Heart to Heart
By Angela Denstad Stigeler
Have a little something you’d like to say to your Valentine? Go beyond words with these sweet little French sandwich cookies known as macarons. Darling of the pastry world, macarons line Parisian pastry shelves in all imaginable colors and flavors. Despite this dazzling array, they all start with a simple almond meringue and a delectable filling du jour—anything from simple frosting or buttercream, to chocolate ganache or sweetened whipped cream.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m combining a whole host of Cupid’s classics with these sweetheart macarons. Piped into pretty pink hearts, they’re scented with rosewater and can be filled with any manner of chocolate spread or strawberry preserves. Let a tray full of these little sweets send your message, whether it be “Thick or thin, I’ve got your back!,” “Valentine, I’m stuck on you!,” or “Two hearts as one,” these are the ultimate way to send your heart-to-heart greeting, and maybe spark a little conversation, too.
¾ cup ground almonds
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 extra large egg whites
¼ cup superfine sugar
½ teaspoon rosewater
pink food coloring paste (optional)
Place the ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and process for 15 seconds. Sift the mixture into a bowl. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whip until holding soft peaks. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar to make a firm, glossy meringue. Beat in enough food coloring to give a pale pink color. Using a spatula, fold the almond mixture into the meringue one-third at a time. When all the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbon-like consistency.
Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip. Pipe heart shapes onto the prepared baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets firmly onto a work surface to remove air bubbles. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Bake the macarons one sheet at a time in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes. If, after six minutes, they seem to be overbrowning or cracking, reduce the oven temperature. The macarons are done when they have a crisp shell and do not wobble when gently lifted.
Allow the macarons to cool on the sheet for ten minutes, then gently peel them from the paper and allow to cool completely. Fill as desired, spreading filling on the bottom of one heart and sandwiching another heart on top.
The unfilled shells can be kept in an airtight container for up to four days or frozen for up to one month.