Red Velvet Macarons

The perfect treat for your sweetie this Valentine's Day!  Macarons are an almond based cookie shell filled with buttercream, ganache, jam or even fresh fruit. Decadent red velvet cake transformed into a bite sized treat, these shells are flavored with cocoa powder and stuffed with rich, cream cheese buttercream. 

To make macarons you must first make a meringue, start by combining the sugar and water in a small pan. It is important that all of the sugar is covered with water or it will caramelize once you start to cook it. Cook the sugar mixture to 119° C (246°F). While the sugar is cooking whip the first addition of egg whites to medium-stiff peaks, once the sugar reaches the desired temperature, with your mixer on high speed, slowly stream the sugar mixture into the whipped egg whites. Once all of the sugar is poured into the whipped whites, turn the mixer to medium speed and let mix until the meringue reaches 38°C (100°F). 

Once you pipe all of the shells, it is very important that you bang the trays either with your hands on the bottom of the tray or against a table or countertop. If you do not tap the trays well enough the shells will have air bubbles in them, causing them to explode while baking (see picture below). Allow shells to sit 10-15 minutes after piping, before baking them. The shells are ready to be baked once they have a skin on the surface and you can gently touch them without batter sticking to your finger.  Bake the shells at 275°F for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. 

Macarons

tpt** 600 grams

eggs whites (1st) 110 grams

sugar 300 grams

water 75 grams

egg whites (2nd) 115 grams

cocoa powder 15 grams

red gel color 5-15 drops

**tpt stands for tant pour tant, which means equal parts almond flour and powdered sugar... so in this case it would be 300 grams of almond flour and 300 grams of powdered sugar.

Cream Cheese Frosting

cream cheese 1 cup (8 oz)

butter 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)

vanilla bean paste 1 teaspoon

milk 1 tablespoon

powdered sugar 1.5 cups

Once the meringue has cooled completely, you can remove it from the mixer, transfer it into another bowl and set it aside for later use. Add the tpt**  to the mixing bowl (no need to wash the bowl in-between) and mix on low speed with a paddle attachment to combine the the almond flour and powdered sugar. Add the cocoa powder and mix. Once the two are well combined slowly stream in the second addition of egg whites. Add food coloring, you can add as much or little as you prefer, the shells will have a tan/light brown tint from the cocoa powder as well. Mix until a paste forms, once the paste forms add 1/3 of the meringue you set aside. Mix on low speed just until the meringue is mixed in. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl thoroughly. It is very important not to over mix the batter or it will be too runny to pipe the shells. Add the remaining meringue in two more additions, making sure to only mix until combined, and scrape the bowl very well each time. The ideal texture of the final batter is "ribbon stage", so when you run a spatula through it, the batter should run off and fold over like a ribbon and hold its shape.  Place the batter in a  piping bag fitted with a  medium round tip. Pipe circles onto a pan lined with parchment or a silpat (buy one here). 

To make the cream cheese frosting, mix cream cheese and butter with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add vanilla bean paste, then add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time.  Once the powdered sugar is all mixed in add milk and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes or until mixture become light and fluffy.  Once the macaron shells are baked and cooled match them in pairs (according to size) and pipe a small dollop of cream cheese frosting on one of the shells and sandwich the pairs together. Allow the finished macarons to sit in the fridge overnight for the end product. You can also freeze the finished macarons and pull one or two out each time you want a snack!