without changing the final texture.
To balance the sweet strawberry cookies, I used tangy cream cheese frosting as the filling. I gave a few of the macs a quick roll in pearlized sprinkles to complete the dreamy look (though I’m certain the French would frown on my adornment!). Embellished or not, each bite offers the ultimate taste of strawberries and cream.
Strawberries & Cream Macarons
Adapted from Brave Tart
3/4 ounce freeze dried strawberries
115g almond flour
230g powdered sugar
144g egg whites, at room temperature
2g (1/2 tsp) salt
1 or 2 drops burgundy gel food coloring (optional)
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 280°F and fit a large disposable pastry bag with a round tip. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. On a third sheet of parchment paper, trace out 24 1.5-inch circles (use a round cookie cutter or stencil as a guide), spaced 1 inch apart. Set aside as a master guide.
Process freeze dried strawberries and almond flour in a food processor until finely ground. Use a fine mesh sieve or sifter to sift strawberry-almond flour mixture and powdered sugar together twice; use a firm spatula to push any large particles through. Set aside.
Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a large mixer bowl fitted with wire whip attachment. Whip for 3 minutes on medium speed (4 on a KitchenAid), until egg whites begin to foam. Increase speed to medium-high (7 on a KitchenAid) and whip for 3 minutes, until meringue forms soft peaks. Increase speed to 8 and whip for another 3 minutes. Turn off mixer and add gel food coloring; whip another 1 to 2 minutes on high speed to evenly distribute color until meringue is stiff and dry. The meringue should clump in the center of the wire whip attachment; knock against mixer bowl to release.
Add dry ingredients to meringue all at once. Use a rubber spatula to fold dry mixture into meringue, smearing the mixture against the side of the bowl to knock the air out (you want to deflate the whites, so don’t worry about folding them gently). After 25 folds, your mixture may still look lumpy. Continue to fold about 10 to 12 more times, checking texture after each fold. The batter is ready when it holds its shape when spooned onto itself and slowly flattens out after 15 to 20 seconds. If the batter is stiff and doesn’t flatten out, it’s undermixed. If the batter is runny and fluid, it’s overmixed and won’t hold a shape.
Transfer half the batter to pastry bag. Slide master guide of circles between baking sheet and parchment paper. Hold piping bag vertically and pipe batter to within 1/8″ from the edge of the circle. Carefully remove master guide from underneath piped circles and transfer to second baking sheet, repeating with remaining batter. Remove guide and save for future use. Tap pans sharply on counter; rotate 90 degrees and tap two more times (to deflate air bubbles and prevent cracked shells).
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until you can cleanly peel the parchment paper away from the macaron. Place pans on wire racks and cool completely before removing shells. For the cream cheese frosting, beat butter, cream cheese and salt in a large mixer bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; gradually add powdered sugar 1/3 cup at a time and beat just until smooth.
When ready to assemble, fit a large disposable pastry bag with a round tip and fill with frosting. Pipe about a tablespoon of frosting onto the bottom of half the shells, then sandwich with remaining shells. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to three days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Yield – 64 shells, 32 macarons
Calories – 104 (per macaron)
Carbs – 15