Saturday, February 4, 2012

Strawberry Sweetheart Macarons Filled with Dark Chocolate Ganache—For Valentine’s Day!

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Do you still celebrate Valentine’s Day?  I hope you do because I have a special treat for you this year.  These Strawberry Sweetheart Macarons filled with Dark Chocolate Ganache will definitely put a smile on your face, and your Valentine’s.   


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My hubby and I still celebrate Valentine’s Day.  But instead of having to fight with the crowds with restaurant reservations, troubles with the L.A.’s traffics and look for a babysitter, we both enjoy celebrating right at home (yeah, that’s a sign of getting OLD!  hahahaha….).  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy having a date night with my hubby every once in a while on special occasions, but just not on Valentine’s day when almost everyone is dining out!  Winking smile 


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The day when I made these Strawberry Macarons, my Baby Girl was so excited and kept requesting to have more of these “heart shaped cookies”, which is how she referred to them.  When my Son got home from school, he did the same.  After he had a couple, he requested that I pack some up for him so that he can enjoy them at school the next day during snack time!  He is so spoiled!  (At least, I bet that’s what the teacher would think when she sees these Macarons in a 4 year old’s lunch bag! hahaha…) I put aside a few Macarons for my hubby’s cousin, who is visiting from Hong Kong; I packed two Macarons for my boy’s lunch bag.  And don’t know how it happened, the whole batch was gone the very next day!  There were 30+ macarons in a batch!  Oh well, I guess I’ll have to make another batch to enjoy on Valentine’s Day then.  


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If you don’t feel comfortable in making your own Macarons, please refer to this post here with Tips on How to Make Perfect French Macarons.  Before I made my very first batch, I was very nervous and waited for a looong time before I got the courage to try my hands on them.  After a few trials, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks (as shared in the “How-To” post) and I’m more comfortable with them now.  I hope you’ll give them a try because they are so worth it. 


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I've tasted quite a few Macarons from different places, mostly priced from $1.75 to $2.00 each.  Some tasted great, while some were not up to par.  For example, I've tried a Lychee Macaron that tasted more like a bar of soap!  Yike!  I would bet that there wasn't any real Lychee in that thing at all!  The “issue” was the use of artificial flavoring.  If you use quality ingredients and real fruit, you can really taste the difference.  I’m okay with using artificial flavoring.  But only for minor enhancements, and not as the primary source of flavor.  Since Macarons don’t like moisture, it’s much better to use freeze dried fruits in the batter for the Macarons shells.  With the broad availability on freeze dried fruit, making fruity Macaron shells with real fruit is a breeze.  My local Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Target all carry the freeze dried fruits.  Otherwise, you can always get them online here these days.   
 

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I simply filled these Strawberry Sweetheart Macarons with some Dark Chocolate Ganache.  Simple and elegant.  The tartness from the strawberries really balanced well with the sweetness of these cookies (the tartness is something that the artificial flavoring cannot provide).  Strawberry and chocolate is such a classic combination, you can’t go wrong with that.  I used some Valrhona 70% Dark Chocolate to make the Ganache.  It’s rich, smooth and complex.  hm….each bite is heavenly!

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I want to wish you all a beautiful, romantic and sweet Valentine’s Day!  Smile So, what are your plans on Valentine’s day?  I would love to hear from you.




Strawberry Sweetheart Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache
(Printable Recipe)
Make
s: 30 to 35 filled macarons



For the macaron shells:
90 grams egg whites (about 3) preferably aged 3-5 days in the fridge
pinch of kosher salt
30 grams granulated sugar
185 grams powdered sugar
110 grams almonds
10 grams freeze dried strawberries
A pinch of powdered red food coloring (optional)

Prepare the macarons:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on high, gradually add the sugar until stiff peak forms. Place the almonds, powdered sugar, strawberries and food coloring (if using) in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue.

Fold the mixtures carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. The entire process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate; if the tops flatten on its own, the batter is ready. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple more turns.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip with the batter and pipe batter in heart shapes (1 inch to 1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, depending on their size. Rotate baking pans once half way through baking.

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache:
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
Place chocolate and instant coffee in a heat proofed bowl.  In a small sauce pan, heat the heavy cream until simmer.  Pour hot cream into the bowl of chocolate mixture and stir until smooth and shinny.  Let cool slightly before use.

To Assemble:
With a small teaspoon, fill 1 macaron shell with a teaspoon of cooled chocolate ganache and top with another shell.  Fill the rest of the macaron shells.  Place filled macarons in room temperature until chocolate ganache harden.



