I should actually say I am rocking a shade of red. I think the color is perfect to represent peonies but maybe these should be a deeper screaming red for this occasion.
I, along with countless other bloggers, are turning their blogs red (in my case, a baked good) for National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The Red Pump Project® is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. They empower, educate, and motivate action by boldly driving conversation online and offline around HIV prevention and issues related to sexual and reproductive health. They use the Red Pump as a symbol of empowerment to represent the strength and courage of women affected by HIV/AIDS. The sobering stats are at the end of this post.
Awhile back I mentioned I bought some powdered flavors to use in French Macarons. I posted the Jasmine flavored macs but said I would wait until spring to experiment with the other flavors. Spring is nowhere in sight here in the northeast of the USA but I was in the mood to bust out those flavors and make this batch of denial French Macarons.
It's hard to describe this flavor. It definitely is floral but surprisingly pleasing. I used boring vanilla buttercream to fill them because the shell flavor was so strong and distinct I didn't want to mess with it.
A very unique French Macaron. Definitely a celebration of spring.
Peony French Macarons with
Vanilla Buttercream Filling
For the Peony French macaron shells:
Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements.
- 90 grams of egg whites - aged at least 2 days. Let them sit out on the counter uncovered.
- 25-50 grams of fine granulated sugar
- 200 grams of powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Peony flavor powder
- 110 Grams of almond flour*
- Pinch of cream of tarter
- Pinch of salt
- Red paste food coloring
*You can buy almond flour that has been ground with or without the skin. I use the later (blanched). The former looks really nice if you are not coloring the shells. You can also grind your own almond flour by putting whole or sliced almonds in a food processor or blender. If you do, make sure you throw a little of the powdered sugar in to prevent the almonds from forming a paste.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.
- Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together or pulse them together briefly in a food processor. Make sure there are no large pieces.
- Whip the egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly add the sugar. Continue whipping until you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing slides out. Add the pinches of salt and cream of tartar.
- Add the powdered sugar/almond to the egg white mixture and fold, using quick strokes at first then slow down. Add the peony flavor and red food coloring. The batter should have a "flowing like lava" consistency. Make a peak of the batter and if it does not disappear after 5-7 seconds, keep folding. If it's running all over the place, you will probably have to start over.
- Place a pastry bag fitted with a round shaped tip in a tall water and and fold the edges down around the glass.
- Fill the pastry bag with the macaron batter, twist the open top to secure and pipe circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a Silpat.
- Let the macarons dry for about a half hour or until they harden.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place the macarons on the middle rack in the oven. I keep the oven door propped open with a dish towel or wooden spoon.
- I place another empty baking sheet on top to prevent the shells from becoming toasted and discolored.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- When checking them after 10 minutes or so, if the ones in the back of the sheet seem to be cooking faster that the ones in front, flip the tray around.
- To test to see if they are done, peel the baking paper or silpat back, if the shell comes off easily, they are done.
- If you do have a problem with the shells sticking to the surface when removed from the oven, lift up the baking paper and pour a bit of water underneath. this will steam them off the paper.
- Transfer to a baking rack and let cool completely before matching up the shells into pairs according to size and then fill.
For the Vanilla buttercream:
- 1 stick butter at room temperature
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the butter, 2 cups of the powdered sugar and the milk in a mixer and cream together.
- Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Add the rest of the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until combined. If the mixture is too liquid, add more powdered sugar.
- Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip and pipe some buttercream on a macaron shell.
- Cover with matching shell