Pina Colada Macarons and a Few Things I’ve Learned Along the Way

I know, I know, the blog world is overrun with macarons right now and the fact that I haven’t perfected these makes me that much more hesitant to post, but I recently read a post from that was titled Macarons Are For Eating (if you’re interested, she has loads of posts on perfecting the macaron. You could spend all day just reading her posts about making these dainty treats). I’m sure someone out there could take this and perfect it. Macarons are so finicky that if I wanted to, I could run through this a few more times and get them to turn out. So I’m posting it to share my little bit of inspiration and because whether or not they look perfect, they still tasted amazing. Which is the point, right?

Call me crazy, but just about whenever I see some sort of flour other than, say, traditional wheat flour, or almond flour, I almost always think, “could you make a macaron with that?” There have been a few times when I’ve seen coconut flour and asked myself that same question. A couple of weeks ago I was at Costco with my mom and we saw a bag of coconut flour. I asked this question. She responded, “I don’t know, let’s try it” and proceeded to put the bag in the cart. I love my mom. This is Costco, we’re talking about, so said bag of flour was not small.

Last week my mom decided to bust out the huge bag of coconut flour and try it out on pancakes. I’m so glad she did. They tasted great, but their texture was far from it, it almost felt like you replaced the flour with shredded coconut, not coconut flour. It had me seriously rethinking using it for macarons. But I figured she bought that bag because I asked if she thought we could make macarons with them, so I felt I should at least give it a go. If they didn’t turn out, at least they would most likely taste good, right?

If you’ve never made macarons before, I’ll let you in on a little secret. They can either be infuriating, or addicting. And I don’t mean just eating them, but the desire to make them. Right after finishing making these I was already thinking about trying a different flavor. If I could have, meaning little G wasn’t begging me to hold him throughout most of this process, I would have made a second batch right away. Be warned, these beauties, in all their high maintenance, have a strange power which makes the baker obsess over achieving perfection, which means practice. Lots of practice.

I know this batch had a few flaws. Here is what I’ve learned:

Tip #1 use a kitchen scale. I typically use one when making macarons, but mine was in London and I am in Utah, so I had to forgo it this time. I have found if you don’t want to invest in a scale just yet, this Martha Stewart recipe seems to be pretty good, but follow it exactly.

Tip #2 buy your own almond flour instead of grinding it with a food processor, unless you have incredible patience, or would like to develop this skill. I got so sick of sifting and regrinding when it was time to sift my flours with the powdered sugar, I semi bypassed this step.

Tip #3 don’t skip sifting the flours and powdered sugar together. This is where you will get rid of lumps.

Tip #4 you need to whip your egg whites just right. Too little and you don’t have a proper meringue, too much and you won’t have a smooth shell.

Tip #5 as hard as it may be, let your macarons age with the filling for a day. I know this May be difficult to do, but I promise, the wait is worth it. They get better filled, and left in the refrigerator. Mine were much better tasting and a better texture than they were right out of the oven.

(In case any of you care to know, we have a flat, once again! Thanks for all the prayers and good vibes sent our way. That is a huge stress off our chests. London, we’re ready for you!)

Recipe: I adapted mine from this Martha Stewart recipeIngredients for shells:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar

Pulse confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and coconut flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees. The macarons should release easily when they’re done. If the feet start to pull away from the caps, they need more time.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon filling. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for 24 hours or as long as you can handle. Devour with pleasure.

Ingredients for filling:
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup ground freeze dried pineapple or 1 teaspoon pineapple extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar and pineapple a cup at a time until smooth and creamy.

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