You get truly deep fruit flavors both in the filling and the macaron shells of these raspberry, banana and blueberry macarons. The macaron shells are flavored with freeze dried fruit that’s been blended and sifted to a fine powder.
Pureed fresh fruit is heightened with freeze dried fruit powder in the filling.
Freeze dried fruit comes in packets such as these. Whole Foods has them in all kinds of flavors. The fruit is whole, so I blended them in the food processor and then sifted them so that only a fine powder remained. Any bits that wouldn’t pass the sifter can be saved for the filling.
I wanted one basic recipe where all the ingredients remained constant and by switching out the fruit you would get an entirely different flavor. So I baked three batches of the same recipe starting with raspberry macarons. I also piped each batch into two different size circles using a 1.75-inch template and a smaller version using a 1.25-inch template. Each batch yielded thirty 1.75-inch macaron shells and eighty 1.25-inch macaron shells, for a total of 55 assembled macarons of both sizes. You could probably get even more out of it if you replace the 1.75-inch circles with 1.5-inch ones.
This is the almond meal/flour I use made from blanched almonds. It’s finely ground but you would still have to sift it to take out any large bits. You can make your own almond meal/flour by blending slivered almonds in the food processor. I find it more of a timesaver, though, to use it in this form. Sifting all of the almond meal/flour ahead of time into a canister is also a timesaver as it’s ready to use whenever you need it.
Here are the raspberry macarons. It’s the same procedure as these previous chocolate macarons where you sift and mix the powdered sugar, almond meal/flour and freeze dried fruit powder together, then mix in egg whites to form a paste.
To make the meringue, you then boil sugar and water in a small pan to form a syrup, then slowly pour the hot syrup in a thin stream into egg whites with the mixer on high. You can add a few optional drops of gel food coloring for raspberry or blueberry macarons. Not too much as you still have a chance to add a few drops more later to get it to the shade you want when blending in the meringue with the almond paste. The meringue should then be beaten until you get stiff peaks. If you pull out the whip, the meringue will hold its shape and look like a bird’s beak.
Fold the meringue in three parts into the paste. When all of the meringue has been folded in, the batter should have a smooth flowing consistency. If all the meringue has been mixed in and the batter is still on the thick side, beat an egg white by hand until it looks a bit like shaving cream. Then gently fold in 2 – 3 teaspoons of this extra egg white to slacken the batter. Note this remedy works well in cold weather and will likely be unnecessary in warm climates. You just have to judge whether or not the batter needs it.
When the batter is close to being fully blended, this is the point where you blend in a few more optional drops of gel food coloring, if you want. Then divide the batter among 3 or 4 icing bags. It’s better to spread it among several bags rather than use just 1 or 2 large bags. Fit the icing bag with a medium round tip. I use tip # 12. You can also just snip off the end of the bag if you don’t have an icing tip, but I find that piping without an icing tip results in a less than perfect circle most of the time. Let the piped batter sit for 20 – 30 minutes until the surface forms a skin and is somewhat dry to the touch. The air in the batter will have no place to to escape but at the bottom forming the feet of the macaron shell. Bake the raspberry or blueberry macarons in a 300°F oven for 15 – 17 minutes. For banana macarons, I lowered the temperature to 275°F as I wanted to avoid over browning and still get them dried out at the same time.
These are the larger 1.75-inch sized macarons.
And here are the bite-size macarons at 1.25 inches, so dainty and cute. All three kinds were very fruity and delicious, but if I had to choose I think my favorite was the batch of banana macarons.
Macarons can indeed be a bit fussy. If you want something easier and straightforward, there’s always shortbread cookies. Here are some that I baked in star shapes. Just beat together 1 cup unsalted butter, ¾ cup powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon almond extract and 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Form the dough into a smooth ball and chill, then roll it out and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes then bake in a 300°F oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly brown. It’s similar to these earlier Uncle Sam and flag cookies, only on a smaller scale.
Choose any one flavor among raspberry, banana or blueberry or make all three over the course of two Saturdays which is what I did. I just stored each batch in the freezer as I made them. Then group the macarons to look like the flag.
Alternatively, you can also switch out the freeze dried fruit with a flavor of your choice.
It’s great to have as many options as possible. You can also just buy macarons in the bake shop, but that would cost a bit more than if you made them yourself, and making them is actually half the fun.
