It has been a while since I made macarons. I have been planning to include strawberries in my macs ever since the strawberry season started but every time my strawberries got finished before I got a chance to incorporate it in a mac as my son loves nibbling them on as it is. This time, I managed to get the strawberry box hidden behind a bunch of lettuce in my fridge, which he hates, and started making the macarons when he was fast asleep.
As a child, I was not much fond of strawberries. I always associated it with the multivitamin tonic, mom used to give us when we were small, which I hated. It had the strawberry flavour. So when ever, I got candies or ice creams with strawberry flavour, I used to reject it saying it has 'tonic flavour'. As I have never given any tonics to my kid with strawberry flavour, he still loves strawberries and anything made with them.
I hadn't much time to blanch the almonds and all; so I powdered the almonds with the skin on. There was not much difference other than the specky shells which I find is adorable, which would otherwise have been plain white. Mashed a few strawberries in the mortar for the strawberry butter cream filling, but decided to leave the shells plain, not colouring or flavouring them. Too much flavour in macarons (according to me) is not good as I think it overpowers the real macaron flavour of almond and sugar.
Strawberry Macaron Recipe
Things you need:
For the Macaron shells:
65 g ground almonds
100 g icing sugar
50 g aged egg whites (about two egg whites)
25g granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
For the strawberry butter cream filling:
(yields 1 cup)
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine,at room temperature
Sifted confectioners sugar, to taste( about 1 cup)
1 to 2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp Strawberries, hulled and mashed
For the shells:
1. Firstly age the egg whites: Place egg whites in a clean bowl and cover lightly with a kitchen towel or tissue paper. It should not have any streaks of yolk in it. Keep it in your kitchen counter for 24 to 48 hours or up to 5 days in the fridge. Aging egg whites help to reduce its water content which is turn makes firmer shells for cookies.
2.Pulse the almond powder and icing sugar in the food processor or blender until fine and sift it into a large bowl to break lumps and aerate it. Discard any lumps or almond pieces. Keep it aside.
3.Whisk egg whites in a clean stainless steel bowl with no traces of fat in it, using an electric beater(medium speed) adding a pinch of salt.When the egg whites become foamy( like bubble bath) start adding granulated sugar slowly and beat on high until stiff glossy peaks.
4.Fold in the dry mixture to the meringue( beaten egg white) in two batches,quickly with a flexible spatula until well combined and no dry mixture is visible in the batter (it takes about 50 to 55 folds).At this stage your batter should be smooth, thick and shiny which slowly and ruggedly drips off your spatula as a ribbon when you lift it. Do not over mix once you have reached that thick batter stage.
5.Line your baking sheet with baking paper or parchment paper. Fit your piping bag with a round tip nozzle, clamp the bag with a cloth peg or clip just above the nozzle and scoop the batter into the piping bag keeping it in a tall glass to help with the filling. Now remove any air bubbles in the batter by squeezing it towards the nozzle by keeping the icing bag on a flat surface. Twist the ends and remove the cloth peg. Pipe out small rounds of about 2 and 1/2 cm diameter on to the baking paper leaving two inches in between them. Rap the baking sheet on a flat surface, a few times to flatten the batter and to remove any air bubbles, trapped in.
6.Let the batter sit to dry as long as it leaves no indentation once touched, lightly. DO NOT keep it too long to dry.This resting time vary from place to place depending on weather and humidity. It may take from 10 minutes to 2 hours.
7.Preheat the oven (conventional) to 160 degree C. While keeping the baking sheet, reduce the temperature to 140 degree C and keep the oven door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon while baking. In fan forced convection oven, preheat to 180 degreeC and then reduce to 160 degree while baking and bake the macarons for 15 to 20 minutes until completely done.
8.Take them out and let cool on a wire wrack along with baking paper for 15 to 20 minutes. Peel them out carefully with an offset spatula and sort them out with same size shells. Fill them with filling and keep in fridge to mature for a day or two for the flavours to blend. Unfilled shells can be frozen.
Note: To get a general idea about macaronage technique and points to note while baking macarons, read my post, Finding feet on French macarons posted a little while back..
For the filling:
In a bowl, beat the softened butter until creamy and pale. Gradually add confectioners sugar, little by little and beat well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl. The cream will appear crumbly and dry now. Add milk and continue beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Finally add the mashed strawberries and mix well. Use immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Re whip on low before using, if the butter cream is refrigerated.