The Macaron is a French almond meringue cookie. It is usually created into a sandwich cookie with a buttercream, ganache, or jam filling. It is known for its difficulty and is a bit on the time consuming side. I have always wanted to attempt them and finally gained the courage to try. Chad took Evan out for the morning a few Saturdays ago so I would have peace and quiet to work (and also avoid little hands trying to grab one of the many baking sheets I was juggling in my tiny kitchen). These were filled with a vanilla cream cheese filling, such a wonderful pairing. The crisp and chewy delicate Macaron blended perfectly with smooth and rich center. Evan enthusiastically said “mmm”.
Humidity is not a friend to the Macaron and it was a suddenly rainy day in Florida when I made these, but I am still pleased to say that only 10 percent failed completely (mostly cracks- though the cracked ones are still delicious). The majority of my failures occurred when I tried to bake two sheets at once to save time. Don’t do this. A few of my shells did turn out a little grainy from the almond meal. Make sure you process the almond meal until it is completely fine. I was a bit impatient on that part and it shows in the final product. When baking the almond meal, you want to dry it until it no longer clumps, but there shouldn’t be any browning either.
Use a number 8-10 tip to pipe the batter onto the prepared trays, then to pipe the filling. If you don’t have pastry bags and tips, use a large ziploc bag and cut off up to a 1/4 inch hole on one of the bottom corners. When hitting the baking sheets against the counter to help settle the batter, don’t be afraid and end up doing it too gently. You really want everything to settle to help those pied (feet) form when baking and no peaks should be seen on the tops of the circle from piping. Make sure they are no longer sticky on the top before you put them in the oven. It helps to have the baking sheets in a room with the air conditioner running to dry them out. It took my batch about 45 minutes for the skin to form. The Macarons should bake just until cooked through and have no browning.
Pipe just enough of the vanilla cream cheese to fill the center. I piped borderline too much. You don’t want the filling seeping out as you bit into them, but you also want to be able to see the filling.
I used natural food coloring from beets to create the pink hue on the Macarons. I probably could have added a few more drops to make the color more strong, but didn’t want to add too much moisture to the batter. Moisture and humidity are the downfall of many of these little cookies.
They should be refrigerated for about a day before serving to let the flavors settle. Quite a few of mine didn’t make it that long. They can be refrigerated for up to a week- again, mine didn’t make it that long.
Macarons with Vanilla Cream Cheese Filling Recipe
Adapted from Jo the Tart Queen
Macarons with Vanilla Cream Cheese Filling
- 260 grams (~2 1/2 cups) ground almond meal
- 260 grams (~2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons) powdered sugar
- 200 grams (~6) egg whites room temperature
- pinch cream of tartar
- 240 grams (~1 cup plus 3 tablespoons) caster sugar
- a few drops natural red food coloring or red paste color
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 300 grams (~5 1/2 ounces) cream cheese room temperature
- 150 grams (~5 tablespoons) unsalted butter room temperature
- 250 grams (~2 cups) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment and preheat oven to 210˚F.
- In a food processor, grind almond meal until the texture becomes fine. Spread the almond meal out on another baking sheet not lined with parchment. Bake in preheated oven, tossing occasionally, until most of moisture has evaporated and it no longer clumps, but is not darkened, about 15 minutes. Place in a large bowl and combine with powdered sugar. Clean baking sheet and line with parchment.
- In a large, clean bowl, beat egg whites on low speed. Once they become foamy, add cream of tartar and increase to medium high speed. Once soft peaks form, slowly add caster sugar, then increase to high speed. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Fold in 1/4 of the stiff egg whites and food coloring into the almond meal and sugar. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites, then smear against the sides of the bowl about 12 times until the mixture becomes glossy and peaks fall within about 5 seconds.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a number 8-10 tip. Pipe even circles, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, on prepared baking sheets about 1/2- 1 inch apart. Rap the trays against the counter a few times and allow to rest 30-45 minutes until a skin forms and the top no longer sticks when touched.
- While the shells are drying, place rack in center of oven and preheat to 325˚F.
- Bake one sheet at a time in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then open door slightly for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet before removing. Repeat with remaining sheets.
- To make the filling: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese on low speed until smooth. Dice the butter and add to the cream cheese. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. If too thick, slowly drizzle in milk until pipe-able. Transfer the cream cheese filling into a bag fitted with a number 8-10 tip.
- Pair together the cooled macaron shells that are similar in shape. Pipe the filling onto half of the bottom side of the shells. Top, bottom side towards filling, with remaining shells. Gently twist until the filling fills the interior.
- Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.