It's an addiction. A serious addiction. One that I really don't have time for, but I just keep doing it. I've made dozens of batches of macarons. I love it. Even when I make mistakes that leave me without a finished product (it usually happens once every 3 or 4 batches, usually when I get arrogant).
I have to make a few treats for next weekend when I am helping out with a regional band assessment. I am feeding the judges and committee members 4 meals, as well as putting together some 'thank you' baskets and bags for the judges and teachers whom have lent their classrooms. I decided to go with the colors of blue and yellow (our school colors) and thought I'd make blue and yellow macarons. Here is what I came up with for the blue (blackberry) ones. I've pieced together a couple of recipes that I liked and they turned out amazing. Probably the best ones yet.
1 c. freeze dried blueberries
2/3 c. almond flour (minus 4 T.)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 egg whites (room temperature)
5 T. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
blue & black gel food coloring
Heat oven to 280 degrees and place the racks on the two lowest positions. Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit two cookie sheets perfectly and then make 1-inch circles all over the papers, leaving at least 1/2-inch of space in between circles. With practice, you will be able to skip this step and pipe your macarons without the circles, while maintaining a fairly consistent size of circles. Also, silpat baking sheets are so much easier than parchment, if you want to make the investment.
Using a blender or food processor, blend the freeze dried blueberries until they are a fine powder. It should make at least 4 T. of powder. This recipe really does better if you can sift the dry ingredients, but it isn't necessary, as I've done it both ways. Either sift the almond flour, blueberry powder and powdered sugar or whisk it and set aside.
Place egg whites in the bowl of a mixer and start to mix on med-high. When they start to get frothy, add sugar, 1 T. at a time. Continue to beat until glossy, stiff peaks appear. To test it, pick up the whisk and if the egg whites peak and the top doesn't fall, they are ready. If it falls down, keep mixing. Make sure you don't over mix (it will become clumpy). Add vanilla and coloring.
Transfer egg whites to a large bowl. Add half of the dry mixture and fold it about a dozen times until just mixed. Fold with a spatula, going up the sides, pushing down the center. Finish mixing the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful to fold and not stir. When you lift your spatula, the mixture should pour off like thick molten lava. If it's not flowing when you lift the spatula, it is too thick and needs more mixing.
Use a piping bag with a large round tip. Place it in a large cup and fold over the sides. Pour in half of the mixture and twist the top. Start piping the batter into the circles. The best way to do it is hold just over the pan (not touching) and let the batter come out until the circle is perfectly filled. Then quickly turn your wrist as you lift the tip to try and not leave a tail. Once the first pan is filled, hold the pan with both hands and tap hard on the counter 3 times. Turn the pan so your hands are on the opposite ends and tap again 3 times (helps get any air pockets out and flattens the cookies). Continue until both pans are filled and the rest of the batter is used up. Let them sit on the counter for at least 15 minutes, or until the tops are no longer wet when you touch them.
Place the cookie sheets on the two bottom oven racks. You will have to experiment with the cooking times, but this is what worked for me. Set the timer for 2 minutes and when it rings, open the door to let any humidity escape. Then set the timer for 6 minutes. Once the time is up, change the pans so that the top one is now on the bottom, as well as turn around so the back of the pan is now in the front. Bake for 7 more minutes. To test the doneness, carefully lift the cookie off the sheet. If it comes off the parchment easily, they are done. If the cookie separates in half, bake one more minute, and so on. Cool the macaroons completely before filling.
Fill with blackberry buttercream (below). Try to match up sizes and shapes (easier when your cookies are all symmetrical) as you go. Once they are filled, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days and freeze for up to a month. They are best after aging in the fridge for at least a couple of hours so the filling chills and they meld together a bit. Let them come back to room temperature before serving. If they are frozen, let them thaw completely in their original covered containers to avoid condensation from forming.
Blackberry Buttercream Macaron Filling