Amarena Cherry Macarons

The other week at lunch a colleague mentioned cherry macarons, which triggered my memory – I’ve had a jar of amarena cherries sitting on my kitchen counter for a while. I had a great idea, which in the meantime I’d forgotten… so cherry amarena macarons it was.

My first attempt failed terribly. I overmixed the batter, which resulted in totally flat shells that couldn’t even be scraped from the baking paper. I believe there’s a rule about not turning your spoon/spatula more than 50 times or something, or else the batter is overmixed. However, if like my macarons you still get that tiny tip on your shells after baking, it is apparently undermixed. Oh well. Maybe next time…

Also, although I ran both the icing sugar and the almond flour through a blender, it seems that wasn’t enough because you can still see structure in my shells. Probably should have sifted both as well. Having said that – there is such a thing as overdoing things, I think. Even with the tips and the structure, the macarons I’ve made before as well as these ones always tasted perfect.

My baking endeavours seem to have been a bit jinxed this past weekend, though, because while I’ve worked according to this specific recipe before and always managed to get 26 shell halves out of the batter, this second batch weirdly only produced 12, so I only had 6 macarons.

One thing I really wasn’t content with was the colour of the shells. I tried to use some of the cherry liquid to colour the batter, but that didn’t work, it was way too weak. Next I tried red food colouring gel, which as you can see turned out quite garish. But again – it was the taste that mattered, and the buttercream turned out exactly as expected. Perfect.

I really love macarons, and my intention is to make a new batch the next few weeks just to get a feel for how much I really need to work the batter so I get evenly flat shells.

While I was so enthusiastic about getting this right, I decided to try some powder food colours and ordered some online. I typed “powder food colour for macarons” into the search field, and what came up was the Rainbow Dust brand. I couldn’t get all the colours I wanted in Germany, so I ordered some from the UK. Only to be really ticked off when they arrived to see the label said “for decorating only – non-edible”. WTF!? So that means you can make cake decorations with them that you then cannot eat? And you can definitely not add them to macarons batter. I would have had to pay postage & packaging again to return the UK orders, so that ticked me off even more. 😡

Does anyone have any tips on what kinds of powder food colours to use for macarons? I’ve only used the gel variety so far.

Amarena Cherry Macarons

Macaron Shells
50 g finely ground skinned almonds (or almond flour)
75 g finely ground icing sugar
pinch baking powder
1 egg white (large)
20 g sugar

100 g soft butter, at room temperature
approx. 10 amarena cherries
50 ml liquid from amarena cherry jar

For the macarons, whip the egg white until very stiff. Keep on whipping while pouring in the sugar.

Mix almond flour, icing sugar and baking powder, then add to the egg white. Incorporate the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon or spatula until well mixed and smooth but don’t overmix.

Place a non-stick baking mat on a baking tray. Using a piping bag with a large round nozzle, pipe the macarons mixture onto the baking mat making 26 circles.

Let sit for 20 minutes, then preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F (130°C / 275°F in fan oven). After a further 10 minutes, bake on middle shelf for 12 – 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking tray.

For the buttercream, halve or quarter the amarena cherries, then purée with an immersion blender.

With a handheld blender, start mixing the butter and bit by bit [do not add all at once!] add the cherries & liquid. Once it has come together, use a spatula to make sure it’s evenly mixed.

Using a piping bag with a star or round nozzle, pipe the buttercream onto half of the macarons shells and top with the other halves. Refrigerate until buttercream is firm.