Could the afternoon hold a more sublime experience than sampling delicate French cookies while sipping a favorite blend? Savor the mingling of fruit and herb in delectable lavender-hued Blackberry-Thyme Macarons.
Makes 25 to 27
- ½ cup (120 grams) egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
- 1¾ cups plus 3 tablespoons (231 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1½ cups (144 grams) superfine blanched almond flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3½ tablespoons (42 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) blackberry extract
- 3 drops violet gel food coloring*
- 4½ tablespoons (84 grams) seedless blackberry jam
- 1 teaspoon (1 gram) chopped fresh thyme
- Mascarpone Buttercream (recipe follows)
- Garnish: fresh thyme leaves
- Place egg whites in a medium bowl, and let stand at room temperature for exactly 3 hours. (Aging the egg whites in this manner is essential to creating perfect macarons.)
- Line 2 to 3 rimmed baking sheets with nonstick baking mats. Using a permanent marker, draw 1½-inch circles 1 inch apart on a sheet of parchment paper. Place template under 1 nonstick baking mat.
- In the work bowl of a food processor, place confectioners’ sugar, almond flour, and salt; process until well combined and mixture is a uniform, fine texture, scraping down sides of bowl, as needed. Sift confectioners’ sugar mixture twice using a fine-mesh sieve; use a spatula or a whisk to press mixture through sieve, as needed. (If you do not have a food processor, sift together confectioners’ sugar, almond flour, and salt three times.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Increase mixer speed to high, and beat until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute. Gently fold in confectioners’ sugar mixture in thirds, adding blackberry extract and food coloring with last addition. (Properly folded macaron batter will move in a fluid, slow-moving ribbon and will be able to make a figure 8.)
- Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch round tip*. Holding tip perpendicular to pan, pipe batter onto drawn circles of template underneath mat. Apply pressure to bag, leaving tip stationary, until batter reaches drawn circle. Release pressure, and move piping tip in a quick circular motion as you finish piping each macaron shell to prevent a point from forming on top. Remove template carefully and place under second baking mat to pipe batter. Repeat procedure with remaining batter. Tap pans vigorously on counter several times, rotating pan 180 degrees each time, to release air bubbles; use a thin wooden pick to pop and fill any large bubbles, tapping pans firmly again to smooth. Let stand at room temperature until a skin forms on top of macaron shells, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Batter should feel dry to the touch and should not stick to your finger.)
- Preheat oven to 275°.
- Bake, one pan at a time, until shells are firm to the touch, about 15 minutes, rotating pan every 5 minutes. Let cool completely on pans.
- Place jam in a small, microwave-safe bowl; microwave on high in 15-second intervals, stirring between each until softened and warm. Stir in thyme.
- Place Mascarpone Buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a small French open-star pastry tip. Pipe buttercream around edge of flat side of half of macaron shells. Spoon approximately ½ teaspoon jam mixture in center of each. Place remaining macaron shells, flat side down, on top of buttercream. Garnish with thyme, if desired. Macarons are best enjoyed the same day they are made but can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
*We used AmeriColor Violet Soft Gel Paste and Wilton No. 2A and No. 32 decorating tips.
Makes approximately 1 cup
- ⅓ cup (76 grams) unsalted butter, softened (see Note)
- ¾ cup (90 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 ounces (85 grams) mascarpone cheese, softened (see Note)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. With mixer at low speed, gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating just until combined. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl.
- Fold mascarpone in by hand just until combined. (Do not overmix; mascarpone will start to break down.) Use immediately.
Note: For best results, it’s important that the butter and mascarpone for this buttercream are both softened and at about the same temperature. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each is an easy way to gauge when they are ready to use. Our butter and mascarpone were at about 65°. Try to handle the buttercream as minimally as possible; overworking could cause the mascarpone to start breaking down.
To discover a bounty of macaron flavors and their recipes, see “Heavenly Macarons” in the May/June 2021 issue, available on newsstands and at Victoriamag.com.