Homegirl is ready for a vacation. For real. Nothing sounds better right now than a cocktail at sunset on the beach overlooking the ocean. Memorial Day weekend cannot come soon enough.
It’s been a bit of a madhouse over here. Actually, it’s been more like a real live test kitchen. I spent last weekend trying out a few new cupcake recipes and new frostings. It was fun, but if I look at another cupcake, I think I might stomp a foot or throw myself on the kitchen floor. I need a break from the sweets.
But not until we discuss Swiss buttercream and macarons. There is something very rewarding about making a great batch of Swiss buttercream, which I think has to do with that moment of uncertainty in the process – why does this look curdled? how long do I need to beat this before it comes together? I’ve tried a couple of recipes over the years and have had success with all of them. So I thought I’d try something new, just for fun.
There’s a reason why people say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The new recipe didn’t have the silkiness that you expect from a Swiss buttercream, it was more of a meringue. So I started adding butter. And adding butter. I added almost 5 additional sticks of butter to make it right. Which left me with a whole lot of buttercream since I was only frosting one 9-inch cake that day (which, too, was a disaster).
What do you do when you accidentally make enough Swiss buttercream to cover a wedding cake? It turns out that you can freeze it. You can also use it to fill macarons. And I love any excuse to make macarons.
A surplus of buttercream is also a good excuse to play with different flavors. On that particular day, I had raspberries on the brain and a little bit of extra raspberry jam on hand. I also had my eye on a bottle of rosewater that was kind of begging to go into the macaron batter. Roses and raspberries, kind of perfect together if you ask me.
rosewater and raspberry macarons
from i ♥ macarons by Hisako Ogita
makes about 2 dozen macarons
for the macarons:
2/3 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) almond meal
1-1/2 cups (5.25 ounces/150 grams) powdered sugar (use powdered sugar that doesn’t contain cornstarch)
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon rose water
pink food coloring (optional)
Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet. Trace 1-inch circles on the paper, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart. This will be your guide for piping your macarons. Place parchment on baking sheet (pencil/ink side face down). Set aside.
In a food processor, grind the almond meal and powdered sugar together to a fine powder. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve. Repeat. Set aside. Place the mixture in the refrigerator if it is warm in your work area.
In a stainless steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until they are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites and continue to beat on high speed until they reach stiff, glossy peaks. Add the rosewater and food coloring and mix lightly.
Add half of the sifted flour mixture to the meringue. Stir with a large spatula, scooping up from the bottom of the bowl. Add the rest of the flour and mix lightly in a circular motion.
When the flour is incorporated into the meringue, press and spread the batter against the sides of the bowl. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. Repeat this process about 15 times, but no more than 20 strokes. When the batter becomes nicely firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with a spatula, the mixture is ready.
Attach a 1 centimeter round pastry tip to a pastry bag and pour the batter into the bag. Squeeze the batter onto the center of the circles traced on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Make small circles as the batter tends to spread. Rap the baking sheet firmly against a table or counter top. This helps the macarons hold their rounded shape and helps the pied (little foot) to form.
Dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered, until a slight crust forms on the surface, about 30 minutes to one hour. When the batter no longer sticks to your finger when touched, the drying process is complete.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Position the rack in the center of the oven. Stack the baking sheet with the batter onto an empty baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking time. If the insides of the macarons are still soft after 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 300°F, cover the tray with aluminum foil, and bake for another 2 to 3 minutes. When the macarons are done, remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack. When the macarons are completely cooled, remove them from the baking sheet. Macarons can be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container for about one week.
for the raspberry Swiss buttercream filling:
adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
5 large egg whites
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, cool but not cold
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-4 tablespoons raspberry jam
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water but do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and the color is a milky white, about 2 to 3 minutes.
With the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on low then increase to medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with the paddle attachment. Add the cubed butter and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. If the butter looks like it’s breaking, keep beating until it comes together.
Add the salt and 2 tablespoons of raspberry jam and beat until completely incorporated. Taste buttercream and add more jam for a stronger raspberry flavor.
to assemble your macarons:
Pour the buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe the filling on the flat side of the macaron puff. Cover the bottom puff with another puff, flat side facing in. Gently press the top puff into place.