An unexpected surprise was recently finding my stash of dried barberries I had picked up at a Christmas Market in Holland this past holiday season and used to make biscotti. Luckily, even after all this time, they were still juicy and bursting with tart flavor so I felt compelled to use them up immediately and not tempt fate or their possible expiration date any further.
Always trying to find an alternative to buttercream to put between two French macaron shells, I heated the barberries with some water, sugar and cornstarch to form a spread. Instead of pureeing them, I intentionally left the mixture chunky for a more fun mouth feel.
Pairing them with mint shells was a good decision. The sweet mellow mint flavor combined with the tart berries turned out to be a perfect combo.
These should be gorgeous looking to complement their fabulous flavors but alas, the shells browned a little, which always bums me out. However, the taste was terrific and I felt compelled to post them anyway. So please excuse their ugly feet.
Mint Macarons with
Barberry Spread Filling
For the Mint 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
- 1/2 teaspoon pure mint extract
- 110 Grams of almond flour*
- Pinch of cream of tarter
- Pinch of salt
- Green paste or powdered food coloring (optional)
*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 mixture to the egg white mixture and fold, using quick strokes at first then slow down. Add the mint flavor and green food coloring if you like. 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 barberry spread filling:
- 1 cup dried barberries
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Place the barberries and water in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
- Once the berries have started to soften use the spoon to smooth them, breaking them up a bit.
- Add the sugar stirring until dissolved.
- When most of the water has evaporated, remove from heat and quickly stir in the cornstarch.
- Let cool completely before spreading on macaron shells.