Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Black Currant Macarons

I have a special fondness for black currant flavor because it brings back memories of when my husband and I lived in Northern Ireland during our first year of marriage in 1993. From jams and jellies to juices, yogurt and candies, the flavor was everywhere and I loved it because I'm a big fan of sweet/tart treats.

Even the bag of Skittles that we bought to share at the movies in Portrush, Northern Ireland had the flavor because in the United Kingdom, black currant is swapped for the grape ones found in bags bought stateside.

Because macaron shells are quite sweet, a black currant buttercream offers a nice balance. To make the buttercream, I used a high-quality black currant preserve that I simply whipped into unsalted butter. I also added a pinch of sea salt.

The Black Currant Preserves that I used.
These sweet tart cuties really are easy to make. For added interest,  I colored the shells using the marbling technique of painting stripes of violet gel coloring inside the pastry bag before I added the batter.

Here's the recipe:

Black Currant 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
Violet gel 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.

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.

Using a small brush, paint three stripes of violet gel coloring on the inside of the piping bags. Don't go crazy and use too much or you will have a mess. A little goes a long way.
The three stripes of coloring painted on the inside of a piping bag.

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.
The 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 10 to 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 or spatula to help lift them off.

Sort into pairs and fill with Black Currant Filling. 
Filling the macarons.

Black Currant Filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup black currant preserves
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Whip the butter until it is light and smooth. Add the preserves and sea salt.

Whip this together until the filling is light and creamy. When you first start whipping the ingredients together, it will look like a curdled mess, but don't panic. The filling will eventually come together and be beautiful. Just whip it and whip it good!

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