Pucker Up – a Mac-Valentine

MacLemonCurd

I’ve been wanting to create a Lemonade Macaron for some time now. So when Jamie and Deeba announced that Mac Attack #4 would be a Mac-A-Valentine, I thought making Lemonade Macarons would be the perfect way to get my Valentine to pucker up.

MacBuddies

This was a very special Mac Attack because I had two fabulous food blogging buddies join me in the kitchen. Tiffany of Food Finery and Cristie of Tablerunner came to my house for a fun day of mac baking, lunching and Tweeting.

We each made our own batch, different flavors and colors, but we all used the same recipe – the Ottolenghi recipe Deeba had success with last month. Tiffany made the gorgeous lavender ones with a vanilla bean buttercream and blueberry-pear jam filling. Cristie’s beautiful red ones were filled with either a chocolate buttercream or a luscious citrus cream cheese filling. My little yellow ones were filled with a sweet, but tart lemon curd. All very different, but all wonderfully delicious!

MacsResting

The plan was to test resting times and baking temperatures to see what worked best at our altitude. The first batch we didn’t rest at all and baked it at 350 degrees. We got feet and a nice crispy shell, but when we put the next batch in after a 20 minutes rest, the tops browned too much. So we dropped the temperature on the third batch to 280 degrees and we baked it at 280 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes and the third batch was the prettiest batch of all.

MacOvenPeaking

Here’s a peeking in the oven shot. It’s so fun to flip on the oven light and see the little feet starting to develop.

MacShake

I like to give the shells a gentle little shake to see if they’re done. You want them set but not firm.

MacsPiped

We all followed the same recipe and carefully measured our ingredients on a digital scale, but got three different results. Mine were a bit too thick and my shells a bit bumpy; Tiff’s spread a bit more than she would have like; we all thought Cristie’s were just right. But we all got feet and more importantly, they all tasted delicious! (Because of course we had to taste them all.)

MacParty

Pucker Up–A Mac-A-Valentine

Ingredients:

  • 110gm powdered sugar
  • 60gm finely ground almond meal/flour
  • 60gm egg whites (of 2 eggs)
  • 40gm granulated sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 310 degrees F

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready. (Setting the pastry bag in a glass while you fill the bag was a great tip I learned during this process.) (Also, I like to double stack the baking sheets.)

Combine the powdered sugar with the almond powder. (Pulse in a blender or food processor if you don’t have finely ground almond meal.)

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes. (To test to see if egg whites are ready, whip until the tip of the peak doesn’t fold over when you pull the beater out of the meringue.)

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag. (You can put a spoonful on a plate to test it. If it slowly flattens out it’s perfect. If it runs, add a bit more almond flour/powdered sugar. If it just stays in a blob, give it a few more folds.)

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart. (macaron template here.)

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons. Leave out, uncovered for 15 minutes, then bake them for 15-20 minutes. Give the macs a gentle little shake to see if they’re done. You want them set but not firm. It’s better to undercook them.

Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

Thanks Cristie and Tiffany for baking with me, and thanks to all of you who baked with us on Twitter! Visit Mac Tweets on February 14 for a complete roundup of the Mac-A-Valentine macarons.

If you haven’t enter my CSN Stores Giveaway yet, be sure and leave me a comment on the Giveaway post for a chance to win!