strawberry shortcake macarons
Happy Summer! Erin and I are having to really rack our brains for our macaron-of-the-month collab and we have both agreed, it’s getting harder and harder.. Ha! Oh the struggles we have. We’ve really just started shooting out memories and moments from out past and seeing what might create that spark. So as we were doing this, I remembered that summer meant that my family would eat loads of strawberry shortcake. Nothing complex, store-bought cakes, macerated strawberries and cool whip. My mom is not famous for her cooking/baking skills so she always keep things simple. TBH I still love this dessert in her style of creating it. Cool whip is amazing, don’t @ me!
We ran with this idea since the greenmarkets have been full of gorgeous strawberries and it’s a perfect way to start summer. We knew we wanted cream cheese, and used Erins go to german buttercream she’s famous for. We then made an ADDICTIVE brown butter pie crumb that we both ate way to much of. It could easily be called “Snacking Crumbs” cause once you start, you seriously can’t stop! We finished it all off with a simple and fresh strawberry filling.
We wanted to create this macaron to have many different appearances by alternating the shell colors, some having sprinkles and using different piping tips. We thought this would be a great way to create versatile macarons without having to make more than one batch! Since summer baking is a give-n-take with turning on the oven on those hot AF day, this concept will give you the most bang for your “heating up your kitchen” buck!
As always, most of the components may be made ahead of time, which will make for an even easier baking day. Also, please check out my Good to Knows, where I have consolidated a bunch of tips for perfecting this particular recipe, as well as baking macarons in general. I hope you enjoy these as much as two kids who just discovered what happens when you add water.
…Good to Knows…
To save space and prevent you from scrolling for hours, I've compiled a section for all my macaron notes from my kitchen journal here! I'll keep this list updated and current as I discover new ideas, tricks and/or tips.
When it comes to colors, this is completely up to your liking. These are meant to be strawberry shortcake vibes, so customize the sprinkles and buttercream colors to your liing. Be creative and have fun!! If you do bake these, I’d love to share in the moment with you. Tag me on instagram @foxandcrane and use my hashtag #foxandcrane so I may see your macaron adventures.
Be aware of the type of sprinkles you are using! There are some that can melt and can cause craters in the shell. Many sprinkle mixes use chocolate balls or sugar-coated candy that, when heated, may melt and disrupt the shell by falling through or disintegrating altogether!
Erin also discovered an amazing parchment. It's seriously macaron magic paper. We haven't had any macarons stick since. You can order this non-stick parchment paper on amazon.
Since we are in the beginning of summer, please be aware that humidity create moist air that can slow down the drying of the macaron shells. Erin and I are very cautious of how weather affects the drying times and bakes of the shells. Shells can become over-dried in a split second. With this summer already being exceptionally humid for us, our drying times have been doubled. So be cautious of this if you haven’t baked macarons in a few months. If your home is on the warmer/humid side, I suggest you turn on your AC while you’re in the drying process.
strawberry shortcake macarons
…makes around 24 sandwich cookies…
170g ground almond flour
300g powdered sugar
180g large brown egg whites (about 5-6 large brown eggs), at room temperature
160g granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or the seeds from one vanilla bean pod
optional: white and pink nonpareil sprinkles
400g fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
125g granulated white sugar
3 tbsp corn starch or tapioca starch
1-2 tbsp (half lemon) fresh lemon juice
just a pinch of salt
113g unsalted butter, browned
2 tbsp granulated white sugar
220g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp + 1 tsp water
Cream Cheese German Buttercream
110g (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) white sugar
12g (1 1/2 tbsp) corn starch
1 large brown egg
1 large brown egg yolk
just a pinch of salt
190ml (3/4 cups) whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, extract, or the seeds from one vanilla bean pod
339g (1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g (8oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
Place strawberries into a medium sauce pan. Toss sugar and corn starch together then add to strawberries and gentle toss until berries are coated. Add water, lemon juice and salt to the sauce pan and heat everything over medium-high heat, smashing mixture with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon as it begins to cook. Continue to stir mixture until it begins to thicken, appox: 10-13 mins and becomes a jam-ish consistency.
Transfer filling to a container and allow to cool completely before using. As is cool, it will set up a but more. This can be made a 2 days in-advance.
Preheat the oven to 350˚f/180˚c. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Heat the butter, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted. Continue cooking until the butter begins to foam and starts to give off a nutty aroma. You will notice it turning a rich, deep golden brown color with little dark bits on the bottom of the pan. This is what you are looking for. Remove pan from the heat and pour the browned butter in a medium heatproof bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and mix well with a rubber spatula until everything is incorporated and you have chunky pebble size pieces. You may use your hands to mix if you'd prefer.
