Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pink Lemonade Macarons

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you're all having a really good one.

I'm not one of those people who gets so super into the holiday, but I'm also not a crazed hater of it either.  It's a great excuse to bust out your red food coloring, and go nuts with the decorating, so it can't be all bad.  But I don't believe in doing something over the top romantic just because the greeting card companies want to boost their sales, either.

So we find a happy medium.  We bake delicious little treats, tell our friends and family we love them, slap on a dress and go out for a nice dinner.  Sure, maybe I bring in little treats all the time, maybe every single text to my parents ends in "I love you", maybe I still wore ugg boots and leggings under my dress, and maybe we went to the sushi place we always go to.

But that's ok.

Because these macarons are fancy.  Fancy enough that we could have worn sweatpants and drank beer on the couch watching the golf channel today and it would have all evened out.

As with most French things I make that are anywhere near authentic, Sara helped me out.  So did Amanda, whose Thanksgiving dinner made me want to live in November forever.  It was a lady baking day.  It was so much fun.

Macarons (most of us 'mericans call them macarooooons, but the Frenchies call them macarohn) are very temperamental.  Basically they are these delicate crackly shells sandwiching some delicious soft Swiss buttercream.  Don't know what Swiss buttercream is?  Yeah neither did I.

Egg whites.  That's right.  Whipping them into stiff peaks.  All over this recipe.


Pink Lemonade Macarons
(Thanks Sara and Amanda!  These measurements are in grams, so bust out your digi-scale and I'm sorry.)


3 egg whites (or 100g)
3 1/2 Tbsp white sugar (45g)
100g almond flour
200g powdered sugar
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp red food coloring

Combine egg whites and white sugar.  Whisk, starting low and gradually increasing speed until very stiff peaks form.  This means that most of the egg whites should stick in the whisk when you turn off the mixer.  Add 1/2 tsp lemon extract and whisk that in as well.

Sift together (twice) the almond flour and powdered sugar.  Fold flour mixture into the egg whites, careful not to over-fold.  Add 1/2 tsp red food coloring and just barely mix together.  

Spoon batter into a piping bag and pipe nickel-sized circles onto a sil-pat lined baking sheet, spread about 1.5 inches apart.  Once your sheet is full of tiny circles, lift it 4 inches off the counter and drop it onto the counter about 4 times, rotate 180 degrees, and four more times.  You're trying to get the tiny bubbles in the cookies to pop.

Allow your cookies to sit out on the counter about 1 hour, or until they have hardened somewhat into shells.  If you poke one lightly with your finger, no batter should come away.  This is where these cookies get temperamental...depending on geographic location, time of year, temperature, and humidity, this could take longer than an hour.

Once the shells have formed, preheat your oven to 300.  Place in middle rack and bake for 10-15 minutes.  Don't let cookies brown.  Once your cookies have started to develop "feet", or rather, a thin ribbon of solid cookie-stuff is forming where your cookie touches the pan, with a bubbly in-between layer between the "foot ribbon" and the shell top, you're there.

Allow the cookies to cool for about 15-20 minutes on the pan before trying to remove them to a wire cooling rack.  Do so very carefully.  The underside of your cookies should be soft and indentable, but not gooey.

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 stick of butter, cubed
1 cup powdered sugar
4 drops yellow food coloring 

Place egg whites and sugar in a double boiler.  Whisk often while warming over a double boiler until 150 degree temperature is reached, or if until the sugar has dissolved.  If you stick your finger in and rub it between your index finger and thumb, it shouldn't feel grainy anymore.

Whisk in bowl of a stand mixer until very stiff peaks form again, or until it's all stuck in the whisk.  Add in lemon extract, butter, powdered sugar, and yellow food coloring and mix together. 

Spoon into a piping bag and pipe a spiral onto the bottom of one cookie, topping with another.  Allow to set.  These taste best the second day.

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