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Sweet cookies for your sweetheart

Valentine's Day presents an opportunity to shower loved ones with special gifts, including treats. Dessert is a significant component of Valentine's Day, as chocolates and cakes are given and consumed in abundance.

French macarons are a great sweet for amateur bakers to add to their Valentine's Day repertoire. Making macarons often is a labor of love, so offering a sweetheart a plate of these chewy, meringue-based cookies really shows you care. Vary the filling of choice depending on your beloved's favorite flavors.

Enjoy this recipe for "French Macarons," which utilizes the Swiss meringue method, courtesy of Karli Bitner and her "Cooking with Karli" blog. Weighing the ingredients produces more reliable results.

French Macarons

Make 20 macarons

• 100 grams powdered sugar

• 100 grams superfine almond flour

• 100 grams egg whites

• 100 grams granulated sugar

• Vanilla buttercream filling

• 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

• 11/2 cups powdered sugar

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• Up to 2 tablespoons heavy cream

• Food coloring, if desired

1. Measure out all ingredients.

2. Sift together the powdered sugar and almond flour. Set aside.

3. Add 1 cup of water to your sauce pan or to the liner of your Instant Pot.

4. Heat the water over medium heat until steaming.

5. While the water is heating, add the egg and 3 tablespoons of the measured out sugar to the bowl you'll be using for the double boiler.

6. Once the water is steaming, place the bowl over the steaming water and whisk until the egg whites are foamy and white. When they are foamy and white, remove the bowl from the pan or Instant Pot and set on a hot pad on the counter. Turn off the burner or Instant Pot.

7. Add the remaining sugar to the egg whites and mix using an electric hand mixture until the egg whites are white, glossy and can form stiff peaks.

8. Add the food coloring now if you'd like to color your macarons. Mix until combined.

9. Add the powdered sugar and almond flour to the bowl and mix with your mixer for 8 seconds. After the 8 seconds is up, use a silicone spatula to stir and smear the batter from the outside of the bowl towards the center. Turn the bowl as you do this to make sure all of the batter gets stirred equally.

10. Do this until your batter thins and is able to drizzle a ribbon of batter for a few seconds without it breaking.

11. Transfer the batter to a piping bag equipped with a round piping tip.

12. Pipe equal circles onto a silicone or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Make sure that your piping bag is straight up and down. Apply equal pressure and release pulling straight back up. Repeat with the remaining batter.

13. Bang the pan gently but firmly onto the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.

14. Preheat oven to 300 F.

15. Allow the macarons to dry out as the oven preheats, for about 20 to 30 minutes. Your macarons should be dry to the touch before going into the oven.

16. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes at 300 F. The macarons should not turn brown.

17. Allow the macarons to cool completely on the pan.

18. When the macarons are completely cool, make your filling.

19. Make your filling by combining all ingredients using either a stand mixer or your electric hand mixer. Slowly add in the heavy cream (you can substitute milk if you'd like) because you want a thick buttercream so it doesn't squirt out while eating the macaron.

20. Once the buttercream is mixed together and your desired consistency, gently pipe some frosting onto the bottom side of one cookie and then sandwich the frosting with the bottom side of a second cookie to create your macaron.

21. Repeat with remaining cookies.


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