Now spread your pie crumb on your prepared baking sheet and place in oven on the center rack, and bake for 20-25 mins until golden brown. Set pie crumb aside to cool while you prepare your macarons.
Cream Cheese German Buttercream
In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the whole milk and vanilla until they are just moments from simmering. (You're looking for those wisps of seam but no bubbles.) Remove milk mixture from the heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, whole egg, egg yolks and salt until combined.
Now continue whisking with one hand and pour just a bit (about a half cup or so) of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture so that you are tempering the eggs. You do not want to cook them - they will turn to scrambled eggs! Then, while still whisking, add half of the milk mixture and whisk until it's combined, followed by the remaining portion of milk. Once everything is combined, pour the milk/egg mixture back into the medium saucepan.
Now heat the milk/egg mixture over medium heat, again constantly whisking, until it begins to bubble. You do not want it to boil so do not look away. This thickens quickly. Once it has thickened and can coat the back of a spoon, cook for just one minute more. Remove from the heat and pour into a container or mixing bowl and press plastic wrap over the surface. This is a must so that you avoid a think skin from forming and altering the texture.
Place into the refrigerator until cold—a minimum of four hours, or for best results, overnight.
When your macaron shells are ready for filling, place your whisk attachment on your mixer. Press the cool pastry cream through a sieve in order to remove any bits of cooked egg. Add this to your mixer bowl. Slowly add the butter and cream cheese to the custard on medium speed until everything has been added and your buttercream looks creamy, fluffy and lump-free.
Transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a large round ateco #805 tip.
Cut four sheets of light colored parchment paper to fit your baking sheets. Draw 1.5 inch (3.81cm) circles on one sheet of your pre-cut parchment paper to be used as your template guide for piping evenly shaped macarons, spacing them at least ¾ -1 inch apart and about 2 inch from the edge of the pan.
To save you time, here is a printable template. Note: This templet is 8x11. You will need to print two sheets and lay them side by side to fit a half sheet pan.
Scale all dry ingredients. Separate your egg whites and yolks and prepare your equipment.
Sift almond flour and confectioners’ sugar through a medium-mesh sieve and place in a bowl. Repeat this step, discarding any bits that are too big to go through the sieve. Set mixture aside.
Some people like to place the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and pulse them together before sieving. This is usually a great step if your almond flour is not finely ground or if you are making almond flour at home. I use a store-bought flour with a consistency that works great for me, so I don’t do this step but please feel free to try it out for yourself and see what’s best for you.
In your stand mixer bowl, hand whisk your room-temp egg whites till bubbles start to form, then beat them on high speed with the whisk attachment until they start to foam and become cloudy white. Turn down to medium speed, and gradually add granulated sugar to the egg whites until all sugar is incorporated. Turn speed back to high and beat until you start to see stiff, glossy peaks form (about 5 minutes). At this time, add your americolor gel food coloring, if using color, and continue to whip the meringue on medium for a minute more, making sure you don’t over beat your meringue.
For a great guide to measuring meringue peaks and to see what is under-, perfect and over-whipped, check out Zoë François’s instagram stories @zoebakes and her website zoebakes.com. She has the most amazing how-to’s and tip tutorials. Zoë is an invaluable resource for baking!
Once your meringue reaches optimal peaks, slowly start adding your almond flour/confectioner sugar mixture. I like to add this 1/4 at a time. Start to fold the mixture into your meringue using a flat spatula. Tilt the mixing bowl to a 45 degree angle, mix the dry ingredients (1/4 at a time) into the meringue, scooping from the bottom towards you and folding everything onto itself while maintaining the body of your meringue. (Smashing through the center of the mixture will cause the meringue to deflate and we’d need to start from scratch.) Continue to add the dry ingredients with this folding method until everything is added.
At this time, start pressing and spreading the batter against the bowl’s walls. This step, which I think is the hardest to perfect and to understand, is called macaronage.
Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. Repeat this process about 15-30 times.
So here is where I want to explain some things I’ve learned over the years. There are NO set times, folds or strokes. It really depends on how your batter is looking and feeling. While you are folding, pressing and spreading the batter, you want to constantly check the consistency. You are looking for something that resembles a nice lava that slowly flows off your spatula. Erin mentioned to me that as it falls off the spatula, you should be able to draw a figure 8 into the bowl without the stream breaking. The 8 in the bowl should then slowly incorporate back into itself.
Once the batter is to a thick lava consistency, you are ready to pipe your shells. Here is the youtube video I still use as reference for getting my macaronage techniques down.
