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while you were gone

Recipe: strawberry macarons

I know you weren’t gone. I was, but it’s like you were gone. Now that I’m back, my regular brand of crazy can resume. I haven’t had a moment to really wade through my photos properly, but I have a few preliminaries to share of Yosemite and some of our visits in the bay area. You might even see some folks you will recognize.

we caught the tail end of the dogwood bloom in the valley

and some spectacular wildflower displays outside of the valley

and witnessed impressive volume in the falls around the park

We rolled into town in time to spend a weekend with my grandma and my aunt (also visiting grandma from out of town). However, we did manage to squeeze a morning in to meet up with some of my favorite bay area food bloggers. First we did a short hike with Chuck and Hungry Bear of Sunday Nite Dinner near Palo Alto. And for those who (still) don’t know, Chuck is the creator and overseer of foodgawker. I quite love the way he runs that gig because he’s a real programmer who understands web interface (nothing makes me want to run screaming in the other direction more than a site that does not work). I always knew Chuck and HB were nice people and our meeting confirmed it ten times over. They’re smart, genuine, kind, fun, and funny. Our time together was so short, but really great.

your secret is safe with me, hb!

It was getting quite hot by 8:30 as Jeremy drove to Lisa and Mike’s house. I changed in the car and we arrived just past fashionably late (had to stop and pick up flowers). Lisa was so gracious as to invite Anita, myself, and Jeremy to her place for “coffee” when we were trying to plan a morning meetup from Yosemite. Now as you and I know, “coffee” isn’t just coffee when a food blogger says “Come over for some coffee.”

lovely coffee cake

bonus: black sesame and pistachio macarons (these were going to a shower)

She also served some grapes and (according to Jeremy b/c I don’t drink coffee) good coffee and fresh squozen orange juice. We had a lot of fun talking up the food blog gossip and latest news in our lives. I truly appreciate the unassuming attitudes of both Anita and Lisa. They are so genuinely sincere. But wait, I am forgetting the star of the show:

beautiful lucca

I’ll be honest. I found Lisa through the Daring Bakers (before it exploded into the throngs of thousands), but the real reason I added Lisa’s blog to my RSS feed at first was because she posted photos of Lucca when she was a PUPPY – an adorable, furry, chunky, yellow lab puppy! Jeremy could hear me squeal every time a new post came up. Lucca is just over a year now. She is such a sweet and good girl (as opposed to Kaweah who is a sweet girl… but not necessarily a good girl).

lisa and anita

anita always has the cutest shoes

I’ve said it before and I continue to say it now. When I meet these food bloggers for the first time, it’s as if we’ve met before – because we are already friends. People who don’t believe that you can make true friendships online probably have shit for communication skills (or can’t type). Again, the time was way too short, but I’m glad to have connected with these friends in person. Good people.

Maybe I’ll talk about my visit with Grandma later. Maybe not. She’s very special to me and well, sometimes words can’t do her justice. She seriously kicks ass – my little 88-year old Chinese grandmother. Love her.

There *is* a recipe, although this one is short because you’ve seen its cousins before and I need to skidaddle. I had a lot of leftover strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream frosting from that cake and there was no way I would throw it out (that is good stuff). I tend to prefer ganache in my macarons, but I was willing to mess with some buttercream – especially when it tastes this good.

adding red-dyed sugar to the whites

I’ve been cautious of adding liquid to my egg whites when making macarons, so I usually whisk some coloring into the sugar and let it dry before adding. This time, I added more red coloring (because last time it was too weak) and the sugar was damp… nay, wet. It seemed to hold up just fine, but I would still hesitate to push that limit.

mixing in the almond flour

Helen had emailed me about her strawberry macaron experiment using ground dried strawberries, which is brilliant (of course, it’s HELEN!), but I was too lazy to even *think* about making the macarons anything but almond-flavored.

sorting the cookies by size

I hoped that the buttercream would be enough to carry the strawberry flavor through. I love that strawberry buttercream recipe. I swear by it. I had faith in it. Unlike the last batch of pistachio macarons that I tanked (the oven and I – we fought), these came out well. My OCD side actually loves the part where I sort the macs by size. I imagine Good Bakers don’t have to sort by size because they have an even piping hand.

