The flavors of summer are some of daintiest, delicate, and delectable of all the seasons. Between the elegant, delightful flavor of strawberries and the exotic, exquisite fragrance of cherry blossoms; a macaron was a definite must. I wish Sydney or I could articulate the amazing flavor sensation strawberries fused with cherry blossom created; however I will do my best to try. As you bring the biscuit to your mouth the aroma subtlety entices you to pause and enjoy the bouquet; but only for a moment or two before your impulses give way and you must have a bite. The taste is gentle; if you are anything like Sydney and I you savor every bite; once you finish the flavor stays with you, your hooked!
Sydney and I were preparing for a macaron class last weekend; we were trying to decide on a flavor when Sydney suggested cherry blossom; I wanted to use strawberry when the idea of fusing the two wonderful flavors together came to both of us. One of most requested classes we offer is our French Macaron class and of course we wanted to include all of you. I remember the first time I was teaching myself how to prepare French macarons and the day they actually developed their feet. I had failed so many times prior my husband would call from his car to inquire if my French macarons had their feet. It became quite an adventure in our household during those two weeks (daily preparing and baking French macarons). By day five, I had become a little monster, and would throw the pimple looking blobs at my husband as the poor patient man would enter the kitchen with my voice trailing behind “I have pimple people not macarons!” On the fourth day..the foot had developed, as I watched from the oven window, I did a macaron dance. In my defense I had developed my own recipe, I tend to be stubborn that way. My husband no longer has to fear me or the kitchen; which is nice for him since Sydney and I prepare macarons quite often.
Strawberry Blossom Macarons:
- 66 grams/2.5 egg whites, divided in half, at least 1 day old separated
- 1 grams/a pinch egg white powder, optional & helpful
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped for seeds keep skin
- 138 grams/ 1 1/8-cup icing sugar
- 117 grams/ 1 1/8-cup almond finely ground
- 22 grams/ 2-Tablespoons dehydrated strawberry powder
- 36 grams/ 1/8-cup water
- 135 grams/1 1/8 cup sugar
- Vanilla bean, skins only
- 66 grams/ 2.5 egg white, about 2.5 eggs whites
- 1 grams/pinch egg white powder
- 7 grams/ 2-teaspoons superfine sugar
- 1grams/ 1/16-teaspoon rouge food colorant
- 1 Vanilla Bean
- Sakura cherry blossom essence, about 4 drops
Prepare your mise en place.
Place the almonds, powdered sugar, strawberry powder, and food colorants in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
Sift the tant pour tant in two batches (almond flour, strawberry powder, and icing sugar) and set a side.
The 2nd half of the mise en place.
In a small pot over low heat, combine water, sugar, and vanilla skins. Swirl the pot over the burner to dissolve the sugar completely. (Do not stir)
Increase the heat and boil to a softball stage (235 to 240 degrees F/ 113 to 116 degrees C). Use a candy thermometer for accuracy. Wash down the inside wall of the pot with a wet pastry brush. This will help prevent sugar crystals from forming around the sides, falling in and causing a chain reaction.
Meanwhile, prepare your meringue.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the other half of eggs whites and egg white powder on medium low speed until foamy. Add the cherry blossom essence, increase the speed to medium, and beat until soft peaks and add vanilla seeds, and begin to slowly add super fine sugar to the egg whites. Whisk egg whites to medium firm.
With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over the fluffed egg whites. Beat until the egg whites are stiff, shiny, and glossy. Do not over beat your meringue or it will be too dry. The meringue should resizable a whipped cream texture, as my daughter says.
Take the bowl with your tant pour tant (almond mixture) and add the reserved half of the egg whites.
Add a third of the meringue to the tant pour tant, give it a quick fold to break some of the air, keep folding till the almond mixture is mixed into the meringue, and then fold another third of the meringue into the batter, continue to vigorously fold till there are no white streaks. Now add the last third of the meringue to the batter, fold till thick, shiny and ribbons fall from the spatula. Fold the batter carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself and resembles shiny cake batter. There is no magic, I am not going to tell you that the batter should look like magma, I doubt you have ever seen it up close, I know I haven’t!
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto silicone mats lined baking sheets or parchment paper lined baking sheets. A vented jellyroll pan edge free is perfect. Rap the jellyroll pan on the counter to allow air bubbles to be released.
Let the macarons to sit out for about 1 hour to make sure the shells are hard. A well-made macaron features a crinkly “foot” on the bottom of each shell. Let the piped batter rest for 30 to 60 minutes, check for a skin to develop and place in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F/ 149 degrees C.
Right before placing the macarons in the oven reduce the heat to 280 degrees F/ 138 degrees C.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.
Bake the macarons for 5 minutes, then quickly open the oven door, turn the pan, and close the oven. Bake them for another 5 minutes and open and close the oven again. Continue to bake the macarons until the tops are rounded and firm and a craggy ridge, the foot, has formed around the base, about 5 minutes (check the macarons after a couple of minutes, as the baking time will vary by the oven).
Remove the silicone mat or parchment paper with the macarons still attached to a cooling rack; so they do not become soggy. Once the macarons are freely loosen from the silpat/parchment paper transfer to another cooling rack for a good 2 hours.
Crème Frâiche Cherry Blossom Filling:
- 134 gram/ 4.75-ounces crème frâiche, very cold
- 122grams/1/2-cup heavy cream
- 31 grams/1/8-cup mascarpone cheese
- 15 grams/ 1-Tablespoon icing sugar
- 3 drop cherry blossom essence
- Pinch of salt
- 2 drops rose pink food paste
Prepare your mise en place.
Place the bowl of a standing mixer along with the whisk attachment in the freezer ½ hour before preparing the filling (the crème frâiche and cream will whip-up faster).
Add the mascarpone, crème frâiche, and heavy whipping cream to the cold bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, on medium speed begin to whisk. Add the cherry blossom essence, and icing sugar when soft peaks form. Add food paste and bring the crème filling to a stiff peak, watch careful the crème can turn to butter before your eyes.
Place the filling in a disposable pastry bag fitted with an open star tube/tip.
Pipe from the outside toward the center of a macaron and gently place a second macaron on top.