blueberry macarons + passion fruit curd
Considering I used to hate these little cookies, it's ironic (am I using this word right, Alanis?) that I make them so often. I guess when you finally feel like you've somewhat mastered something, it's fun to push the boundaries. I won't pretend that I've mastered macarons, but I do feel like I have a good sense and feel for the process and can tell if my meringue has been over-whipped, if the shells are under-baked, etc. I have noticed that most bakeries tend to experiment very little with the flavor of the shell and instead flavor the filling and use that to carry their theme. Of course, this is why I wanted to experiment even more with that part of the process. I came across some freeze-dried blueberries at Trader Joe's (also my preferred brand of almond meal) and immediately envisioned pretty blue blueberry macarons and a use for the passion fruit purée that has been hanging out in my freezer for ages. I have found that it takes sufficient trial and error to manipulate the minutiae of macaron shells. Tipping the recipe scales in any direction can yield ugly and disappointing results. I thought these guys came out really well and the macaron with passion fruit curd filling reminded me of an almost lemony blueberry muffin!
If you missed my previous post on macarons, you can find a really technical break down here. I will add some of my newest learned tips below! As always, feel free to leave questions, suggestions, and successes in the comments!
over-whipping your meringue is going to lead to problems. You want the meringue to be glossy with medium-stiff peaks but still look wet.
aging your egg whites is important. This removes some of the moisture so that you don't have overly wet macarons which will have trouble baking. Two days before I know I'm going to bake macarons, I set 130g (to account for evaporation) of egg white in a small bowl or container covered with a paper towel on my kitchen counter. THEY WILL NOT SPOIL, so don't sweat it.
do not use commercial egg whites that come in a carton. Separate fresh eggs and use those white. Save the yolks! Make ice cream, you can fill your macarons with little scoops of ice cream and be a genius. Just saying. (the chamomile-crème fraiche ice cream would be awesome with blueberry, get the recipe here)
please do not attempt this recipe without a kitchen scale. Macarons are temperamental at their best times and absolutely unruly at their worst. Give yourself the best shot possible and get your ingredients as accurate as possible.
don't beat yourself up if they don't come out perfect the first time! Macarons are a freaking hard cookie to nail and it just takes practice. Don't give up!
if you aren't a super experienced piping expert, get yourself a template for the macarons! You are looking for your cookies to be about an inch and a half in diameter spaced 3/4 of an inch apart. Trace a little circle cutter on parchment paper as a template. Doing this ensures that you won't have different sized macarons which all bake at different rates.
filled macarons freeze really well! preserve your hard work if you don't eat them all!
if after your macarons are cooked and cooled, they stick to your parchment paper or silpat, stick them in the freezer for about 10 minutes, they should peel right off after!
not all almond meals are created equally! some can be really oily (sorry, Bob's red mill, I'm looking at you guys) which can cause your meringue to deflate. I really like the trader joe's brand almond meal (not sponsored, I'm just a fan)
over-baking your macarons can happen in a matter of seconds, they are that finicky. While your macarons are baking, press lightly on the shell of a macaron. If it moves around, it needs more time. If it's stable, it's done.
to get your blueberries finely pulverized, add them to the food processor and give 'em a whirl before you add your almond meal and powdered sugar. You will have some flecks of blue (which I think is super pretty), but it'll be closer to the texture of the almond meal with no large lumps.
if you want to color your macarons, use a gel-based food coloring, such as americolor. I used 3-4 drops of 'royal blue' for these macarons.
makes about 24 macaron sandwiches
30g freeze-dried blueberries (do not use simply dried blueberries, they are too wet, you can find freeze-dried at trader joe's)
130g almond meal
145g powdered sugar
120g aged egg whites (see tips above)
pinch of cream of tartar
135g granulated sugar
3g vanilla extract
3-4 drops gel food coloring (optional, but I used americolor 'royal blue')
passionfruit curd (recipe below)
Preheat an oven to 310 degrees F. Using a small circle cutter (roughly 1.5 inches in diameter), trace circles onto the parchment paper with a sharpie leaving about 3/4 of an inch between each circle. This will be your template for piping to ensure that your cookies are the same size and thus bake evenly. Turn the sheet over and place onto a baking sheet (you can still see the circles but your cookie won't absorb any of the marker). I actually prefer using a silicon sheet, but I am also fairly proficient at eyeballing the piping. I would recommend using the template until you feel comfortable and then switching to a silpat. They also make silpats with macaron templates on them and you can snag one here.
Place blueberries in the bowl of a food processor and run until blueberries are pulverized into a fine meal. Add almond meal, powdered sugar, and salt. Run the food processor for 1 minute, until everything is finely mixed. Set aside.
Place egg whites and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high until eggs become slightly foamy and then add the cream of tartar. Continue to whip until until your whisk leaves tracks in the meringue. Gradually add the sugar into the egg whites, a bit at a time, while the mixer is still running on high. Let the meringue whip until it is glossy and shiny. When you remove your whisk, there should be a medium-stiff peak of meringue on the top but it should still look wet. Add food coloring, if using, and whip until color is evenly distributed.
Add the almond meal to the meringue in 3 stages, folding the mixture gently between each addition. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Fold the mixture in a series of 'turns', deflating the batter by spreading it against the side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the movement - scooping the batter from the bottom of the bowl, and spreading it against the side. Continue to check the consistency of the batter, after being spread against the side of the bowl, the batter should very slowly slide down the bowl, like lava.
Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an ateco #805. Holding the piping bag at a 90˚ angle to the surface, pipe out the batter into blobs the size of the circles drawn on the template. Finish off each piped circle with a little "flick" of your wrist to minimise the batter forming a point (it will still form a small one, but we can get rid of this with banging). Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the counter. You will want to raise the sheet tray about 6 inches and bring it straight down. Repeat this a few more times - this will get rid of any air bubbles, remove points on the top, and help them to spread out slightly.
Allow the macarons to dry at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes, or until they form a skin that you can touch without your finger sticking to them. This time will drastically vary depending on the humidity. Bake for 15-18 minutes but start checking the macarons at 12 minutes. They should have developed a foot (the little ruffled part at the bottom). To check for doneness, press on the top lightly and wiggle. If the top shell moves, it needs more time. If you try to wiggle and the cookie is stable, they are done. Let them cool completely on the sheet before trying to peel the cookies away from the paper. Cooled macarons can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week before filling.
adapted from Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milkbar Cookbook
150g passion fruit purée (you can find some here)
95g granulated sugar
250g unsalted butter, diced, cold
1 sheet silver gelatin (you can use powdered gelatin, but only about 3g dissolved in 10g cold water), soaked in ice water 5 minutes before use
In a small non-reactive sauce pan, whisk together passionfruit, sugar and eggs. Place the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens. Immediately transfer to a blender. With the blender running, add pieces of butter a couple at a time until all has been incorporated and mixture is smooth. Remove gelatin sheet from the ice water and squeeze out extra water. Add gelatin to the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours. Transfer to a piping bag and fill the macaron shells. If you find that the mixture is very firm, use a spoon and mix it up until it is pipe-able.