just a squirt of buttercream

I was satisfied with the end result. It was sufficiently strawberry tasting without overpowering the almond. Nice and light… all of that butter. Perhaps in the future I’ll play around more with buttercreams since those are easier to flavor than the macarons. I’ll have to consult with Helen when she arrives in Colorado!

my judge’s entry for CLICK may 2009: cookies

Strawberry Buttercream Macarons
[print recipe]
basic macaron recipe from Tartelette

225g powdered sugar
125g almonds, blanched
25g sugar
red food coloring (about 7 drops)
100g egg whites (about 3)

Grind the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add a drop of food coloring at a time to the granulated sugar and whisk together until evenly colored (your sugar will be darker than the final macaron). Set aside and let dry (a few minutes). In this case, it was a little wet, but it was okay. Whip egg whites until foamy, slowly add the granulated sugar and continue to whip until they are glossy. Don’t overbeat the whites. Fold the almond and powdered sugar mixture into the whites with a wide spatula. The mixture should remain shiny and flow easily (hold a ribbon for ten seconds, I would say). Fill a pastry bag with the batter and pipe small rounds onto parchment lined baking sheets. Let the macarons rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 315°F (325°F at 8500 feet) and when they are ready, bake them for 12-15 minutes (12 minutes). Let cool, remove from the paper and fill with the buttercream (use about 1-2 cups). Makes 35. If making small macarons (1-inch), bake for about 10 minutes.

strawberry swiss meringue buttercream
8 oz. egg whites
16 oz. sugar
1 lb. butter, room temperature
4 oz. strawberry purée

Combine egg whites and sugar in a Kitchenaid mixing bowl. Whisk constantly over a gently simmering hot water bath until 140°F is reached. Remove from heat. Place on mixer with whisk and whip until stiff. Turn down whip speed to 3rd and whip until cool to the touch (this takes a while – should be cooler than your hand). Change to a paddle and gradually add soft butter by tablespoon pieces. Mix to emulsify. Once desired consistency has been reached, add purée and mix well. Makes about 6 cups.

51 nibbles at “while you were gone”

  1. cindy says:

    awesome photos! and the macs look dreamy…

    what fun you’ve been having with the bloggers, and more to come! how sweet!

  2. Eesh says:

    Welcome back! Oh and what perfect timing– its *finally* strawberry season here and I’m picking up a couple quarts from a farmer tomorrow. Getting ready to break out the brand-new pastry bag! Thank you for another lovely recipe :).

  3. Krista Arndt says:

    What about using gel color instead of liquid color? You could use way less and not have to worry about adding extra liquid to your batter…

  4. Lisa is Bossy says:

    Jen, I love how you CONVENIENTLY left out the picture of the 3 of us and just put in that one of Anita and me! BLOGGERS FEEL FREE TO COME SEE JEN’S HAPPY SMILING FACE ON MY POST ABOUT US! Hahahha… Silly Jen…

    It’s so funny reading the same thing from different perspectives. Glad to know we all felt the same way about feeling like friends before we’d even met. The time was FAR too short. Your next visit to the Bay… I think you know which B&B at which to stay. There’s a sweet little yellow lab doggie who lives there. We’ll just call it Lucca’s Inn. I’m not joking around either.


  5. Peter says:

    What a breathtaking pic of the gorge! The treats aren’t too shabby and I wanna make deal….I make dinner, you bring one of your girlfriends over and you bring dessert? ;)

  6. Erin says:

    These look amazing! I have recently discovered how much I love macaroons, so I’ll have to try these!

  7. Tartelette says:

    Gorgeous gorgeous photographs! What a wonderful trip and get together!
    The macarons are just dreamy Jen, bravo!

  8. peabody says:

    Lovely photos.
    Oh swoon on the strawberry buttercream. I need. I want. I must have.

  9. Rosa says:

    It looks like you had a wonderful time together! Thanks for the gorgeous pictures! These macarons are very pretty!