62 comments:

  1. Yours look perfect! Thanks for the links to the tips

    Dave

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    1. You are always welcome and thank you! Always appreciate your comment. Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, Dave.

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  2. These are delightful! It would put a smile on anyone's face.

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Belinda. :) Wish I can send you some right now! I love spreading smiles.

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  3. I can never resist macarons. But heart-shaped ones? So adorable. I'd never have any willpower with those.

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    1. Same here...that's why I've been making all different flavor of Macs! Very dangerous to have them around the house! LOL...wish you a wonderful rest of the weekend, Carolyn.

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  4. all i can say is YUM!!! happy pink saturday! xo

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Michele. Happy Pink Saturday to you too! Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!

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  5. They look so cute and amazing :))) Perfect for Valentine's day!! :)

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    1. Thank you. :) Yes, I love the shape and color for Valentine's day...but I don't mind to have these in my cookies jar on a regular basis. :P

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  6. They look great! You know I have never had a macaroon, I may have to try this recipe.
    YUM!

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    1. :) Hope you'll give these Macarons a try! I'm sure you'll love them.

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  7. BEAUTIFUL macarons, BEAUTIFUL photos! Love that strawberries look like hearts:) Have a wonderful Valentine's day, Amy!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comments, Sue. Wish you a wonderful week ahead of you and a beautiful Valentine's day too.

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  8. I'm new to the world of macarons and love them. It was love at first bite. I have to say my first time tasting them was about 2 weeks ago when I was at Angelina's in Paris...and they were simply divine. Your heart-shaped ones look adorable. I may just have to give them a try for my family...wish me luck.

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    1. These tasty little morsels of macarons are quite addictive. :) Welcome to the "club"! Hope you'll give this recipe a try because I'm sure you'll love them. Let me know how they turn out if you tried the recipe. Have a wonderful week ahead!

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  9. Amy, you come up with the most unique recipes! These are beautiful and I can only imagine how they taste. It's embarrassing to admit, but I was unaware of the freeze dried fruits. I will certainly be checking for them. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Pat

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Pat. The freeze dried fruits are pretty new to me too. :) Besides using it as an ingredient, it's great as a snack on its own. My kids are big fans!

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  10. Very beautiful heart shaped macarons and I love the classic strawberries and chocolate flavors.

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    1. Thank you, Lora. I'm glad you like the shape and flavor combination. Wish you a beautiful week ahead of you.

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  11. I love this recipe, sounds yummy! Your pictures are beautiful!!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment. Wish you a wonderful week ahead. Hope you'll be back soon for other recipes. :)

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  12. Perfect for my Valentine get together...just a few girlfriends reminiscing the old times. Thanks for sharing the recipe for these cute treats!

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    1. What a fun gathering! I always enjoy get together with my girlfriends. Hope you'll enjoy these cookies and have a wonderful party!

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  13. These look amazing!! I'm going to admit that I've never actually had a macaron before. I think that needs to change NOW!! :) Thanks for sharing these. Love the heart shape!!

    Stopping by from Melt in your Mouth Monday!
    Willa

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    1. Thank you for visiting and leaving your sweet comment, Willa. Hope you'll give this recipe a try because I know you'll love it. :) Have a wonderful day.

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  14. I'd love it if you'd come by Themed Baker's Sunday and share your treat! This week's theme is Valentines Day.
    See you there!
    Cupcake Apothecary
    http://cupcakeapothecary.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you for inviting me to your party...I'm hopping over now.

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  15. Arrhhhh these macarons are heart shape!!!! I HEART this... so lovely, I wish I can make macarons but I know I don't have much patience or experience yet. I'd totally bug you to teach me if you live around here. ;-)

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    1. Thanks for your sweet comment, Nami. Actually, the macarons are quite easy to make, just need to make sure to measure the ingredients precisely, as in all baking. :) I wish I'm living closer to you. I definitely would love to show you how to make them and you'll be amazed how easy they are. Have a wonderful day!

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  16. Gorgeous! You are so talented to make macarons- I've not been brave enough to even attempt them. And not only does the strawberry and chocolate together sound divine, they're shaped like hearts!!! :) So perfect for Valentine's Day. (or any other, for that matter!)

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. As I'm experimenting with macarons recipes, there are still a lot to learn. If you like macarons, don't be afraid to try the recipe. I waited a long time before my first attempt and so glad I didn't wait any longer! :) Go for it! You have my total supports! ;)

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  17. Wow! Your heart shape macarons look lovely! :)

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    1. Thank you, dear. :) Wish you a wonderful day.

