Will you be mine…? Valentine’s Day being one of the most celebrated holiday around the world can always associate with hearts, roses, and what not, sweets. As adorable and delicious as these popular cookies, Macarons are undoubtedly the first choice for Valentine’s gift, especially hand made with love. So today we’re making Rose Macarons.
Macarons are famous for high fail rate for home bakers but once you know how to make it, it’s totally doable. First of all, a trustworthy cookbook is a must. I’ve read some macaron books before, a lot of them are filled with various recipes but they don’t have details on how to actually succeed in making them. But Les Petits Macarons by Kathryn Gordon & Anne E. McBride is one exception. This book has everything you need to know about macarons. It talks about the difference between a macaroon and a French macaron, then it gives us a brief history about these cookies and what to expect from a true macaron. The book explains the macaron “feet” and why they exists. It elaborates in detial about the four main ingredients, almond flour, confections’ sugar, granulated sugar and egg whites, and how to choose the right ingredients.
What’s also great about Les Petits Macaron is that not only there are recipes for sweet shells and fillings, there’re also unique recipes for savory shells and fillings. Everyone of them are totally delicious! If you look closely, there are 4 methods of making these little sweeties. The methods are French Meringue, Italian Meringue, Swiss Meringue, and the last one is the super easy method that the author came up with. There is also troubleshooting section as well resources.
Macarons doesn’t have to be the everyday average Joe. Some decorations making it more modern with finishing touches pretty much defines a stylish yet chic looking treat. One of the pages that caught attention was the edible rose petals, putting the petals on gives the little cookies an elegant yet romantic touch. Just what we’d like for Valentine’s!
A trusty book isn’t the only thing needed to make these marvels. A box of great tools is essential for perfection. Luckily we have the Macaron Kit from Lekue. The picture printed inside the kit with tasty looking Macarons is already enticing, isn’t it?
When opening this little box of magic, there is a shiny platinum silicon round shaped pasty bag squeezer with a set of nozzles sticking out. This is known as the Decomax Pen. It is noted that the silicon has platinum infused inside keeping it clean at all times. It doesn’t rust or break easily as well. The large filling window is definitely a plus when filling batters and creams. It saves me huge hassle unlike the regular pastry bags. The nonstick reusable macaron baking mat is also made of premium silicon. The rimmed guide keeps the macaron size uniform when piping and it prevents overflowing.
Here is a snap of the set of nozzles inside the Decomax pen.
Enclosed inside this kit is also a booklet that features instructions on how to make simple macarons like the ones shown on the box. But for our purpose we will be using Kathryn’s book.
To make the perfectly smooth shells for macarons, super finely milled almond flour is vital. No other almond flour can compete with King Arthur for the crown of “super fine.” In my journey of making macarons, I’ve tried at least 5 different almond flours, whether store bought or self ground. King Arthur almond flour by far is the mostly finely ground and it tastes the best. A bag of 8 oz, approximately 2 1/2 cups is more than enough for making a batch.
Here is a quick photo on how fine the flour actually is prior to baking. This is straight out of the packaging, unsifted.
Besides having the flour for the outer shell, color adds a new flavor to the eyes. After searching so many food colors, I decided to look for all natural coloring instead of synthetic and artificial dyes. I even heard some of the food coloring are made of insect shells, eww! I’m not feeding my family with those. India Tree Nature’s Colors Decorating Set seems wonderful. There are 3 primary colors in the set, red, yellow, and blue, all made out of concentrated vegetables. Though only 3 colors, they can be mixed and matched to create a whole array of color combinations such yellow and blue for green or red and blue for purple.
After taking the colors out of the packaging, I want to show you how each bottle looks. The bottle is easy to use. You can open the cap and squeeze it for easy dispensing. This makes working with colors less stressful and even cleaner. No need for a mess anymore!
Besides having eye catching colors to the macarons, the scent evoking to the nose is equally important. For food that targets multiple sensors, the experience generally is more pleasant and happier. Completing the scent for the macarons is Aftelier‘s Chef Essence line Rose. The scent is super intense but also perfect in creating just the right amount flavor.
Since the essential oil is so concentrated, a tiny drop would be enough for an entire batch of macarons. The bottle may look small, but it should last for quite a while.
Lastly but not least, on the supply list is the instant read thermometer for making meringue. Without knowing how many degrees has been attained whether cooking or baking, or especially when making candy, it would ruin the product for overcooking within seconds. Thermapen from ThermoWorks is my first choice for reliable quick reading thermometer. The splash proof body with LCD display is looking stylish, it has a rainbow selection of colors too.
Now we have everything needed to make the macarons, let’s take a look at the ingredients:
Almond Flour 165g
Pinch of Fine Sea Salt
Egg White (aged 2 to 5 days in the fridge) 115g
Cream of Tartar 3g
Granulated Sugar 150g
Confectioners’ Sugar (aka Icing Sugar) 165g
1. Make sure to take a balloon whisk and incorporate the confectioners’ sugar with the almond flour and pinch of fine sea salt prior to putting them in the food processor.
2. Process the almond flour, salt and confectioner’s sugar in the food processor and pulse 4 times for 3 seconds each to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl in between pulses.
3. Sift the mixture with a fine-mesh strainer.
Note how fine the King Arthur almond flour is when we’re using the super fine mesh strainer today. With other flour, it is impossible to go through this strainer, not to talk about how long it will take.
This is the end result after sifting and processing the flour. What you get is a 100% perfect incorporation between the sugar and the flour. No clumps or lumps.
4. Start to make Italian meringue by boiling water and granulated sugar on medium high heat.
5. At the same time whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed 6 until soft peak, about 2 minutes.
6. Using the thermometer, get the sugar syrup up to 235 °F
7. Lower the mixer speed to medium high speed 4 to prevent splashing, quickly and steadily pour the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl. Increase the mixer speed to medium 6 and continue to whisk until stiff peaks. When turning the bowl upside down, the meringue should not slip.
8. Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue with a rubber spatula from the center out in a circular motion.
9. At close to the end of the folding process, add drops of red food coloring.
10. Add rose essential oil food flavor.
This is how the batter look before piping. It should be smooth, shiny and slightly flowing.
11. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheet using the Decomax fitted with the large round tip. When the consistency of the batter is right, the surface of the piped batter should be smooth without tail. Slam the baking sheets down several times to remove excess air.
12. Bake the macaron shells at 200 °F for 15 minutes to dry out the shells. Increase the oven temperature to 350 °F and bake for an additional 9 minutes. Note: Kathryn believes that by letting the macarons dry at room temperature, moisture from the air may land on the shell and cause cracks. So instead of leaving the shells to dry outside the oven, she puts them in the oven immediately after piping at 200 °F, then increase the temperature to 350 °F to let the shells bake.
After the shells dry completely, remove them by rolling the mat from underneath for easy release.
As you can see, the baking sheet is almost clean from residue. I’m quite pleased with the result.
Now for the fun part, filling. Here I’m using Rose Buttercream. Using the basic buttercream recipe with Rose flavor and drops of red food color.
Using small star nozzle, I’m piping the buttercream around the edge of the shell.
For extra fun and balancing the sweet flavor, I’m adding some easy strawberry jam in the center for a bull’s-eye.
Decorate the half shell with a pink sugar pearl.
Continue to fill the macaron shells and put another shell on top to form a cookie sandwich. All finished!
Hope you enjoy today’s Rose Macaron filled with Rose Buttercream, Strawberry Jam Bull’s Eye. Happy Valentines!