  10. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    Loved all the pics (the ones of you too Jen, lol). I hope someday I’ll get to meet some food bloggers in my little corner of the world. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Caitlin says:

    How absolutely stunning – I can’t wait to make it out that direction in a couple months so I can see some of that spectacular scenery. My friends always look at me funny when I talk about my “blog friends” though – evidently it’s weird to meet people over the internets? Oops, my bad! :)

  12. Mrs Ergül says:

    What lovely meetups with lovely people again! I want to go to Colorado to meet you too!

    That is a gorgeous photo of your strawberry macarons! Who are the luckly recipients this time?!

  13. Tessa says:

    Awh, what precious macarons! I hope you had fun meeting up with fellow bloggers!

  14. Margie says:

    The dog had me. I confess. I skipped forward looking for more, Lucca. Then I finally read the recipe. Reluctantly. I admit. I wanted more Lucca, Miss K., heck, any dog would have done the trick. I relented. I swallowed my shallow self and went back to read the recipe and look at THOSE shoes. Yes. Them is danged pretty. So are your friends.

    I so agree, Chuck works magic. It must be that bear. There’s something to these animals, ya know, they have powers we can only dream of capturing.


  15. hungry bear says:

    Ha ha ha!!!! Love my bear silhouette!
    It was great meeting you and Jeremy. Next time you have to come to a sunday nite dinner.

  16. charlane says:

    gorgeous….and I totally understand about meeting bloggers that we ahve friended over a while, they do become so close that when you meet them, it’s like “oh yeah” and you never miss a beat in the conversation.

  17. Manggy says:

    BWAHAHAHA! I love that the silhouette of hungry bear appears to be a bear. Is she really a bear? How did you feed her? Other scenarios: she constantly walks around with a bear-hat. That’s her thing. Or a bear costume. Okay, I’ve gone completely loopy. It’s just so darn funny! Well played, Yu :)
    I do wanna hear about your visit to Grandma now!
    The cookies/little bites of heaven look so cuuute! (Wow, there’s no reclaiming my Y chromosome NOW!)

  18. jo says:

    I simply look forward to your photos and viewing your blog every time I click onto the link. Also who can say no to such strawberry beauties. I’m still trying to perfect my macarons … the day will surely come – well one day, yes!

  19. Eat. Travel. Eat! says:

    Beautiful macaroons! I like how all the colors look pastel like as some macaroons are ultra colorful which scare me a bit due to the high amount of food coloring. I personally think these look way better than the ones with lots of color added.

  20. Ria says:

    Lovely post! Beautiful clicks! Happy to hear that you all had a great time.. when I’m reading this I feel as if I was there amongst you all!! :D Great going!!


  21. Debbie says:

    What beautiful pictures. It sounds like so much fun to meet fellow bloggers. I can definitely relate to feeling that you are already friends and know each other simply from communicating through blogging. It takes all the awkwardness out of meeting for the first time away, because you really do know each other already!!!

  22. Courtney says:

    Wow! Your site is beautiful. I am so happy to have found it, not just for the recipes, but also the pictures are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your talents with us:)

  23. Karen B says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! It’s fun to hear more about the people behind the blogs. I would love to hear about your Grandma too!

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a macaroon before, which is terrible for someone like me – I have a great sweet tooth, and my grandfather is a (retired) baker. This is a situation that must be remedied- as soon as the outside thermometer stays below 95! I just can’t turn the oven on when it’s this hot.

  24. Patricia Scarpin says:

    I’ve had macarons on my mind for ages, but haven’t got the time to make them. Too bad, got work that out, because these are truly inspirational, Jen! Love the pale, delicate color. And strawberries are always a plus in my book. :)

    What gorgeous photos you have there, Jen! That flower is mesmerizing. As for Internet friends, I have made a few and our friendship is really strong.

  25. Hillary says:

    I recently had a raspberry rose macaron that was to die for. They put a little raspberry in the middle, it was an unexpected surprise. Nice job on your macarons!

  26. amy says:

    wow! looks very pretty:)i have yet to try macarons myself!:P

  27. Faith says:

    There is no way I cannot follow a blog that proclaims, USE REAL BUTTER! Yes!!!

    Yummy treats!


  28. Abby says:

    I’ve never made macarons and don’t have the cajones to start now. You guys rock to make them so perfectly – I’ve read horror stories!

    Also ran across the Click! event tonight. You’d win for sure if you could enter as a participant!

