Treat of the Week: Macarons with Plum Buttercream

This treat has got Easter all over it.I have been saving them for this week, but you will probably be seeing them in a variety of flavors to come.  Both the shells and the filling flavors can be easily altered.  For today, I chose basic shells and buttercream.  For the violet colored filling, I added plum paste. 

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Macarons have gained a great deal of popularity in the past few years, but they have been around for centuries.These little French beauties are the supermodel of confectioneries. They are perfectly round and ruffled at the bottom… shapely and textured.

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Macarons are light and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.The textural experience is complete when paired with a jam, buttercream, or ganache filling.Err on the side of less sweet for the filling to counter the sweetness of the pastry.

This can be a tricky recipe to master.You may have a couple failed attempts.I promise that it will be worth it in the long run.

To that end, there is an abundance of information available on the internet regarding this topic. I highly recommend reading articles and watching some video before tackling it.The videos will really help to see the ideal consistency for piping.

I flavored the buttercream with a plum paste.The taste is amazing.Once you get the hang of the macaron technique you can begin changing the flavors.There are so many options.  The basic recipe follows.

savour… patisseries.

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Macarons with Plum Buttercream

Before you start:

There is argument for and against aging the egg whites.I age mine and most of what you read will suggest the same.Leave them out on the counter in a covered bowl for 24 hours.You can leave them out longer, but move them to the fridge.I aged this batch for 2 days.

Watch the videos if you are unsure about soft and stiff peaks when whipping eggs.This part is critical to your success.Over beating will make your macarons dry.

I use parchment paper, but I do have to wet the back sometimes to release the mac without losing part of the bottom.

Don’t worry if your piping technique is not perfect.You may end up with all different sizes.Just pair them up as closely as possible and move on.

I highly recommend powdered food colorant for tinting the macarons.Adding moisture could prove to be disastrous.

Make more almond/sugar mix than required.Based on the size of your eggs, you may need to offset the amount of egg white with the dry mixture to obtain the right consistency.

The tools:

Mixer

Rubber spatula

Parchment paper

Baking trays

Piping bag (plastic storage bag will do)

Piping tips (use ½ tip or cut hole in storage bag)

The ingredients:

4 egg whites

2/3 cup of almond flour (ground almonds)

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons sugar

Powdered food colorant (you may have to visit a cake decorating supply store for this)

The method:

1.Separate the egg whites and keep age them.

  1. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together.The amounts above should be enough, but you may wish to make more almond/sugar mix.
  2. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  3. Add the granulated sugar slowly.Mix until it is mixed in and glossy.
  4. Fold in the almond flour mix and the colorant of choice to the egg whites gradually (see videos).
  5. Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper.I made mine 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inches in diameter.
  6. Preheat the oven to 310 degrees.
  7. Leave the macarons out on counter to dry for about an hour.
  8. Bake them for 15-20 minutes.Watch closely.You may have to rotate the tray halfway through depending on your oven.Additionally, watch them closely starting at 15 minutes to make sure they don’t dry out too much.They should not brown.
  9. Allow them to cool completely before peeling them away from parchment.Get the back of the parchment a little damp beneath the mac to help release if necessary.
  10. Pipe the filling on the bottom of one macaron and top with another.

For the filling:

Basic Buttercream

The ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

½ cup milk at room temperature

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla (you could use other flavorings if you wish)

2 pounds powdered sugar

Note:I added 2 tablespoons of plum paste also for flavor.You could certainly add a different flavor if desired.

The method:

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix on slow speed until smooth.Use more sugar if you need the filling stiffer.

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