Monday, September 22, 2014

Watermelon Macarons

A box of lemon and watermelon macarons.
 I'm always on the lookout for new French macaron flavors so I was happy when I recently spotted watermelon flavoring for sale at Michael's Arts & Crafts.

Watermelon flavor from LorAnn Oils.
The flavoring is from LorAnn Oils and is super concentrated, just a few drops equals a teaspoon of traditional extract, so just a bit is needed to flavor a full batch of buttercream.

Because the flavoring is artificial though, I was a bit worried about how it would taste but my daughter Eleanor on the other hand had no qualms. "I can't wait. Watermelon macarons are going to be so good," she enthusiastically said. Then again, her favorite flavor is blue raspberry so I still worried a bit. The only way to find out was to make and taste them.

I didn't tell my husband what I was up to and when I gave him a blind taste of a finished macaron and asked him to guess the flavor he said, "cucumber?" Cucumbers are fresh and natural so I was indeed relived that it didn't taste artificial. When I told him it was watermelon he said, "Oh yeah, I should have gotten that. Now I can taste it. It's really good."

I tasted one and agreed. They are delicious and a nice addition to my macaron repertoire. I am definitely going to seek out other interesting flavors from LorAnn Oils. There is a limited selection at Michael's Arts & Crafts but the company has a website and oh my gosh — they sell just about flavor you can imagine — rootbeer, bubblegum, red licorice, pina colada, strawberry kiwi, eggnog, cola... And, they also sell a line of natural extracts.

I can't wait to try more! In the meantime, here's the recipe for Watermelon Macarons:

Watermelon 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
 Red food coloring

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. Add the coloring.

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.

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 Watermelon Buttercream.

Filling the macarons.

Watermelon Buttercream
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon super concentrated Watermelon Flavor from LorAnn Oils
pinch of fine sea salt
green food coloring

Place the whites in a clean mixing bowl. Whisk in sugar and cream of tartar.

Place bowl over a double boiler on medium heat, stir frequently until the mixture is very hot (120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit).

Move to mixer and whip whites on high for 2 to 3 minutes; turn down to medium low until cool (use the bowl as your guide).

In a separate bowl with a wooden spoon, stir butter to soften.

With mixer on medium/high speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, adding the next tablespoon just as the previous one is blended in. Once all the butter incorporated, add in the watermelon flavor and salt and whip on high speed until fluffy. Tint with green food coloring.

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