You understand, right? That obsessed people can’t help themselves? There you have it, macarons again. :D
I was inspired by Jen’s breathtaking strawberry macarons and being a roasted strawberries addict I ended up adding them to the filling. The shells, on the other hand, have just a hint of vanilla, to let the filling shine through, but their smell while baking was so intense (and good) that even the hubby – the one who doesn’t like sweets – asked what was in the oven. :)
Vanilla bean macarons with roasted strawberry buttercream
shells adapted from here, filling from here and here
150g almond meal
150g confectioners’ sugar
120g egg whites (room temperature)
185g granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, scraped seeds only – I used 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
16 strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup (67g) caster sugar
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
2 large egg whites
1 ½ sticks (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
roasted strawberries, without the syrup and processed into a paste
You will need 2-3 baking sheets for these , depending on how closely you pipe them; make sure you use good quality aluminum pans – if they’re too thin, the macarons might crack on top. I followed Ms. Humble’s tip and double layered the pans. I also used baking paper, this baking mat and this one and got the best results with the teflon one.
Prep a large pastry bag with a #11 Ateco tip (or a similar medium sized round tip, little under 1cm) – I did not use a tip, I just cut the tip of the pastry bag. Pre-heat your oven to 160-162°C (320-325°F) – I wouldn’t recommend making macarons with an oven thermometer.
You will need a candy thermometer for this method, as it will require bringing the sugar syrup to a precise temperature. Half of the whites I used had been in the fridge for 4 days (and had been previously frozen for 2 weeks) and half was from fresh eggs.
Weigh out your confectioners’ sugar and almond meal and give them a whirl for a minute, pulsing in a food processor. Pour the almond/sugar mixture into a large bowl, add the vanilla seeds and set aside.
Weigh out 60g of egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer (make sure the whites are yolk free and your mixer's bowl and whisk attachment are very clean and free of any traces of oil). Also measure out 35g of granulated sugar into a small bowl and set it near the mixer.
Weigh out another 60g of egg whites into a small bowl and set aside.
Weigh out 150g of the granulated sugar into a small sauce pan. Add 50g of water to the sugar, attach your candy thermometer and place it over medium heat – use a very small saucepan so its tip will be immersed in the syrup.
When the sugar hits 87°C/190°F, start beating the egg whites in your mixer on medium low speed until foamy, while keeping a close eye on the sugar syrup. No need to stir the syrup, just let it come to a boil over medium heat (you're aiming for 110°C/230°F). Once the eggs are foamy, slowly add the 35g of sugar and beat to soft peaks on medium speed.
When your sugar mixture hits 110°C/230°F pull it off the heat, increase the speed of your mixer to medium high, and slowly pour in the syrup. You want to let the mixture trickle down the side of the bowl, so it doesn't splatter and get tossed onto the sides of the bowl. You want the sugar in your meringue, not a candy coated bowl.
Now you can relax, the hard part is over. Allow the mixer to beat the meringue for about 5-8 minutes until cool.
While waiting for your meringue to cool, combine the remaining 60g of egg whites with the sugar/almond mixture and mix until well combined.
Once the meringue is ready, add it to the almond/sugar mixture and quickly fold it together. You should fold until it is just barely uniform, using as few strokes as possible. It is very, very important you don't over mix as the batter will thin considerably with each stroke of the spatula. Your batter is perfect when you lift your spatula and a thick ribbon slowly cascades off, back into the bowl.
Now you're ready to fill your piping bag. If the mixture is just right, it will ooze from the tip slowly under its own weight. (If it oozes out quickly, something went horribly wrong and you'll need to start over.)
Pipe 3cm macarons onto your prepared baking sheets, spacing them a few centimeters apart.
Once you complete a full pan, knock it on the counter gently, to bring up any bubbles and quickly pop them with toothpick (I forgot to do that).
Allow the macarons to rest like this for 15 minutes. (They can sit longer if you want to bake one or two sheets at a time, but will develop slightly thicker shells)
Bake at 160-162°C/320-325°F for 14 minutes (I baked mine for 17).
Once done, remove from the pans using the silicone baking mat and allow to cool completely (about an hour) before carefully attempting to remove them from the mat. If you're having trouble even after an hour, pop the sheet into the freezer for about 5 minutes and they should pop off easily.
Now, the filling: preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. To make the roasted strawberries, place them in a small baking dish (do not use a shallow dish because the juices will bubble away in the oven) and sprinkle with the sugar. Mix well and roast for 10-15 minutes or until the strawberries are soft and syrupy. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Buttercream: put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Add the processed strawberries to the buttercream and fold with a spatula until fully incorporated. If not using right away, refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 1 month.
Fill a piping bag with the buttercream and use to sandwich your macarons.
To store, keep the shells in an air tight container. Fill before serving.
Makes about 50 macarons (already filled)