I may not be very traditional when it comes to Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like strawberries and champagne every once in a while. And strawberries and champagne in cookie form? Even better.
I’ve actually made these a couple times, trying to get the recipe and method down… and I’ve discovered that underbaking or leaving the cookies on the cookie sheet too long after they come out of the oven is bad. They get super soggy and stick. So please don’t do that, unless you want to be prying pieces of cookie off the cookie sheet and sticking them directly in your mouth, with no frosting involved.
Also, you’ll see below that my macarons are bumpy. It’s because I didn’t sift everything. Macarons like sifting. They are very, very fussy. But they’re also very, very good. Of course, other things are good and much easier to make. Like cupcakes. Or chocolate-chip cookies (make them in the shape of hearts, serve them with strawberry milk and no one will be the least bit upset).
If you are up for it, though, these are pretty fancy. And a little bit romantic. In a good way.
So, yesterday I got my hair done, and a different person dried and styled it. She is single, and she was telling me she and her friends are going to go shopping, go out to dinner and see “The Vow” in honor of Valentine’s Day. And that sounds like a perfectly nice thing to do, even though “The Vow” looks like it is definitely not my kind of movie.
Then we started talking about Rachel MacAdams — how she is totally adorable, and seems to be in everything right now. So this girl brought up “The Notebook” (her favorite movie), and I said I hadn’t seen it. She couldn’t believe it.
That is probably part of the reason I have not hopped on the Ryan-Gosling-is-the-perfect-man bandwagon either. I don’t have any ill will toward him, it’s just that I’m pretty sure that the only movie I’ve ever seen him in is “Remember the Titans”… and I don’t actually remember him being in that.
I guess I should probably see at least one of his movies… but which one would y’all recommend? I’ve heard “Drive” is good. And apparently “Crazy, Stupid Love” isn’t too bad either. But maybe I should just suck it up and see “The Notebook.” What do you think?
And yes, I used prosecco instead of champagne. It’s cheaper and comes in small bottles. You can use any kind of sparkling white (or pink!) wine you like. And since this doesn’t use a ton of it, you can use the real stuff if you’re popping a bottle anyway (or have some leftover). It’s also OK if it has flattened a bit.
Strawberry macarons with champagne buttercream (Adapted from Tartelette, makes 30-35 macarons)
Freeze-dried strawberries (you need 10 grams pulverized and strained)
90 grams egg whites (age them for 3 to 5 days in the fridge)
25 grams granulated sugar
Gel or powder food coloring (red or pink)
190 grams powdered sugar
110 grams almonds (I used slivered, but you can use whatever kind you want)
Grind/pulverize the freeze-dried strawberries in a small food processor or spice grinder. Strain to remove seeds and large chunks. Measure out 10 grams of the strained strawberry powder and set aside.
Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer (you’ll note that I used the paddle. Oops), whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the granulated (not powdered) sugar and continue to beat. Continue beating until meringue is glossy and looks like shaving cream. Add food coloring (if using gel) and beat just to combine. (You don’t want to overbeat the egg whites).
In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground. Sift this mixture, then pulse the remaining chunks again. Pulse the finely ground almonds with the 10 grams of strawberry powder and the powdered sugar until everything is well combined (you can whisk these dry ingredients together instead of food-processing them, but make sure the nuts are finely ground first).
Add the nut mixture to the meringue and fold the mixture together until everything is combined and the disturbed batter goes back to its original position in about 10 seconds. Don’t over-mix it. Test a little on a plate – the top should flatten out after a few seconds. If it leaves a little point, fold the batter a little more.
Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Put the batter in a pastry bag with a plain (large) tip or a large Ziploc bag with a hole cut in one of the bottom corners, and pipe little circles (1- to 1.5-inches across) onto the lined baking sheets. Rap the baking sheets against the counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles, then let the macarons sit for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the shells to harden.
Heat the oven to 280 degrees and bake the shells for 15 to 20 minutes (they need to be baked long enough that they aren’t too soft in the middle but not so long that they start turning brown. I know that’s kind of impossible to judge, so look at 15 and if you don’t think they’re ready, keep watching them carefully and take them out if any start browning). Let cool for a few minutes, but remove them (carefully) before they are completely cool. I usually pick the Silpat up, bend it slightly and sort of tap the bottom of the cookie with my fingers if it doesn’t pop right off.
Pair like-sized cookies together so you can fill them with champagne buttercream and press together (very gently) like sandwiches.
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 pound to 1 pound powdered sugar
1/4 cup champagne (or prosecco, or other sparkling white wine)
Cream the butter in a medium mixing bowl until smooth, then add 2 cups powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add champagne and beat to combine. Continue adding powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time until the buttercream is a good consistency for spreading.
If the mixture tastes too much like butter and not enough like champagne, add more champagne and then more powdered sugar if needed for consistency. Allowing the mixture to sit for a few minutes should also let it set a bit (if it’s runny).