Heart Macarons

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and I am excited to share my heart shaped (well, sort of) macarons filled with strawberry Swiss meringue butter cream.

Are you pro or con about this day?  I have always enjoyed this day, but when I had children and grandchildren, it gave it a whole new meaning.  I’ve always loved baking goodies and buying little gifts and trinkets for them.

I taught and worked with children for 29 years (Preschool and Kindergarten age).   It was always fun having Valentine parties, enjoying yummy cupcakes, handing out cards to all their classmates. Making crafts and playing games!  So much fun!!

Speaking of fun, I’d like to share a few fun facts about this romantic day that I found on the internet. You’re welcome!

  • Valentine’s Day is the second largest card giving day of the year, just after Christmas. I love getting homemade cards from my grandchildren.
  • The “box of chocolates” (sorry, I just had a Forrest moment) tradition started by Richard Cadbury in the 19th Century,  jumped at the opportunity to make selling boxes of chocolates as a part of this “sweet” day.  While Valentine’s Day goes back to Roman times, giving candy (conversation hearts, heart shaped boxes of chocolates and truffles) is a more recent development.  More than 36 million heart shaped boxes are sold every year….that’s a LOT of chocolate!!
  • According to Smithsonian, ‘Vinegar Valentines’ (also called penny dreadful) were contradictory to conventional valentines and were used to humorously reject and mock unwanted admirers. You definitely don’t want to get one of those!
  • During the Middle Ages, men would write on their sleeves, the names of the women they would be coupled with in the upcoming year. They would do this while attending a Roman festival honoring Juno. They did this to show their bond during the celebration.  Hence the term “wearing your heart on your sleeve”.
  • ‘Sweethearts’ candies started out as medicine. According to Food Business News, Oliver Chase (a pharmacist and inventor) created a machine that would make throat lozenges quickly.  The machine was later switched to make candy (known as Necco Wafers).  In 1866 his brother came up with the idea to print messages on the candy.  In 1901 they got their heart shape. Appealing to Valentine’s Day Sweethearts.
  • Cupid has two different arrows in his quiver; one (the gold arrow) to cause people to fall in love, and a lead arrow that repels love (or causes one to fall “out” of love.
  • Almost half of yearly marriage proposals will happen on Valentine’s Day and half of women would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day (that’s harsh…ouch!!!).
  • All over the world, over 50 million roses are given on Valentine’s day each year. Red roses are most commonly associated with this day because it was the favorite flower of Venus.  My favorite flower is the daisy and my favorite color is yellow, so if my Valentine wants to woo me, that will happen with daisies (not roses).  Take that Venus!!

With all that being said, I think your Valentine would love to receive these heart-shaped macarons, or you could just make a batch for yourself!

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg whites (100 grams) room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 2 drops pink gel food coloring
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (198 grams)
  • 1 cup finely ground almond flour (96 grams)
  • pinch of kosher salt

Instructions:

Prepare baking sheets with silicone pads or parchment paper.  This is a matter of preference.  I use silicone mats, but I have had success with parchment paper too.

Wipe mixing bowl, whisks and mats (if you’re using them) with white vinegar or lemon juice to be sure there are no traces of oil.  Oil will break your meringue and it won’t mix properly.  Please don’t skip this step!

Measure the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and salt and place in a medium mixing bowl (I like to use a scale when I’m baking.  This ensures a consistent outcome in your baking.  They are very reasonable in price and I highly recommend purchasing one).

I don’t use a food processor to mix the almond flour/confectioners’ sugar mix.  I use a hand sifter, and sift back and forth between two bowls (4-5 times).  Discard any large bits.  This makes for really smooth and shiny shells and an overall beautiful macaron!

After sifting, set aside while mixing the meringue.

Place the egg whites in your mixing bowl that’s been wiped with the vinegar.  Start mixing on a low speed for two minutes or until the eggs start to foam.  Add the cream of tartar and mix for another minute.

Gradually add in the sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Increase the speed of your mixer and mix for 2-3 more minutes.  You can tell when your meringue is ready when you have stiff peaks and you can turn your mixing bowl upside down with nothing falling out.  Add the vanilla and food color and mix until incorporated.  Do not over mix your egg whites as this will cause your shells to crack!

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Meringue before the flour/sugar mixture is added.

 

Add the flour/sugar mixture in 1/3 increments to the meringue.  Gently fold and pull the spatula through the batter.  Do it until no dry ingredients are visible.  Continue to fold and pull the spatula through the center. Start to gently press the batter up the side of your bowl as you continue to fold and mix. Do this until the batter flows slowly off the spatula and you can form a figure eight.

Place batter into a decorating bag with a circle tip.  Pipe hearts on silicone mat about 3/4 inches apart.  If you don’t have a mat with heart templates, you can find templates on the internet.  You can place them under your mat or parchment to use as a guide.  Remove the template before baking.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Allow the macarons to dry for 30-40 minutes.  You should be able to run your finger across the top without it sticking.  A thin shell should form.

After the macarons have dried, place them in the oven and bake for 11 minutes.  They will start getting their “feet” around three minutes in (I love watching this!).  Check to see if the tops move.  If they wiggle, bake at two minute increments until they finish baking.  They usually are finished baking in 16-17 minutes.

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Look at those beautiful feet and smooth tops!

Remove from the oven and allow your macarons to cool completely.  The shells should pop off the mat or parchment.

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I brushed some pink luster dust on the macarons.  It makes them look even prettier (if that’s possible)

 

I filled these macarons with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream.  I used my Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe and added 4 tablespoons of Strawberry Filling.  Allow your macarons to mature for at least 24 hours (I won’t judge if you don’t wait to taste one).

I loved sharing these and I think they would make a wonderful gift for your Valentine, but make sure you save some for yourself!

I hope you make these.  Don’t be intimidated by these treats.  With a little practice, you will be making these little gems with ease.  If you do make them, tag me on Instagram @goodeatsbymimi.  I’d love to see your photos!

 

 

 

 

 

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