Ever since I saw those luscious Laduree macaroons in Sophia Copolla's Marie Antoinette, I have been tempted to order a box from France. My only hesitatation has been that they would arrive stale and I would not have the opportunity for the full Laduree experience. Milena Canonero, whose costumed confections earned her an Oscar for Marie Antoinette, was said to have been inspired by Laduree macaroons. Of course Marie Antoinette herself may have also been inspired by the colors. Those of you reading Queen of Fashion along with me know that she was fond of pale colors and tiny prints.
Yesterday, the March / April issue of Tea Time magazine arrived and in it is a recipe for "french macaroons." French macaroons are delicate, meringue-like and almond flavoured (unlike the dense, chewy American coconuty version -- which is also pretty good). According to the article in Tea Time, this sweet treat became popular in France in the mid-17th century and didn't evolve much for nearly 300 years. In the 1930s, bakers at the famed Laduree tearoom and pastry shop in Paris started sandwiching frosting between two traditional macaroons. They have been described as "at once fluffy, a little chewy, and lightly crisp." I may still splurge on the Parisian variety, but until then I think I will try this recipe from Tea Time.
Strawberry Macaroons (makes 40 - 54 cookies, 20 - 27 sandwiches) 1 1/4 C confectioners' sugar, 1 1/4 cups almond flour (available on Amazon.com), 3 large egg whites, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 C granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2-4 drops red food coloring, and Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling (see second recipe).
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sift confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl. Blend in almond flour. In a large bowl, mix egg whites at high speed until foamy, add salt. Slowly add sugar, blend until soft peaks form. Add vanilla extract and food coloring, take care not to overmix. Gently fold the almond flour mixture into egg whites to incorporate, take care not to overmix. Gently fill a pastry bag (no tip required) with mixture and pipe into 1 - 1 1/2 inch rounds onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until bottoms of cookies are just set and tops are firm, approx. 20 mins. Take care not to overbake. Remove from oven and allow to cool on parchment sheets. When completely cool, spread a thick layer of Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling on the flat bottom of a cookie. Sandwich with a second cookie, repeat with remaining cookies.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling (makes 1 1/2 cups) 4 ounces softened cream cheese, 3 Tablespoons softened butter, 1 1/2 C confectioners' sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup strained strawberry preserves.
Mix butter and cream cheese at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, sift in confectioners' sugar, add vanilla extract and preserves, and blend until smooth.