Valentine Mararons with Strawberry Cheesecake Filling – Great Food For Kid Ideas

  1. Line two baking trays with good quality baking paper.
  2. Place icing sugar in food processor and pulse for a minute to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse for about 30 seconds to combine. (If you don’t have a processor just sift together with a fine sieve.) Sift into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in a medium mixing bowl until it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.
  4. Add meringue to your dry mixture and mix together with a spatula, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white (you really want to beat all the large bubbles out of the mixture, which is easily done by smearing the mixture on the bottom and side of the bowl with your spatula), then mix carefully as the dry mixture becomes just incorporated. At this point you need to separate your mixture into two bowls so you can add the pink food colouring to one bowl. For the mixture that will be piped as small hearts, I separated about 1/3-1/2 cup mixture from the rest of it. Add pink food colouring to one bowl, depending on which colour combination you want to use. Stir both mixtures until it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after about 30 seconds.
  5. Place the smaller amount of mixture in a piping bag with a narrow (about 2mm wide) round tip for piping the small hearts. Place remaining mixture in a piping bag with a 1cm round piping tip. With the larger bag, pipe circles about 3cm wide on your prepared trays, leaving about 3cm space around each one. Tap baking sheets carefully and firmly on the benchtop a couple times to remove any large bubbles. Then use the smaller piping bag to very carefully pipe small hearts in the centre of each piped macaron shell by piping a tiny V-shape (here is an example video of me piping a larger version, but the technique should still be pretty much the same)
  6. Leave to dry for about 60 mins minimum, until when you press the surface of one gently it does not break/stick to your finger. This will help prevent any cracking and help the feet to form on the macs. (I find the easiest way to do this is to point a fan at the shells, but make sure you stick or weigh down the baking paper first)
  7. Preheat your oven to 130-150°C (265-300°F), depending on your oven (fan-forced ovens may need to be set as low as 100°C, it really depends) . You can place the sheet of piped shells on top of an upside-down roasting tray or another baking tray, for better heat distribution.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Carefully test if the base of the shell is ready by gently lifting one and if it’s still soft and sticking to the baking paper, then it needs to bake for a few minutes longer.  Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes, then gently remove from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.

For the Strawberry Cheesecake filling:

  1. Place butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Add icing sugar, strawberry jam and strawberry extract to the bowl and beat until combined.
  3. If you find the mixture too runny, you can keep adding more icing sugar until it stiffens up more, you can also chill the mixture in the fridge to help it set slightly before piping.
  4. Place in a piping bag, pipe and sandwich between macarons shells (sprinkle a bit of crushed biscuit crumbs on top of the filling before sandwiching if you want to add the cheesecake crust element).
  5. Place macarons in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight to allow macaron flavour to mature. Serve at room temperature.

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