week 3. strawberry macs x strawberry cream cheese buttercream

using my base recipe, I subbed out cocoa powder for the equivalent amount of almond flour and finely ground dried strawberries to flavor it. I was actually pretty nervous about using the strawberry powder because of the sugar content, but they turned out perfectly!

ingredients | shells

mixture a:
freeze-dried strawberries
-finely ground                                             18g
almond flour                                                19g

almond TPT*                                                300g
powdered sugar                                        38g

egg whites                                                      73g          

mixture b:
egg whites                                                      73g
salt                                                                       0.5g
water                                                                  50g
sugar                                                                  188g
light corn syrup                                          10g

* TPT means equal parts powdered sugar and another ingredient, in this case it’s almond flour, and you will use 150g of each to equal the 300g.

method | shells

bring all ingredients to room temperature.

use a blender (vitamix does a great job) to grind the freeze-dried strawberries until it becomes a fine powder.

from “mixture a,” sift together the strawberry powder, almond flour, almond TPT, and powdered sugar into a large bowl and set aside. (it’s important to sift to make sure everything is very fine).

from “mixture b” whisk the egg whites and salt in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment set to 4 and leave it there while you make a syrup.

make a syrup from “mixture b.” first add the water, then the sugar, then the corn syrup into a small saucepan. pour the sugar in very slowly so that it all gets incorporated into the water, being very careful not to get any on the sides of the saucepan or your syrup can crystallize. do not stir!! stirring can also cause crystallization. just let it do its thing.

heat this syrup on medium until it boils and reaches 248°F. really, don’t stir it!

tip: you can take the chill off the eggs if you hold the bowl over the heating saucepan for a few seconds while swirling it around or stirring it.

turn up the standing mixer to 8 to create soft peaks while the syrup is still heating up to the right temperature.

to create the meringue, slowly pour the hot syrup along the side of the bowl into the mixing egg whites and let it mix until it’s stiff, but still shiny.

take the egg whites from “mixture a,” plus a spatula full of the meringue and mix it into the sifted almond, strawberry powder, powdered sugar mixture that you made earlier. fold this together with a spatula until you form a thick paste.

fold the rest of the meringue into that paste until it becomes glossy and slightly runny. (you’ll know when it’s done when the batter slowly falls off your spatula like a thick ribbon and settles into itself in the bowl after a few seconds. you don’t want it to be any runnier than that because you don’t want the mixture to spread once it’s piped).

scoop batter into a pastry bag fitted with about a 10mm piping tip, and pipe quarter sized bulbs onto parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a sheet pan.

tip: if a little nub from where you released the piping bag doesn’t settle into itself, you can use a small paintbrush to tap it down.

tap the bottom of the pan a couple times to prevent any air bubbles while baking.

bake on your oven’s convection setting at 280° for 15 minutes. for the first 5 minutes with the oven door closed, and the remaining 10 minutes with a wooden spoon propping the oven door open a bit.

let cool completely before filling.

ingredients | strawberry cream cheese buttercream

cream cheese                                            8oz brick
butter                                                                1/4 cup

powdered sugar                                        1 cup
vanilla extract                                              1/2 tsp

strawberry powder                                  1 heaping tbsp
gel food coloring*                                      1-2 drops (optional)

* I intended to use 1 drop of food coloring and accidentally squeezed in 1/4 of the bottle and ended up with neon pink frosting. it still looks pretty, just not what I was originally going for. the suggested 1-2 drops will result in a lighter color.

method | strawberry cream cheese buttercream

in the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy.

add in the vanilla extract and mix for about 30 more seconds, then add in powdered sugar and mix on the "stir" setting until incorporated, then up the speed to about 6 for about a minute.

add in your strawberry powder and food coloring (if you decide to use it) and whip on 6 for another minute.

spread or pipe buttercream on your shells and sandwich together.

store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

tip: the sizes of all of your shells will tend to be slightly different, so make sure you buddy up your shells to similarly sized partners so that the entire cookie is a consistent size.