- Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- makes 12 sandwich cookies
Once you’ve mastered macarons, you can try your hand at the next level challenge of shaped macarons. Not all shapes will work well and create the signature foot, but hearts (or in this case, peaches) are fairly foolproof. To pipe the shape, treat it almost as if you’re piping two macaron shells next to one another rather than trying to pipe a physical heart (this will produce a better foot). For added dimension, you can brush a portion of the cooled baked macaron shell with tinted luster dust, which will help make it look like the naturally varied exterior of a peach. Tiny herb leaves are the perfect way to finish the illusion, if you like, but the real peachiness of these macarons lies in the filling: a ring of rich and tangy cream cheese frosting on the outside, with a “core” of peach jam hidden inside. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
- Peach Macaron Shells
1 1/2 cups
(150g) finely ground almond flour
(226g) powdered sugar
(2g) fine sea salt
large (140g) egg whites
(99g) granulated sugar
(2g) vanilla extract
peach gel food coloring
red or copper luster dust, for finishing (optional)
(226g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
(113g) cream cheese, at room temperature
(454g) powdered sugar
(15g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
(5g) vanilla extract
fine sea salt
(255g) peach jelly or jam [1 heaping tablespoon per cookie]
Small mint or basil leaves, as needed (optional)
- Line three baking sheets with parchment paper (use your flattest ones). Use a 2 ½ to 3-inch heart cookie cutter to trace hearts onto the parchment paper. Trace in rows, spacing each about 3/4 inch apart from one another, staggering the rows to fit as many macarons onto the sheet as will comfortably fit (6 to 8 per sheet). Turn the parchment paper over so the ink won’t touch the batter when you pipe onto the paper. Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip (such as 803/804/805).
- Make the macaron shells: sift the almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt together into a medium bowl. Repeat 1 to 2 more times—you’re trying to eliminate clumps, combine the dry ingredients, and also aerate this mixture. (If any rogue clumps of almond flour remain that won’t fit through the strainer even when coerced, discard them.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), whip the egg whites on medium speed until slightly foamy, about 30 to 45 seconds. Raise the mixer speed to high and gradually add the granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue whipping until the meringue holds stiff peaks, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the peach coloring to the meringue during this time. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Remove the meringue from the mixer. Add about half of the almond flour mixture to the bowl and start to mix with a silicone spatula to combine. It’s ok to mix the batter a bit more vigorously at this stage—you’re sort of “tempering” the batter with the dry ingredients, which will make it easier to incorporate the remainder. You’re also intentionally starting to deflate the batter to get it close to the ideal texture.
- Add the remaining almond flour mixture to the batter, and fold gently to incorporate with a silicone spatula. Move the spatula around the outside of the bowl in a circular motion, then cut through the center and repeat. Rotate the bowl as you fold to keep working with all the batter evenly. The goal is to end up with a batter the consistency of “lava”—it should hold its shape when dropped from the spatula but slowly spread and lose definition (in other words: thick, but not so thick it holds any peaks).
- Gently transfer the batter to the prepared piping bag, filling it just over halfway full. Pipe the batter onto the prepared baking sheets using the guides to keep them evenly sized. Hold the pastry bag parallel to the baking sheet and begin to apply pressure, allowing the batter to flow out of the tip into a fluid round. Stop applying pressure just before you reach the end of your guide. Repeat until the baking sheets are filled up, refilling the pastry bag as needed.
- Gently tap the baking sheets on the countertop—this should smooth out the surface of the macaron and spread it slightly. If desired, use a needle or skewer to pop any visible bubbles on the surface of the macarons. (Optional: brush edible red/pink food color on one side of the hearts to help resemble the multicolored outside of a peach).
- Let the macarons rest at room temperature until they form a skin on the surface, about 1 to 2 hours (it can take less time in a dry environment, longer in a more humid one). Towards the end of rest time, preheat the oven to 300°F with your oven rack in the center portion of the oven. (I bake one tray at a time because they are so finicky, but if your oven can handle it, you can bake both trays at once.)
- Bake the macarons until they have risen, forming a foot on the bottom, and the surface of the cookies is shiny, dry, and set, 22 to 25 minutes. Once baked, cool the macarons completely on the baking sheet. If using, brush half of the peach with luster dust to emulate the natural multi-toned look of peach skin.
- Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl, if using a hand mixer), cream the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt.
- Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a medium round or star tip. Transfer the peach jelly or jam to a pastry bag (no tip required).
- When the macarons are cool, gently peel them off of the parchment paper. As you work, you can pair up the macarons with their closest match, flipping over half of the cookies.
- Pipe a ring of cream cheese filling around the outside of each of the flipped over cookies, stopping just shy of the outside edge. Repeat on all the cookies, then cut a ½-inch opening from the tip of the pastry bag holding the jelly/jam, and pipe it into the center to fill it in. Place its cookie pair on top and press down gently.
- The cookies can be eaten immediately, but they are typically left to rest overnight, which softens the cookie as it absorbs moisture from the filling. To do this, transfer the cookies to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. (The cookies can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.)
- Just before serving, if using, press 1 to 2 small leaves into the center of each cookie to emulate the stem of a peach.