Ah French macarons, bane of home cooks and professionals alike.
I have seen many a subpar macaron for sale, even at the big boy's places.
The thing about macarons is that they require....
You have to believe in them! You have to believe in those little feet, in that cakey center! (the ruffly bit at the bottom is called the foot).
You have to believe that they will rise.
RISE! Like the glorious sun in the morning.
Mine are a little flat. This is because, afraid of overbeating them, I underbeat them.
But! Have you ever tried balsamic on sweet? How about right next to fresh?
Reduce it down, down with a little bit of honey until it is thick as melted chocolate.
Strew it over the tops of your beautiful babies and their little flat feet.
Crunch it up and wow! Sweet and fresh and sour and crunch and smoosh and a delicate buttercream together.
Next time: bigger feet.
Next time: twice as many.
You may have noticed that there is a new button on my blog. That little fella there in the corner lets you know that I (I!) am now a content contributer for The Daily Meal. Hooray! That's a real thing! I conjured up these little cookies in response to a weekly recipe challenge they issued, giving you one ingredient to play with. This week it was raspberries, sponsored by Driscoll's berries. Driscoll's berries! Go buy some berries! Follow them @driscollsberry #raspberrydessert. Eat them fresh or, better yet, stick them in a buttercream.
(Hey I forgot to include the raaaaaaspberry puree joke! I was singing it all day, just like Prince. Ha! I AM JUST LIKE PRINCE)
Raspberry Balsamic Macarons
Age your egg whites! Did you know you're supposed to do that when making macarons? Two or three days before baking, put your egg whites (about 3) in a glass dish in the refrigerator. The night before baking, take them out and leave them on the counter overnight. They won't go bad, I swear. This makes a huge difference in getting successful macarons.
For the cookies:
180 grams almond meal (I prefer grams for macarons, since imprecise measurements can be the difference between life and death here)
240 grams powdered sugar
140 grams egg whites, aged
A large pinch powdered egg whites (so much for precision!)
A medium pinch sea salt
In a large bowl combine almond meal, powdered sugar, and sea salt. Combine the egg whites with the egg white powder in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until stiff peaks form.
Add the meringue to the almond meal mixture and beat by hand until a shiny, ribbony mass forms. Don't be afraid! Get it right! A good way to test it is to make a small peak in the batter. Does it stand stiff? Beat it more. Does it immediately disappear? You've gone too far! Does it slowly sink back into and meld with the batter? That's it.
Pipe small rounds onto sheet pans lined with a silpat and let them air dry for 45 minutes to an hour. The tops should be dry when touched with your finger. If you live in a wet place, turn on the ceiling fan (Oregon, I'm looking at you). When the drying time is almost up, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
When drying time is up and oven is preheated, turn oven down to 300 degrees and bake cookies for about 15 minutes, rotating sheet pans halfway through for even cooking. Try not to have a heart attack as you open the oven and look for feet.
Let them cool.
For the buttercream:
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup water
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sticks butter, cubed and softened
Pinch of salt
1 cup Driscoll's raspberries
First, mash up the raspberries with a fork, making a chunky puree.
Now start beating the egg whites. You want to get them to where they are just forming soft peaks. In the meantime, combine the white sugar and the water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let it heat until it reaches 235 degrees fahrenheit. Immediately remove from heat and pour in a slow stream into eggwhites while still mixing.
Now add in the butter cubes, one at a time and mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and the pinch of salt. The mixture may look curdled, but just keep beating it. It will come together and turn fluffy and lovely just like you want.
Once you find the texture of buttercream you like, turn off mixer and stir in about 1/3 cup of raspberry puree by hand (more or less to taste, but don't add too much it will make the mixture separate again).
Pipe buttercream onto cookie halves, sandwich together with other cookie halves.
For the balsamic reduction:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
Simmer your vinegar and honey together in a small saucepan until about 1/4 cup of it is left. The texture should be syrupy. Can be made several hours or even days before cookies and stored in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before using as it will harden when cold.