Strawberry Cream Macarons with Chocolate & Almonds

This post is sponsored by Diamond of California Nuts.

A macaron is an entirely different dessert than a macaroon – the later is a coconut and condensed milk treat often dipped in chocolate and a macaron is a French cookie-like dessert. The extra “o” makes all the difference. These strawberry cream macarons coated in chocolate and almonds make for the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert. They are filled with a strawberry cream cheese filling before being dipped in chocolate ganache and almonds until they are set. I use Diamond of California almonds as I find they are perfect for adding a little texture, and they also compliment the almond flour the macarons are made with.

My sophomore year of college I studied abroad in Lausanne, Switzerland. It’s the French speaking area of the country and just down the street from our residence, a converted hotel owned by the University, was a little shop called Ladurée, now a widely known brand that has since expanded stateside. At the end of each week, a few girls and I would walk over and reward ourselves with a box of macrons and eat them in the park. It was my first introduction to the light, yet crisp, sweet and naturally gluten-free treats. Lausanne also happens to be where Aaron, my fiancé, and I met, so they naturally fit for a Valentine’s Day dessert in my book.

Macarons are a French pastry made from few ingredients; they just require almond flour, sugar and egg whites. Macrons can be intimidating but they aren’t that difficult to make as long as you adhere to the directions, which is certainly applicable to most of the craft of baking. The goal for macrons is to have a “foot” - that bit of lift with the ruffled edges that comes when they bake.

 

Ingredients:

For the macarons:

¾ cup almond flour (or finely ground, sifted almonds)

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 egg whites, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon pink gel food coloring

 

For the strawberry cream filling:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

¼ cup seedless strawberry jam

 

For assembly and topping:

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup sliced almonds, chopped (I use Diamond of California nuts)

 

Instructions:

For the macarons:

Preheat the oven to 355ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat baking sheets.

Add the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar to a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Pulse until the mixture is a fine powder. Sift into a medium mixing bowl to remove any lumps.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed for 2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until the egg whites become fluffy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the granulated sugar, continuing to beat on high, until the mixture is glossy and forms stiff peaks, an additional 2 minutes. Add the food coloring and beat on high until the food coloring is just incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Gently add the almond mixture into the meringue (the egg whites will deflate). Use a wooden spoon to fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until the mixture is smooth. Working from the center of the bowl outwards, turning the bowl as you go so you are mixing in large, sweeping movements. The mixture should be the consistency of lava.

Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a ¼-inch round tip. Pipe 1-inch circles onto the baking trays, about 1-inch apart. Tap the baking sheet on the counter to release any air bubbles.

Bake the macarons until they rise and set, about 9 minutes, with the oven door slightly ajar. Remove from the oven and carefully move the parchment paper to racks to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Carefully peel the macarons from the parchment paper.

 

For the strawberry cream filling:

Add the cream cheese to the bowl and beat in the confectioners’ sugar and heavy cream until smooth and creamy. Beat in the jam until combined. Add to piping bags filled with a ¼-inch round tip. Pipe onto the flat side of one macaron then sandwich together with another, pressing gently to spread the filling to the edges.

 

For assembly and topping:

Add the chocolate to a medium heat-proof mixing bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering then pour it over the chocolate. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate has melted. Let cool to room temperature.

Dip half of each macarons in the chocolate, letting any excess drip off. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. While they are still wet sprinkle with the chopped almonds.

Refrigerate in an airtight until ready to serve, up to 3 days.

 

Makes 1 dozen macarons.


This post is sponsored by Diamond of California Nuts. – all opinions expressed are my own. 

 

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