Summer is definitely here, and with that comes strawberry season! For this month’s Mac recipe, Jase and I channeled an American summer classic (I think, non-American making sweeping generalisations here but from what I’ve seen I think that’s right), and made strawberry shortcake inspired macarons! As per usual, we kept the shell plain - we have learnt the hard way a few times (looking at you, blueberry shells) that unless you’re adding something like a tiny bit of cocoa to the shell, you’re best off sticking with a plain flavoured shell, and incorporating all your flavour on the inside. Macarons are already finicky enough as it is without having to worry about tweaking the recipe of the shell each time.
We then added the Strawberry shortcake element on the inside, with a super easy strawberry filling, a pie crumb, and a cream cheese German buttercream, which is a total fave of mine. The strawberry provided amazing flavour, and coupled with the creamy and slightly tangy buttercream and crunchy brown butter pie crumb, it made for, in my opinion, the perfect bite.
We did get a wee bit fancy with the styling and mixed it up a bit, making a few different colours, but these would be great done just in one colour too. I have added how we split up the mixture to colour it in the notes. We also did something a bit different this time and added all the leftovers into a churned ice cream base to make the most delicious strawberry shortcake macaron ice cream - stay tuned for the recipe!
A few wee tips:
All my mac tips are in this post!
We actually made two batches of macs for these - the first batch we did half solid pink, and the second half we painted the inside of the piping bag with a little gel food colouring so that it came out swirly. The second batch we coloured half a soft pink and left half white, and added sprinkles - I got these ones from etsy and I love them.
We also coloured some of the buttercream - you can really do anything you want here!
Make sure that you give the strawberry filling time to chill. It will be quite thick - we wanted it to be a little thicker so that it stayed inside the macs nicely.
Strawberry Shortcake Macarons (Strawberry Macarons with Cream Cheese German Buttercream and Streusel)
- Makes about 24 Macarons -
170g ground almonds
300g powdered sugar
180g egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Gel Food Colouring, optional (We used ‘soft pink’ by americolor)
220g all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
115g unsalted butter, browned
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp water
400g trimmed and quartered strawberries
Juice of half a lemon
3 Tbsp corn starch
Cream Cheese German Buttercream
12g corn starch
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
190g whole milk
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g cream cheese, at room temperature
- PROCESS -
Preheat oven to 300°f / 150°c, and position the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Using a round cookie cutter or the base of a large piping tip (something about 1.5 inches in diameter), draw a "template" for your macarons on a piece of parchment paper, leaving about 3/4" between each circle.
Combine the almond meal and powdered sugar together in a large bowl. Sift the mixture twice, to ensure there are no large lumps and that the mixture is properly aerated. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the mixer speed, and whip on high until the meringue starts to firm up. Add pink gel food colour a few drops at a time, until the desired colour is reached. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Continue to whip until the meringue forms stiff peaks (there is a good example here).
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the ground almond and powdered sugar mixture, and fold into the meringue. You want to deflate the meringue just a little at this stage, to combine the meringue and ground almond mixture.
Add the remaining ground almond mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Again, this video does a good job of explaining it. 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. Continuously check the consistency of the batter - you want it to flow like lava when you lift the spatula from the bowl, and you should be able to 'draw' a figure 8 with it, without the batter breaking (again, watch lots of videos to get an idea! They help so much). This step can take some practice until you know what it should feel and look like. If in doubt you are better to under mix them than over mix them - the process of putting the batter into the bag and piping out will help mix a little too.
Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an ateco #805. Place the macaron template on a sheet pan, and place a second piece of parchment over it. 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). Remove the template from under the macarons.
Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the bench. 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. Sprinkle with sprinkles, if using.
Repeat the piping and banging process until you have used up all of the batter - I usually make three sheet pans worth.
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.
About fifteen minutes before you are going to bake the macarons, place a spare sheet pan in the oven to preheat - this is going to be used to place under the pan with the macarons on it, to double up, which should help with even baking. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time - place the sheet with the macarons on the preheated sheet, and place in the oven.
Bake for approximately 18 minutes, rotating the pan once during the cooking process, and checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The macarons should develop a foot (the ruffled part on the bottom of the macaron), and bake without browning. To see if they are done - press down lightly on a shell. If the foot gives way, it needs a little longer, if it is stable, then it is close to being done. Test a macaron shell - if you can peel it away cleanly from the paper, they are done. If they are stable but cannot yet peel away cleanly, give them another minute or so. Again, this part takes a little trial and error depending on your oven. If they seem done but do not peel away cleanly, do not worry - there is a little trick for that!
Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before peeling off the parchment paper and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the baking with the remaining trays, using the same spare sheet pan to double up.
If your macs do not peel away cleanly, place them, on the parchment paper, into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then peel away from the paper.
Store cooled macarons in an airtight container until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Line a baking tray with silpat or parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt until well mixed. Add the butter and water and mix on low until clustered.
Spread the mixture on the tray, and bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Break up into smaller clumps during the baking process. Remove from the oven and allow to cool (it will firm up a lot during cooling). Store in an airtight container until ready to use
Place all ingredients into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, mashing with a potato masher as the mixture begins to warm.
Switch to a rubber spatula and cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it has thickened. Transfer to a container and allow to cool completely.
CREAM CHEESE GERMAN BUTTERCREAM
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and corn starch, then add the egg, egg yolk and salt, and whisk together well. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean paste to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.
Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan.
Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow dish or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold. If you are in a hurry, you can speed up this process by placing the custard mixture into a bowl, and placing the bowl into an ice bath, stirring frequently.
Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the custard mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. Add in the cream cheese, and whip until smooth, then whip for a further 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat on low for 3-4 minutes to help remove any big air bubbles.
Place the buttercream into piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice - we used a large round tip for the macarons with the pie crumb and a large french star tip for the macs with the sprinkles.
Pair up the macarons into pairs of equal sizes.
Pipe a ring of buttercream on one half of the macaron, and place a blob of the strawberry filling into the centre. Top with the second shell, pressing down lightly. Add the pie crumb to the sides if desired.
Chill the macarons briefly to allow the buttercream to set. Macarons taste best if you 'mature' them in the fridge overnight to let the flavours meld, but they are perfect eaten immediately too! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.