Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Vanilla Bean Strawberry Macarons

These pretty vanilla bean strawberry macarons came about because I had some leftover strawberry buttercream and lots of egg whites from my wedding cake baking extravaganza.

Strawberries and vanilla go so well together. I always add vanilla to the strawberries when I'm flavoring the topping for shortcake or angel food cake.

There is no color added to the macaron shells, just the seeds from one whole vanilla bean. I like the look of seeing the black flecks of the vanilla seeds in the creamy colored shell.

The buttercream is made with fresh strawberries and is not too sweet. I had 1/2 a cup of strawberry buttercream leftover but needed more to fill all the macarons so I added one package of cream cheese and gave it a whip. I didn't add any additional sugar.

Vanilla Bean Strawberry Macarons
180g ground almonds, sifted
270g powdered sugar, sifted
150g egg whites, aged 2 to 4 days in the fridge and then brought to room temperature
100g granulated sugar
Seeds of one whole vanilla bean

Add the vanilla seeds to the granulated sugar and set aside.

Line four heavy baking sheets with good quality parchment paper and set aside. Also, set aside two pastry bags for the piping of the macarons.

Sift together your ground almonds with the powdered sugar and set aside.

Whisk the egg whites (at room temperature) to glossy firm peaks adding the granulated sugar gradually in four parts.

You'll be able to see the vanilla seeds in the egg whites.

Incorporate the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites using a large rubber scraper.  Mix well. 
Fold the mixture with the rubber scraper by pulling down the sides and flipping the mixture over. Do this until you have a smooth mixture that falls like a “ribbon” off the scraper.

Transfer the mixture into the two piping bags. Use rubber bands to close the piping bags. Clip the tip of the bags, one at a time, and pipe small quarter sized rounds, leaving 1-inch of space between each because they spread as they set.

Piped macarons resting before baking.

Leave to set for about 30 minutes or until the top has formed a crust and is not sticky to the touch.
While they are setting, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. A convection oven is preferable. 

Bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven for about 12 minutes or until the cookie is firm, matte and doesn't wobble when touched.
Leave on the baking tray until cool then lift them all off the parchment carefully. You may need to use a thin knife to help lift them off.

Sort into pairs and fill with strawberry filling.

Fresh Strawberry Filling
2 cups diced strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine strawberries and sugar. Cook over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the temperature and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture is thick and the strawberries begin to fall apart. Use a fork to break up the strawberries even more.

Transfer to another bowl and let cool completely. You can refrigerate the berries to speed up the process.

In stand mixer, whip the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the strawberries and vanilla and whip again until fully incorporated. You may need to chill the filling to firm it up before piping between the macarons.

Use a piping bag to fill the macarons. 

Use a piping bag to fill the macarons.

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