  29. Pinky says:

    Good bakers don’t neccessarily have a perfectly steady hand, they may just possibly cheat by using a template. Just maybe….

  30. Asianmommy says:

    Beautiful photos! Your macarons look perfect.

  31. Sylvia says:

    You have a nice time with your bloogers friends.Interesting filling i?ll never try to combine meringue with butter before I’ll must try this , in fact I ‘m tired to fill macaroons with the old same filling

  32. Maya says:

    Looks like you had a good time. Nice macaroons!

  33. Fiona says:

    Yum! And the macarons, too! What? I could snorgle that pup all day.

    Sounds like a great trip, and I’m looking forward to hearing about your grandmother. I think by 88 many interesting people have become really, truly outstanding by virtue of so much experience. I mean – she was born in 1921, right? Or maybe 1920? I’m listing all the history she’s lived through in my head, and…wow.

  34. Mollie says:

    Love the pictures, and of course love grandma!! Glad the trip went well. Love the falls picture, and of course, Lucca!! Sweet girl…

    Glad you’re home :)

  35. Nate says:

    Thanks for sharing about your adventures here in the Bay Area. Too bad you were only here for the weekend. We would have liked to meet you.

  36. Candice says:

    black sesame macarons?! black sesame anything reminds me of my parents. *sigh* ten times over.

  37. Melissa says:

    Glad you had a great time with Anita and Lisa. I know what you mean about meeting and already being friends. It’s funny that used to seem (or still does seem) strange to a lot of people, but you’re right in that it’s all about how you communicate. My blog bestie and I can talk on the phone for hoooours, as I know you can with some of your closer ones because, hello, we’ve talked all this time already.

    Lucca is beautiful. I’m not surprised the pup is what drew you in.

  38. Susan says:

    So pretty! Maybe one day I’ll have the energy to make macarons but cookies in general rarely cooperate for me and I’m still slightly traumatized by making samoas on Easter (way more effort than they were worth).

  39. Anita says:

    Those are such cute macarons!!! very pretty.

  40. Anita says:

    So of course I couldn’t wait to see your blog post about California, and then I lamely forgot to post a comment (I got mixed up with our e-mail string instead!) It was SUCH fun to meet you, and I’m so glad blogging has brought us together! Also love that we both posted about strawberries, hee!! P.S. your photos make me totally nostalgic for my family trips there -we’re way overdue for a return visit! XOXO to you and Jeremy!!

  41. Y says:

    Those macarons are so pretty! And have I already mentioned how much I love your photos? There’s always such warmth to them.

  42. bee says:

    gorgeous pics and cookies! thanks for your entry.

  43. Ashley says:

    Lovely shots! =)
    Those blue wild flowers are Bluebonnets, they are Texas state flower! =)

  44. Christy says:

    Hey Jen,
    I am trying my hand at these macarons. My first attempt was a failure. I don’t think I beat the egg whites long enough. They spread some when pipped and then didn’t get dry enough, they wouldn’t come off the parchment. But I am not detered. At least not yet.

    I am going to re-read your instructions as well as visiting Tartlette’s website and see if I can do a better job next time.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  45. Crystal says:

    Sorry, Ashley. I believe those blue wild flowers are California Alpine Lupine. Bet the Bluebonnets look just like ’em.
    And Jen, your site is always inspiring. Beautiful photos!

  46. UjjU says:

    WoW! great pictures. Macarons look so yummy. I’m craving for them now :(

  47. Kaye Harris says:

    really am enjoying your site. found it tonight as it was posted on someone’s tumblr.

    So happy and now hungry (for more).
    Great job!

  48. jenyu says:

    Cindy – thank you!

    Eesh – mmm, strawberry season :) I can’t get enough of them. Have fun with that pastry bag.

    Krista – I suppose, but if I’m going to get coloring, then I may as well spring for some powdered coloring.

    Lisa – ;) people don’t come to urb to see pictures of ME, hon! Well, as long as I am visiting with Grandma, it’s hard to make time to see others… this was a rare opportunity. But I’ll be at Blogher Food 09 so if you can hoof it up to SF??

