Monday, February 16, 2015

Morello Cherry Macarons

When I want to make macarons but need some flavor inspiration, I just need to take a walk to my neighborhood New Season's grocery store and head for the jam isle. I'm always amazed at the local company's wide selection of low-sugar, pure fruit spreads and pleased that they just need to be whipped with softened unsalted butter for a quick and flavorful macaron filling.

On a recent trip to the store, I had a hard time choosing between a jar of Crofter's Morello Cherry Spread and Bonne Maman French Rhubarb Jam. In the end, the deciding factor was that the cherry spread was on sale and that's how these cute Morello Cherry Macarons came about.

Here's the recipe:

Morello Cherry 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. Be sure to add enough coloring since macarons lighten during baking. Make the batter darker than you want the macarons to turn out.

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 that need to rest at room temperature 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.
The macarons after baking.
 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 Morello Cherry Filling.
Filling the macarons.

Morello Cherry Filling
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Morello Cherry Spread (I used Crofter's brand)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract (a touch of almond extract always enhances a cherry dessert)

Whip all of the ingredients together until the buttercream is light and smooth.

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