Cherry Limeade French Macarons

Nothing says refreshing summer day like Cherry Limeade– it is the perfect balance of sweet fruit and puckery sour.  Cherry Limeade French Macarons are this refreshing summer beverage in adorable French cookie form.  Oooh la la!

What are we waiting for?  Let’s do this!

Cherry Limeade French Macarons

Macaron Ingredients:

100 g. egg whites

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

50 g. white sugar

200 g. powdered sugar

110 g. almond flour

Pink and Lime green food coloring gel (I recommend Americolor watermelon and electric green)

Cherry Limeade Filling:

1/4 cup real butter

Pinch salt (if you are using salted butter, you can leave this out)

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp. key lime extract (you may add more or less, depending on your tastes)

A few drops milk (may be a squidge more or less, depending on what type of milk and butter you use– you may not have to add the milk at all.  Start with less and add it slowly if you need to.  You need your icing to be a nice, pipeable consistency.  Less milk is more.)

Cherry Preserves (homemade or purchased)

Whip room temperature egg whites, cream of tartar, and white sugar with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer until the whites reach stiff peak stage.  Meanwhile, pulse your almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor until the mixture is well combined.  Sift your almond flour/powdered sugar mixture through a sieve and throw away the pieces that are too large to pass through the sieve.  When the whites have whipped into stiff peaks, fold the almond/sugar mixture into the whites gradually and carefully until they reach proper “macaronage.”  Place 2-3 drops of gel food coloring into the batter and swirl gently before carefully pouring into a piping bag.  Pipe meringue circles onto a silpat using a template, if desired, and slam the cookie sheets several times on the counter to dislodge air bubbles.  Allow circles to dry for 20 minutes before baking at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, one sheet at a time, in the center of the oven (move oven racks, if necessary).  Do not open the oven until the 20 minutes are up, and use an oven thermometer for best results.  When your macarons are done they should feel “firm on their feet.”  If the macaron shells are soft or crack when gently touched, bake for 2 more minutes and test again until they are firm on their feet.  After baking, remove entire silpat to cooling rack and allow shells to cool, completely, before removing them from the silpat.

To make cherry limeade filling, beat room temperature butter for about a minute until it is light and fluffy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, then key lime extract.  SLOWLY add the milk– you may need a little more or a little less.  Err on the side of too stiff.  Beat the icing for 3-4 minutes with the mixer, until it becomes super fluffy and a consistency that can be piped easily.  Fill cooled shells with circles of key lime buttercream and fill centers with a small dollop of cherry preserves. Cover finished macarons with plastic wrap and allow them to to chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours until you are ready to serve them.

Now, in pictures! 🙂

It’s funny, isn’t it, how many amazing things we can make with eggs?  You can make ice cream, Crème Brûlée, lemon meringue pie, and or course, French Macarons!  There is nothing more beautiful than a shiny, satiny twist of meringue.  And of course, that lovely meringue is the perfect base for le petit macaron.

If you are new to macaron making, there is a more detailed post about beginning the process here.  Otherwise, I’ll assume you are all macaron mavens, and we will move on!

Marvelous macaron mavens, may I manifest this majestic mountain of magnificence?

Haha.  Seriously, though.  The little sifted mountain of powdered sugar and almond flour always makes me want to hitch on tiny snow skies and go skiing.

Well, that is, if I were like an inch tall.

And if you were an inch tall how would you hold the huge sifter to make said mountain in the first place?

Um.  I don’t have an answer . . . for that.  *awkward throat clearing*

Moving on!

I was making several different kinds of macarons the day I took these photos, and silly me . . . I got photos of the purple ones instead of the lime green.  Sigh.  Please forgive me and just look at my purple photos as if you were colorblind and happy.

What I WAS going to say before I lost my mind, imaginary shrunk to 1 inch tall, and started thinking that green was purple, was that I add “mount marvelous” (sifted powdered sugar and almond flour) to my meringue in 3 parts.  Stir a bit and add another third.  Stir and add.  You don’t want to overwork the batter, so make a few “J folds” to make sure that you get to the bottom without overmixing.  J folds are just what they sound like– bringing your spatula down the center and sweeping to the left.  Rotate the bowl and repeat– this helps all the ingredients to get mixed in.

I have heard proper macaron batter described in many ways (none of which made any sense to me).  I have heard it described as “magma.”  Um.  I don’t know about you, but if a volcano was erupting nearby I wouldn’t be timing it to make cookies.  I’d be hoofing it out of there.

I have also heard it described as “ribboning” off the spatula.  I’m sorry . . . what?  What the heck is ribboning.  I have no idea.

To me, the correct macaron batter will be similar in consistency to honey, or maybe brownie batter.  It should be thick enough that if you hold a spoonful of it up and tip your spoon, the thick batter will do that little “folding over itself” trick.  But it shouldn’t flow like water, or be liquidy at all.  Kind of a flowing pancake batter is what you want here.

What the HECK is that thing?  An ALIEN???

Although that would be really cool, sadly no.  This is a little dehumidifier.  You see, macaron shells need to dry out a little bit before you bake them, or they will crack in the oven.  And in the super humid, disgustingly sweaty, steamy state of Virginia, anything dry seldom happens in the summer.  So when I make macarons in the summer I use a dehumidifier in my kitchen.  If you’re having trouble with your macarons cracking or getting hollow shells, drop 20 bucks and get yourself a dehumidifier.  It will up your macaron game.

See how in the first photo, the shells are shiny and wet?  This photo is after they have dried in front of the dehumidifier for about 20 minutes.  They are matte rather than shiny, and if you take a finger and gently press the side of one, you won’t get any batter on your finger.  The shells are now dried enough to bake without cracking.

Cherry Limeade French Macarons

If you want to make sure that your macarons are all the same size, you can slip a paper template (there are lots of free printables online) underneath the silpat as you pipe.  Just be sure to remove the template before you bake.  Ahem.  I wouldn’t know this from experience or anything, but having the paper template underneath while you bake is NOT a good idea . . . *clears throat and looks at the ground awkwardly*

Cherry Limeade French Macarons

Bake your macarons at 300 degrees for roughly 20 minutes, one tray at a time, in the center of the oven.  I know it’s tempting, but try to avoid opening the oven.  At the very end, gently “wiggle” a shell. If it feels squishy on its base, then they need a few more minutes.  If it’s firm on its feet, the shells are done.

Cherry Limeade French Macarons

Let the shells cool completely on their silpats before you try to remove them.  If you try to take warm cookies off a cookie sheet, well . . . you get smooshed, warm cookies.

Don’t smoosh.  Be kind. Let cool.

Cherry Limeade French Macarons

While the shells are cooling, go ahead and whip up your lime buttercream.  Then you will be ready to fill these babies when they are cooled, which means you get cookies faster.

You’re so smart.  I love working with you.

Cherry Limeade French Macarons

Pipe a small circle of buttercream not quite to the edge of one of your shells.  This will leave a little nest in the center, which of course, you will fill with cherry jam.  Goodness you’re so good at this.  You’re a natural.  Did anyone ever tell you that?

Gently twist a matching sized shell on top of the filled one.  Don’t squish it together.  You have a perfect little flavor bomb– don’t burst it until it’s time to take a bite. 🙂

Cherry Limeade French Macarons

Macarons need to chill out in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for about a day before you eat them.  A crunchy macaron is a macaron that hasn’t had a chance to rest.  Macarons should not crunch.  A perfect macaron should be almost the consistency of nougat– one perfect, chewy bite.

Um . . . could I please have another? 🙂

You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.

 

 


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