These obviously aren’t “real” red velvet, given that there’s none of the buttermilk, vinegar or baking soda that give red velvet cake its distinctive texture… they’re just mildly chocolate macs tinted with red food colouring… but I was desperate to create a vehicle for ermine frosting 🙂 I first read about this frosting on some foodie site or other a while back, then recently did a little googling and found this LOL-worthy introduction and easy to follow recipe (I only adjusted the quantities). I’d describe it as a cousin to buttercream frosting, but it’s based on a cooked milk and flour mixture, which is smooth and creamy and has a firmness to it that complements the shell nicely.
Some thoughts on food colouring… Whether you use it or not is entirely up to you (these obviously won’t be red if you don’t, but that’s fine!), but if you do use it, what you use will determine how much you use and your own preference will determine when you add it. Most people add gel or powder colouring to the meringue during the beating-to-cool stage, but, while I add gel to the meringue, I prefer to add powder to the initial almond mixture because it’s easier to see if the bright, white meringue has been fully incorporated into the almond mixture during the macaronage stage, since they are two distinct colours. Do what you feel most comfortable with. For these macs, I used 1/2 tsp red powder colouring, but brands vary quite a bit and this was a new one to me so they are a bit more dusky pink than red. You should avoid liquid food colouring, though, as it can add too much moisture to the mix.
Makes 30 filled macarons
140g ground almonds
133g powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
7g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp powdered red food colouring (or gel, if you prefer)
100g egg white (from approx. 3 eggs), room temperature, divided 50/50
100g granulated (white) sugar
120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
1 1/2 tbsp (4 1/2 tsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
small pinch salt
115g (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) granulated (white) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Prepare 2 parchment lined baking sheets.
Mix the ground almonds and powdered sugar together then grind in a food processor until you have an extra fine texture.
Sift into a large bowl, re-grinding any bigger pieces of almond.
Whisk in the cocoa and powdered food colouring, if using.
Add 50g egg whites and mix thoroughly into the almond mixture. Set aside.
In another bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the other 50g egg whites to stiff peaks.
Meanwhile, put the granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat on medium-low to 118°C.
While whisking constantly on low speed (to avoid splashing hot syrup), slowly add the cooked sugar mixture to the beaten egg whites, pouring it down the inside edge of the bowl. Whisk at high speed until the mixture is cool, about 3 minutes (add gel food colouring, if using). The mixture should increase in volume and become firm (you should get a beak when you lift the whisk) and shiny.
Scrape the meringue onto the almond mixture and incorporate with a rubber or silicone spatula until you have a homogenous batter that runs from the spatula in a thick ribbon and a trail in the batter melts back into itself within 20 seconds.
Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 7 – 9mm plain tip (this is best done in two batches, so you don’t overfill the bag). Pipe 60 equally sized rounds, about 3cm, in staggered rows onto the prepared sheets. Hold the piping bag upright with the tip just above the sheet and pipe without pulling upwards or swirling in circles, so the batter comes out in a round blob around the tip, and give a little sideways flick at the end to break the stream.
Tap the baking sheet firmly on the bench several times to release air bubbles and obtain a smooth surface. Leave the tray to rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes until a slight skin forms.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150°C.
Bake the macarons for 20 minutes, one sheet at a time, turning the tray half-way.
Remove from oven and remove the parchment from the tray with the shells still on it and place on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, until completely cool, then remove macaron shells carefully from the parchment. If they stick, you can spray the underside of the parchment with water, let sit for a minute then remove the shells to a rack to dry completely.
Whisk flour into milk and place over medium heat in a small saucepan. Heat until thickened, whisking constantly. It should have the consistency of béchamel. Whisk in salt and pour mixture into a small bowl, then cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface to avoid a skin forming. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix in well.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the cooled milk mixture one tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated and you have a light and fluffy frosting.
Pipe or spoon a generous blob of filling onto the flat side of half the shells, top with the remaining shells and press gently until the filling reaches the edges.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge to mature for at least 24 hours before eating.