Enjoy and happy baking! Until next time…
- 246 g finely blanched almond meal/flour (2 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons)
- 246 g powdered sugar (2 cups + 2 tablespoons + 2 ½ teaspoons)
- 40 g freeze dried fruit, finely processed and sifted (raspberry or blueberry or banana)
- 100 g egg whites at room temperature (3 egg whites)
- 246 g granulated sugar (1 cup + 3 tablespoons)
- 66 g water (1/3 cup)
- 100 g egg whites at room temperature (3 egg whites)
- Optional: few drops of red gel food coloring for raspberry macarons, or blue gel food coloring for blueberry macarons
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar (175 g)
- 1 ½ cups almond meal/flour (135 g)
- 1 cup powdered milk (95 g)
- ½ cup / 1 stick melted unsalted butter (113 g)
- ½ cup freeze dried fruit finely processed (52 g raspberries / 52 blueberries /61 g bananas)
- 170 g fresh raspberries / blueberries / 1 banana to yield ½ cup pressed fruit juice (110 g blueberry juice / 110 g raspberry juice / one large banana pureed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Optional: few drops of red gel food coloring if making raspberry macarons, or blue gel food coloring for blueberry macarons
- 3 - 4 teaspoons milk (as needed if banana filling needs to be slackened, less for blueberry or raspberry fillings)
- Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Draw or print-out circles to make a template. Blend the freeze dried fruit in a food processor to a fine powder, and then sift. Do not include the large bits that don’t go through the sifter.
- Sift the almond meal/flour by itself, then measure out the required proportion. Do the same for the powdered sugar and freeze dried fruit. Whisk all three measured dry ingredients in a bowl to combine, then sift them again all together.
- Add first set of egg whites to the dry ingredients and mix until it forms a paste. Set aside.
- Place the second half of egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer with a wire whip attachment.
- Place granulated sugar in a small sauce pan. Add the water and gently swirl it around just enough to dampen the sugar evenly. Turn heat on to medium.
- Start whipping the egg whites on low. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 220°F, increase the speed to medium until the meringue is thick and starts to take shape. Reduce the speed to low and wait for the temperature of the sugar syrup to reach 235°F.
- Once the sugar syrup reaches 235°F, increase the mixer speed to medium high and pour the syrup in a thin, slow and steady stream into the egg whites aiming for the egg whites directly between the side of the bowl and the wire whip. Whip in a drop or two of optional gel food coloring, red for raspberry and blue for blueberry. Beat meringue until it has turned glossy and reached stiff peak stage. Do not over whip.
- Using a silicon spatula, take about a third of the meringue and fold it into the almond meal/flour, powdered sugar and freeze-dried fruit paste. Fold by cutting down the center and folding the mixture over at the same time scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Rotate the bowl as you fold over the mixture.
- Add half of the remaining meringue folding in to blend. Repeat with the rest of the meringue. When the batter is almost blended, you can add a drop or two of optional gel food coloring, if you like. The batter is ready when you draw a line with your spatula down the center of the batter and it slowly comes back together in about 3 seconds, like flowing lava. TIP: if the batter has not reached this stage after all the meringue has been blended, you can slacken it by adding 1 – 2 teaspoons of beaten egg white (in warm weather, this remedy will likely not be necessary). The batter should neither be very thick nor very runny. Do not over mix.
- Preheat oven to 275°F if making banana macarons, or 300°F if making raspberry or blueberry macarons.
- Divide the batter among 3 or 4 pastry bags fitted with a medium round tip #12.
- Place your circle template underneath the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Hold the piping bag perpendicular, straight towards the center of the circle. Pipe the batter just until you reach the inner part of the circle. If you leave a mark in the center of the piped batter, this will slowly dissipate and smoothen out by itself in a few minutes. Pull out your template from underneath the parchment paper and transfer it onto the next cookie sheet.
- Gently tap the cookie sheet holding the piped batter on your work surface to release any air pockets.
- Let sit at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes, or however long it takes for the surface of the piped batter to dry and form a skin.
- Repeat piping the rest of the batter on the rest of the cookie sheets. Remember to pull the template out of the last cookie sheet.
- The piped batter is ready for the oven when you lightly touch it and your finger remains dry.
- Bake each cookie sheet for 15 – 17 minutes (275°F for banana macarons and 300°F for raspberry and blueberry macarons). Rotate the cookie sheet halfway into baking after the feet have formed.
- Remove from the oven and let the macarons cool completely on the cookie sheet.
- Melt the butter. Puree one banana until smooth, or if making blueberry or raspberry filling, press the fresh fruit through a sieve to extract the juice.
- In a food processor, blend the melted butter, powdered sugar, powdered milk, almond meal, freeze dried fruit powder, vanilla extract and salt.
- Blend in half of the pureed banana / raspberry or blueberry pressed juice and process until smooth. Add the rest of the pureed fruit juice about a tablespoon at a time and use only enough so that the filling can easily be piped.
- If after adding all the fruit puree the filling is still too stiff and needs to be slackened, add milk one teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. If filling needs to be thickened, add 1 – 2 tablespoons additional powdered sugar or almond meal.
- Mix in a few drops of optional gel food coloring.
- Transfer the filling into a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip #12. Pipe the filling onto one macaron shell and top with another to form a pair.
Keep in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.
Raspberry Banana and Blueberry Macarons