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  18. Perfect treats for Valentine's and they look so cute too! Strawberry and chocolate are the perfect match!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment, Katerina. :) Wish you a wonderful day.

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  19. Well done Amy! Just beautiful. Maybe I would celebrate V-Day if I had some one to celebrate it with... Waaaah! ;)

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    1. Thank you, Erika. Awww....I wish you'll find that special (and lucky) someone to celebrate V-Day with soon. It's not a bad idea to have a all girls gathering though. ;)

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  20. Oh my you are killing me Amy. Macarons are my favorite pastry at the moment...to prove that I've tried most of the shops that sell macarons in NYC!! My last attempt and the only attempt didn't come out so well (the shells were too hard). Maybe I'll have a better luck this time with your recipe? Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Wow, you really love Macarons! As much as I love them, I have yet come close to trying most of them in L.A. Hope your next attempt with Macarons will be a beautiful and successful one (I'm sure they will be delicious too). Let me know how they turn out! :) Take care.

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  21. Absolutely stunning! I've never been brave enough to try baking macaroons but I wish I had a few of yours to taste right now :-)

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    1. Thank you, dear. Your should give them a try. You'll be glad you did like me. :) Wish I can send you some to try. They are really amazing.

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  22. Your pictures are just fantastic. Those macaroons just look delicious! Come visit. We have a really heart beef and barley stew today and some great news to share this week!

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    1. Thank you. I'm heading over. That sounds comforting and delicious.

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  23. Lol I should have known you would have a Valentine's day macaroon recipe, what with your well documented love affair with the tasty treat! Haha but in all seriousness, these look so delicious, as always. The dark chocolate ganache filling is an amazing touch. You have a gift with macaroons!

    ~Michelle

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    1. You bet...LOL...I couldn't help it but to create some Macarons just for Valentine's Day! But I do enjoy them any day! Thank you for your sweet comment. Wish you a wonderful V-Day!

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  24. I love this! We just posted our very first Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday Link Party and we would LOVE for you to stop by and link this up! http://kitchenfunwithmy3sons.blogspot.com/2012/02/kitchen-fun-and-crafty-friday-link.html

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    1. Thank you for inviting me to your linky party, Jill. I just linked up. Thank you for hosting. Have a good weekend.

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  25. those look delicious - but perhaps beyond my mediocre baking skills!

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    1. Thank you, Anna. Macarons are not hard to make at all. Plus, I've the post with the tips and tricks to set you up for success. Hope you'll give them a try some day. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  26. Wow!! These macs look gorgeous!!! I've just got started, hope to make many more macarons soon! And yes, the flavor combinations are endless. My next one will be a flavored shell!!

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    1. Thank you, Ambika. Yes, they are so much fun to make too. What flavor are you going to try next? I look forward to finding out from your blog. ;)

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  27. Macarons are on my list to make some day! These are so pretty!

    Thanks for linking up! I featured your post in my wrap up http://tidymom.net/2012/valentine-treats-and-boxes/
    Have a great rest of the weekend

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    1. Thank you so much for featuring my Macarons! I really appreciate your shout out. Wish you and your family a wonderful long weekend.

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  28. Oh these are so cute and look so delicious!! WOW!!

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    1. Thank you, Tiffanee. :) Wish I can send you some to try.

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  29. I so LOVE macarons! Is there anything better?
    Thanks for your comment on my 4 year blog post!

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    1. You're very welcome, as always. :) Yes, I'm crazy about macarons....well, I guess you can tell from all my previous Mac posts. Hahaha...take care and have a wonderful weekend.

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  30. Beautiful! If you don't mind me asking, how long do you whip your egg whites for them to be stiff? I have a recipe that whips the whites for about 10 minutes so that the whites are really dry. Does your recipe require that much whipping? Just making sure that my first try at your recipe is successful. :) Thanks!

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    1. Hi Aimee, thank you for stopping by and asking your questions. The number of minutes for the egg whites to reach stiff peaks depends on quite a few factors. That's the reason why I didn't state it on my recipe. For instant, it takes much longer for the egg whites to get stiff peaks if you use a hand held mixer vs. a stand mixer. Pasteurized eggs also need 2 to 3 minutes longer than regular egg whites; the speed of your mixer and the type of whisk used also matter. So, it's best to look at the egg white to determine if it's ready rather than just counting minutes. I don't recommend whipping the egg whites too long as you said the whites might be too dry. I do plan to make a video for my macaron making process in the future so you can get a better idea. Hope the information helps. If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know. I'm more than happy to help. Wish you beautiful and delicious macarons on your first try. :)

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