Now get your prepared piping bag with a round ateco #805 tip. [Make sure to twist and seal the tip of the bag with a clothes pin so the batter doesn’t leak out.] I like to place my pastry bag into a large glass so the bag is upright and sturdy.
Pour all batter into piping bag and again twist and seal the top of the bag with a clothes pin so it’s not exposed to air.
I don’t always do this trick, but sometimes I will seal the top of the bag with a rubber band to make it a bit easier and cleaner when piping. This recipe does make a large amount of batter, so if you aren’t yet confident with holding a larger pastry bag, the rubber band will help. Or you can split this amount into two smaller bags.
It’s now time to pipe your shells. Pipe the batter onto your prepared parchment lined sheet pans fitted with your printed or drawn circle templets. Hold the pastry bag at a 90 degree angle and, with the tip very close to the parchment, pipe the batter until you’ve filled the circle. Quickly lift and twist the bag away creating a small tail to point. If your macaronage is correct, this will fall back into itself and the top will become smooth. The shells will spread just a bit. That is why having a inch of space between them is important.
Once the tray is full, carefully slide out the template and repeat on your other prepared sheet pans. After the trays are full, I like to take a small dab of batter and adhere the corners of the parchment to the sheet pan to make sure the parchment stay in in place during baking.
Firmly tap the sheet pan against the counter or a flat surface a few times. Keep the distribution of the vibrations as even as possible to prevent from deforming your circles to ovals. This step helps the shells hold their rounded shape and knock out as many air bubbles as possible.
Pointer from I Heart Macarons: As macarons bake, small pleat-like frills form at the bottom of each shell. This pleat is called a pied, or “foot”. Without it, the pastry cannot be called a macaron. Some bakers attribute the pied to the macaronage, some to the oven temperature, and some to a good tap of the sheet pan on the counter before baking.
At this time, after you have piped all your shells and before they have formed a skin, ONLY if you’re using a topping such as sprinkles, spices, streusel etc, generously sprinkle the shells with the topping designated for this recipe. If you prefer more or less per macaron, please use your desecration as to how you would like the shells to be topped. Allow shells to start drying.
Preheat your oven to 300˚f / 150˚c and place your rack in the center of the oven, along with an empty sheet pan. You are going to preheat this sheet pan to use as the bottom sheet pan for baking the shells. You always want to have them double tray’d to prevent the bottom of the cookies from burning. I have found that when preheating the second pan, it helps give the shells some extra lift compared to a pan at room temp.
While your oven and sheet pan are preheating, let your shells dry uncovered at room temperature for 15-45 minutes. There’s no “set in stone" time for drying. It’s going to depend on the temperature of your space, the weather and time of year.
As they dry, you are looking for thin skin to form on top like heated milk. You should be able to gently slide your finger across and leave no marks. I like to designate one or two shell as my testers in case one is still tacky and I scar the top.
Once the shells have their skin, place the sheet pan onto the preheated sheet pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the trays once halfway through baking. At the 15-minute mark, check them by lightly pressing on the shell with the back of your finger. If it’s sturdy without movement, they are done. If there’s a little movement on the pied “foot” (the ruffled bottom part), any jiggling at all, they need another minute or two. I will now set the timer at 1-minute intervals and watch them very, very closely. They can go from underdone to overdone in a matter of 60 seconds.
Maracons are a learning experience and no two bakes are the same. Sometimes I have different baking times for the same batch of shells. The key is to be alert to each of your macarons’ needs.
Once they are fully set, place sheet pans on wire racks to cool, leaving the shells on the parchment and on the pan for 15-30 minutes. When the macarons are completely cooled, very carefully remove them from parchment paper by pulling the parchment paper away from the sell. If they are still sticking to the paper, toss into freezer for a few minutes and they’ll easily release from the paper.
…ASSEMBLY and SERVE…
It’s time to play matchmaker! Pair your shells with matching mates of equal size, then pipe cream cheese german buttercream onto the bottom shell in a ring making sure you leave a center for strawberry filling. Place a dollop of strawberry filling into the center. Gently top with its corresponding shell. Finish by pressing pie crumb into the sides of the buttercream. It is best to store your finished macarons in the fridge for a few hours (for optimal results, overnight) to allow the flavors to mingle and “mature” so they develop that ideal soft interior texture with that perfect crisp exterior. Macarons may be refrigerated for about one week or frozen in the freezer for a few months in an airtight container. Enjoy!
Surface: Erickson Surfaces
Sheet Pan: Vintage Ovenex
Porcelain Dishes : Vintage