    Peter – ha ha! You are SO funny. These lovely ladies are taken, hon. But I don’t know how many women could resist your amazing cooking :)

    Erin – macarons, my love, my bane…

    Tartelette – all of my macarons owe their existence (and the devouring) to you.

    Peabody – I’m with ya on that, love the buttercream :)

    Rosa – thank you!

    Lisa – aww, thanks :)

    Caitlin – not weird at all, your friends are just lame ;) bwa ha ha ha! ;)

    Mrs. Ergul – oh, I gave them out to guests, mailed some for mother’s day, and jeremy got to eat the rest!

    Tessa – sure did, thank you!

    Margie – She’s a beautiful girl and sooo sweet. Chuck and HB are awesome people, for sure, as are Lisa and Anita.

    HB!!! – I thought you’d get a kick out of that one :) Like my editing skillz? So awesome to meet you two. I’ll be at Blogher Food 09!

    Charlane – absolutely!

    Mark – ha ha, if I had real drawing talents, I would have done better than a silhouette ;) Oh well… What Y chromosome? ;)

    Jo – yes, keep practicing the macarons. They are so worth it.

    ETE – thanks!

    Ria – awww, thank you. It was fun.

    Debbie – yup! I don’t feel this way with everyone, but of my blog pals that I meet with, I’ve known them for at least a year (and none of them are axe murderers so far!) :)

    Courtney – you’re very sweet. Thanks.

    Karen – I totally understand. When it gets hot here, I won’t bake. It’s too maddening ;) You should try a macaron – a little bite of heaven!

    Patricia – I have no doubt you will pwn the macaron when you put your skilled hands to the task. And I know they’ll be gorgeous!

    Hillary – I want to do something with rose too! But haven’t gotten my hands on organic rose petals yet. Yes, a raspberry in the middle is really nice (I tried that here.

    Amy – thanks!

    Faith – :)

    Abby – oh, I’ve had my share of nightmares. Finicky, but worth it. Thanks – I hope you enter!

    Pinky – hee hee! Didn’t know that one.

    Asianmommy – thank you :)

    Sylvia – buttercream is a nice alternative if you’re tired of ganache.

    Maya – thanks!

    Fiona – Lucca is a lover, so sweet. Yes, she has lived through a lot of amazing history :)

    Mollie – thank you, hon. xxoo

    Nate – oh, it’s always a struggle with time b/c I try to spend most of it with Grandma, ya know.

    Candice – Lisa is a macaron-making star :)

    Melissa – absolutely agree with you there and very glad that you totally know what I mean. When Lucca was a puppy she was IRRESISTIBLE!

    Susan – they’re finicky, but they aren’t THAT hard. I really like making them now :)

    Anita – thank you!

    Anita – it was great to meet you, sweetie. Hope you guys fly this way more often :) You’re always welcome here. xxoo

    Y – that’s funny, because I love YOUR photos and your amazing creations! I think you need to make a trip to the US :)

    Bee – thank YOU for hosting xxoo

    Ashley – there are several varieties of lupine and these may be bluebonnets, but they might also be one of ten other species… Can you believe it?! But I love them – they’re gorgeous flowers whatever they are.

    Christy – good luck! I think you want the not overbeat the whites, but when you turn the bowl upside down, they shouldn’t fall out. Also, mix them just enough so that it flows slowly, but enough that it is all incorporated.

    Crystal – thank you!

    Ujju – thanks :)

    Kaye – thanks and welcome!

  49. CLICK: Cookies. The winners are … | jugalbandi says:

    […] strawberry buttercream macarons ~ use real butter […]

  50. syakirah says:

    it does not work. it appear flat ;(

  51. Andrea says:

    I know I’m 3 years late on this post – but I’ve just gotten into macaron making in the past year and took a hiatus for a few months because they’d frustrate me so badly some days. :) haha But I was looking for a cute pink filling that still sounded appetizing and found this strawberry buttercream of yours. I have tried some swiss meringue buttercream recipes on other sites that I have tried multiple times and couldn’t get to work so I was hesitant.. but this one worked beautifully and was SOOO INCREDIBLY tasty. I literally wanted to sit and eat it plain by the spoonful. It is so delicious. Thanks so much for sharing :)

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