Thursday, May 26, 2016

Further Adventures in Macarons

Ever since watching this Miniature French Desserts Craftsy class back in February, I've been dreaming planning new macaron flavor combinations. My family has begged for more ever since their fancy Valentine I made up this year. So naturally when the boy scouts announced their annual Spaghetti Dinner and Dessert Auction fundraiser at church, I knew what I wanted to make :)
I had to fit quite a bit of work into just one night in order to get the macarons made in time. After much deliberation, I decided to finally make my most dreamed of flavor: hazelnut macarons with milk chocolate ganache filling. Can you say Nutella cookie?! Wanting to also use some of the dried fruit I prepared months ago, I also decided to make lemon macarons with raspberry Swiss buttercream filling. First thing's first - the cookies themselves:
The nice thing about taking the Craftsy class is that I had the inside tip on how to alter the flavor of the cookies and still have them turn out ok. For the hazelnut ones, I just halved the amount of almond meal called for and added that much in hazelnut meal. I make all of my nut meals from scratch myself, and I did all the nut prep beforehand so it was not nearly as labor intensive to make them this time around. I used a few drops of vanilla extract and a combination of dark brown and copper gel to get a nice brown color. For the lemon cookies, I added 1 tsp of dry lemon peel (from Penzey's - look into it!) and a few drops of lemon extract with lemon yellow gel food coloring (a crazy amount to get a zippy color).
 Two days later, I had to fill them. I made Swiss buttercream with the class recipe and I added a little over 1 tsp of powdered raspberry (homemade - I'll show you below) to the sugar before cooking. I also ended up with the perfect raspberry color by combining burgundy and pink gel food coloring (it was pure luck since I just guessed, lol). I squirted a little buttercream onto a macaron to taste test and I wasn't happy with the amount of raspberry I could taste. I wanted more zip (though it should be said that it was a nice flavor, just not strong enough to compete with the lemon). Since I still wanted my macarons to look pretty with the Swiss buttercream (and since I already made the stuff, I was going to use it, dang it), plus since I knew that straight raspberry jam would overpower the lemon and I wanted a nice balance, I decided to get creative and put a dollop of my homemade raspberry freezer jam in the center surrounded by a ring of Swiss buttercream. It looked pretty interesting before I sandwiched them :)
And once they were all squeezed, no one could tell :) They just tasted amazing. I made milk chocolate ganache for the hazelnut ones using the recipe from the Craftsy class. Aren't they pretty?! I love that they are mostly smooth but that you can still see little bumps on them from the ground nuts. I'm proud to report that my macarons were the highest grossing dessert in the auction! I split them into plates of 1 dozen and all 5 plates added up to $125, which basically means I got retail for my cookies :) I"m glad I could do a little something to help get my brother to scout camp. While I had sampled a few while making the ones I donated (I mean ... I had to make sure they were edible, right?!), the next day I found myself pretty bummed that there were no macarons to munch on after all that work. But being that it was my day off and that I still had a bunch of filling left over, I decided to make another batch that was my third choice of flavors to try out.

First, let me back up - I decided to get all food-nerd after making my first batch of macarons and dry out my own fruit to make powder. The Craftsy class talks about how you can buy freeze dried fruit and grind it up, but I'm cheap and I already had fruit and a dehydrator so I decided to make my own flavorings :)
This was really easy to do. I made 3 flavors to start: strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry (I have since added blueberry to my lineup). The raspberries and blackberries (and blueberries) couldn't have been simpler - I just laid them out on a tray and turned on the dehydrator. After reading a lot, I turned it to 98 degrees and I left it on for a few days just to be sure they were good and dry. For the strawberries, I had to hull them first and then I sliced them with my mandolin slicer, then I laid them out on a tray to dry. I left all the berries in there the same amount of time, but the thinned out strawberries were definitely the first to dry out.Once they were fully dry, I decided to follow some other precautious advice and I put them in ziplock bags and put them in the freezer overnight just to make sure any bacteria was completely dead. From there, I just put the dried fruits one group at a time through my coffee grinder (which I bought just for the purpose of grinding spices and fruits like this since I don't drink coffee - and I got it for $5 brand new through a girl on a Mommy Market Facebook Group, score!), and then put each powder into little plastic containers from the Dollar Tree. Anyway, all that is just to say that it definitely requires patience, but you can make your own flavors using literally any type of fruit you want and it's much cheaper than buying freeze dried and grinding.

So, for my own batch I decided to make strawberry macarons :) Mmmm... To do this I just added a little over 1 tsp of powdered strawberry to the nut meal and pulsed it in the food processor. I also added a few drops of imitation strawberry extract (I wasn't happy that it was imitation, but it was all I could get locally and I already had some) along with pink and red gel food colorings. I used my remaining raspberry Swiss buttercream and some of my remaining milk chocolate ganache to fill them and basically had a personal macaron party :)
Aren't they pretty?! The strawberry/raspberry combo was my favorite - I call them Straspberry :) Don't get me wrong, the milk chocolate filled ones were certainly no disappointment either, ha ha. And I did share these with my family. They came out just perfect - nice and chewy. Man, I love macarons.

So, I thought I would share my recent macaron making endeavors. It will sound cliché, but it's entirely true what the class says - once you start making these, you will just want to make more all the time. Every time I make them, I find myself wishing it was possible to make more batches to try new flavors right then. I've found I can only handle 2 batches at a time since they have to be mixed separately then have everything cleaned in between. Once the nuts and flavors are all prepared though, it made it much simpler to go from batch to batch. I weighed everything out at the beginning and just grabbed each ingredient as I needed it, which made for lots of little dirty bowls, but thankfully I have a ton of ramekins :)

I now have several other flavor plans in my head waiting for the next time I feel the urge - I think that blueberry macarons with lemon curd filling would be a magical experience, don't you? And maybe a pineapple macaron with coconut Swiss buttercream? Or something with lots of citrus - like orange cookies with lemon curd or vice versa. And I still have yet to make any with rose water or lavender, which I've wanted to make since I first watched the class. I'm open to flavor suggestions too if you have any fantastic ideas! Hmmm... all this flavor talk makes me want to make more, lol. I definitely recommend the Miniature French Desserts Craftsy class - but watch it at your own risk! It seems to start an obsession!

*Class links are affiliate links, but all opinions (and macarons) are my own!


  1. Macarons are possibly my favourite sweet! I just love them. I've never made them, though. Yours look and sound wonderful. Blueberry with lemon curd sounds sooo good! I can see how it would be addictive to make these. They are addictive to eat. ;)

    1. They are definitely delicious :) Totally worth making them yourself!


Thanks for joining in the conversation!