Most days are spent running around between work and errands, throwing dinner together at the last minute, and whipping up a quick one-bowl batter or treat if time allows. But some days are specifically reserved for baking projects, kitchen experiments, and fancy pastries. French macarons definitely fall into this category.
With Mother's Day just around the corner, these Raspberry-Coconut French Macarons are the perfect treats. Spend some quality time on them and then share with your loved ones.
I love the idea of food as edible gifts. Whether it's making big batches of seasonal jam or homemade candies, it is fun to spend time cooking and packaging items to share with others. French macarons are themselves like little gems, making them the most perfect bite-sized presents.
Spending a whole afternoon making dozens of macarons might seem like a lot of time just so they can be gobbled down in a bite or two, but giving them as gifts will surely let someone know how special you think they are. And hey, that special person can even be yourself. When you are biting past the crisp but chewy outer shell and into the delicious filling, be sure to savor the moment before giving yourself a nice pat of the back for a job well done.
The pink shells of these macarons are not only pretty but flavorful too. I've added finely ground, freeze-dried raspberries to the almond flour for sweetness and color. The raspberry flavor is subtle, but pairs beautifully with the coconut filling.
As we head toward summer, the delicate combination of raspberry and coconut is a refreshingly light pairing to be enjoyed just before the peak of berry season. Serve them at a late-spring brunch, with afternoon tea and good conversation, or for Mother's Day.
Never made macarons before? Be sure to check out these helpful tips and tutorials before getting started:
For the shells:
120 grams ground almond flour
228 grams powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons freeze-dried raspberries, finely ground
140 grams egg whites
70 grams granulated sugar
Pinch cream of tartar
Pink gel food coloring (optional)
For the filling: 280 grams good white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whole fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon coconut extract or emulsion (optional)
For the shells: Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside a baking sheet and draw 1 1/2- to 2-inch circles on the parchment. Flip the paper over so that the ink or pencil markings are not on the cooking surface, but are still visible through the paper. Alternatively, cover the parchment with a Silpat, but make sure you can still see the circles through the Silpat.
Sift together the ground almond flour, powdered sugar, and powdered freeze-dried raspberries in a large mixing bowl.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment. Begin whipping egg whites on medium speed until they start to foam. Add the granulated sugar and turn mixer up to medium-high speed for about 5 minutes. Once egg whites are fairly fluffy, add the cream of tartar and turn up to high speed. Continue for another few minutes until the egg whites hold stiff, but not dry, peaks. (See this post for more details on whipping egg whites.) Be sure not to over mix or the meringue will start to break down. Add the food coloring during the last minute of mixing.
Add half of the meringue to the dry mixture. Using a rubber spatula, give the mixture about 5 big folds (see this post for more details on folding). Add the remaining meringue and continue to fold. Begin smoothing out the batter by pressing the mixture around the sides of your mixing bowl while turning the bowl and knocking a bit of the air out of the meringue. Continue to fold the batter up and over from the bottom of the bowl, making sure there are no dry clumps left behind. Mix until the batter makes thick, lava-like, ribbons. Do not over-mix.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain, round piping tip (about 1/2-inch wide). Fill the pastry bag with batter and carefully pipe out dollops of batter onto the parchment, using the circles as a size guide. Once one tray is full, set the pastry bag aside. Rap the baking sheet against the work surface 2 to 3 times to eliminate any trapped air bubbles.
Let macarons rest for about 20 minutes, or until the tops of the rounds are dry and not sticky to the touch. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 325°F. Bake the macarons for 9 to 10 minutes. Check to see if they are done by gently wiggling the top shell. If the shells feel attached, they are done. If not, bake for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Let cool slightly before removing from the parchment or Silpat. Match together similar-sized shells and set aside.
For the filling:
Place chopped white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl. Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring the coconut milk to a slight simmer and then pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 15 to 30 seconds before whisking to combine; the warm coconut milk will melt the chocolate. Add the coconut extract, and mix until smooth.
Let filling thicken at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator. Once filling is cool, transfer it to a small pastry bag fitted with a small, round tip. Pipe filling on the half of the shells. Top filling with the second shell.
The most accurate way to make macarons is to measure by weight. The raspberry powder is very light, and may not be picked up well by all kitchen scales, so it is measured in teaspoons.
Be sure that your oven in calibrated or you are using an oven thermometer. Oven temperature is vital to baking times.
When mixing the batter, it is always best to test it early rather than after it is already over-mixed. When batter is smooth yet still thick, take your spatula and create little peaks in the batter. Wiggle the bowl around and see if they fall back into the batter. If they are still standing, then the batter is under-mixed. If they fall back slowly, the batter is just right. If they disappear immediately, then your batter is over-mixed.
If shells are slightly over-baked, do not worry. Fill shells and refrigerate in an air-tight container overnight. The flavors will mature and the filling with help soften up the shells. In fact, some recommend this maturing process for all macarons. Bring back to room temperature before serving.