Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Heart Shaped Red Velvet Macarons with Cream Cheese Filling



With February upon us, and the Super Bowl over, I think it is safe to bring out the Valentine’s-themed desserts.  Thought I really don’t discriminate against any holidays, Valentine’s Day does rank near the top of my favorite’s list.


What’s not to love about a holiday nearly dedicated to sweets and to telling your family & friends how much you love them? So consider yourselves warned that several Valentine’s themed posts may loom on the horizon :)



I spent several days last month making, decorating, styling & photographing fun Valentine’s treats, with the hope of selling some of them for Small Batch: Pastry & Preserves. However, some unexpected things have popped up, making the second half of February and beginning of March EXTREMELY busy, and unfortunately, my work with Small Batch: Pastry & Preserves may have to take a brief hiatus.


Lucky for you, dear readers, this hiatus means that I’m going to share the recipe for these heart-shaped red velvet macarons with you! I simply adapted my favorite vanilla macaron recipe, adding a hint of cocoa & a good amount of red gel coloring, to turn it into a red velvet macaron.  Since red velvet cake is classically paired with cream cheese icing, I added cream cheese filling to the macarons.


As if macarons themselves aren’t finicky enough, I decided to pipe the super red batter in heart shapes.  This heart shaped piping does take some practice & I do recommend printing out a heart template to place underneath your parchment paper. I piped one half of the heart & then the second half so that they met in the middle at the bottom point.  My husband came home from work as they were going through the drying process, and the first words out of his mouth were, “Ooooo! Butt shaped macarons!”


I simultaneously burst in the laughter & face palmed.  And then, of course, I had to instagram the entire thing .  Thankfully, once they were baked, they looked more “normal.”



NOTES: 

  • Macarons do take practice, so if you've never made them before and want to make them for someone special for Valentine's Day, I'd suggest at least one practice session before hand.  Any less-than-perfect macarons are wonderful when broken up and added to an ice cream sundae!  
  • I used Americolor 4.5 Oz Super Red Soft Gel Paste, along with Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Can-8 oz to achieve the Red Velvet color and flavor. 
  • To make my heart-shaped template for underneath the parchment paper, I used the heart character from the font "Zapf Dingbats," enlarged it to my preferred size (120 pt), and repeated it throughout an entire piece of paper.  Then I printed a few copies of the page & slid it underneath the parchment before piping.  Alternately, you could trace hearts, but I think the printing is easier!  Just don't forget to slide the printed pages back out after the piping is done.  
  • I do not recommend dipping your finger in water and smoothing out imperfections on the macaron shells.  I tried it on a few, but it only caused the surface to have funny bubbles once baked.  

RED VELVET MACARON SHELLS
makes approximately 70 hearts (if you use my template instructions above) which equates to 35 sandwiches.  

81g     Almond Flour
108g   Confectioners Sugar
1 tsp    Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder
63 g    Egg Whites, at room temp 
1.5 g   Meringue Powder
pinch  Sea Salt
36 g    Granulated Sugar
Red gel food color, as needed  

  1. Prepare 2 sheet pans by lining them with parchment paper.  Slide the heart shaped template underneath the parchment, if planning to pipe heart shapes.  Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip {I used an Ateco 804} 
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almond flour, confectioners sugar and cocoa.  Once processed, sift the mixture and remove any large pieces.  
  3. Whip the egg whites on medium speed. in the very clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Stir together the granulated sugar, sea salt, and meringue powder. Once the whites are foamy, gradually add the granulated sugar mixture.  Increase the mixer speed to high.  Continue whipping until the mixture forms medium peaks.  
  4. Begin adding the red gel food color, while mixing at medium speed.  Add enough to make the batter very red.  Once your desired color level has been reached, increase the mixer back up to high & mix until the meringue forms stiff peaks.  
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until everything is completely combined into a shiny mass & the mixture forms ribbons that will dissipate.  Remember, you can always add more folds later, but you cannot take them back!  
  6. Test the mixture by piping a test shape.  If the piped shape holds a peak (like a hershey's kiss) that will not dissipate after you bang the sheet pan on the counter, the mixture needs a little more folding before the rest of the shells are piping.  When the mixture reaches the proper consistency, pipe the heart shapes. 
  7. Bang the pans of piped macarons on the counter, then allow the shells to dry for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the humidity, to allow them to develop a skin over the surface.  
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Once the macarons have developed their skin, slide the pans into the preheated oven.  Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 300 F. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pans & bake for another 8 to 10 minutes (or until the macarons can nearly be peeled from the pan). The residual heat from the pan will finish the baking process once the macarons are removed from the oven.  
  9. Allow the shells to cool completely before filling. 
  10. While the filled macarons can sit at room temperature, I recommend refrigerating them, if they are not going to be consumed that day.  Allow them to come back up to room temperature before eating.  
CREAM CHEESE FILLING
note, this will make more filling than you need, but the leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen for a future use.  

4 oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
2 oz Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
8 oz Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract

  1. 1.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cheese and the butter until the ingredients are well combined.  Add the confectioners sugar & vanilla & beat until combined.  
  2. To fill the macarons, either spread a little of the filling on the bottom of the macaron or pipe a little bit.  Top with the second macaron.  
  3. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.


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