Sometimes, in the middle of a crazy week, you just need a little bit of a pick-me-up. Something small and sweet. So why not strawberry, red wine, and mascarpone cream macarons, a grown-up adaptation of strawberries'n'cream, with strawberry macaron shells spritzed with a bit of full-bodied, peppery wine, fluffy and tangy whipped mascarpone cream, and the optional wine gelee as the surprise candy center? Yes, I think that might do the trick.
What are your mid-week (or weekend) pick-me-ups?
[Edit: a Twitter friend (@zizikalandjai) named these "red tiny kisses." I like that. :-))
Read on for recipe...
Strawberry and Red Wine Macarons with Mascarpone Cream*
makes ~50 macarons
for macaron shells:
200 gr powdered sugar
120 gr blanched and slivered almonds
10 gr freeze-dried strawberries
30 gr granulated (superfine, opt) sugar
100 gr egg whites, aged 1-2 days at room temperature or a week in the refrigerator, at room temp
1/4 tspn cream of tartar
2-3 drops red gel food coloring
1-2 Tbspn red wine
1. Prepare two baking sheets lined with silpats or parchment paper and a pastry bag with a large round piping tip.
2. Combine the powdered sugar, almonds, and strawberries in a food processor and grind until a fine powder. Sift thoroughly through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, have ready the granulated sugar.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Using a balloon whisk, quickly stir the mixture until the entire surface is covered with foam. Then, start whisking the egg whites, gradually adding in the granulated sugar. Whisk until you reach glossy, almost-stiff peaks.
5. Whisk the food coloring in to the egg whites.
6. Gently fold the sifted almond and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites in three to four stages, just until the ingredients are incorporated and the batter slowly re-absorbs peaks.
7. Transfer the macaron mixture to the prepared piping bag and piping small rounds on to the lined baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets on the table a few times to release air pockets.
8. Rest the macarons for at least 30 minutes (and up to 60), until the outside shells are no longer tacky and sticky to a light touch.
9. Preheat oven to 290 degrees F, with the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
10. Bake the macarons in the oven, one sheet at a time, for 24-28 minutes total, rotating the sheet half-way through the baking time to insure even baking.
11. Remove from oven and let cool.
12. Once the macarons are cool, flip each over and lightly spritz the bottoms of the macarons with red wine using a mister. Fill with mascarpone cream filling (recipe below) and red wine gelees, if using.
13. Let the macarons "cure" in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.
*Note: the resting and oven temperature and times are adjusted to what works in my kitchen and oven (which, to my knowledge and according to two oven thermometers, is quite accurate). Please note that you may have to adjust according to what works in your kitchen and oven. For tutorials or suggestions, notsohumblepie has a few great articles about avoiding maca-wrongs.
Tip: Sifting is key to achieving smooth macaron shells. Usually I'm quite lazy about sifting when it comes to most recipes, but I absolutely won't skip it when it comes to macarons.
Tip: I find that macaron shells form more quickly when resting in an area with decent airflow, so I've taken to turning on my dining room's ceiling fan when resting the macaron shells there prior to baking.
Tip: I bake my macarons with a pizza stone in the bottom-most rack of the oven, helping to insulate against direct heat and promoting even baking.
(Macaron shell recipe adapted from notsohumblepie's here.)
for red wine gelees (optional), I used one fourth of the recipe available here, substituting red wine for both the fruit concentrate and the water and not coating the gelees with sugar at the end.
for mascarpone cream filling:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 lb. mascarpone cheese
2-3 Tbspn powdered sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
1. In a mixer, combine the cream, cheese, and sugar. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form.
2. Stir in the vanilla extract.
3. Use immediately to fill macarons.