CHERRY BLOSSOM MACARONS with CHERRY BLOSSOM BUTTERCREAM
This blog post is from 2019 but the pictures have been updated in the year 2022. The blog post has some updates as well.
Cherry Blossoms are blooming everywhere right now! There is something airy, dreamy and beautiful about the blossoms, that make them so gorgeous. I will have to get a couple of plants to plant in our backyard so by next Spring I can see the blooms in my own yard! I am loving all the yellow wildflowers everywhere too, it’s just so pretty and makes up for all the winter cold months and the rain! I am very intrigued by the cherry blossoms! They make beautiful desserts!
Last year I made a cherry blossom lemon roll cake which turned out so beautiful. It had a raspberry buttercream inside. The cherry blossom was pipped on the baking tray first, baked for 5 minutes, and then the cake layer was piped on it. I was stoked with the result! The link for the lemon cake roll is here.
This year, I wanted to do something more dramatic, something more visually pleasing. I found out that you can get pickled dried cherry blossoms and sakura leaf powder from an online Japanese store. The store also has cherry blossom jam! The bottle is super adorable and the color is a dreamy pale pink. The store link is here. I also bought the cherry blossom extract from a Japanese seller on Amazon. The extract smells absolutely wonderful. I have linked it here.
I wonder if one can make their own cherry blossom extract similar to vanilla extract with cherry blossoms and alcohol. I must do my research so I can make the cherry blossom extract. So that is the flavor profile I went with. I actually put sakura(cherry blossom in Japanese) leaf powder that is more flavorful than the flowers themselves in the macaron shell, along with the cherry blossom extract.
What do the Macaron Shells have:
The ingredients used in the macaron shells are:
- Almond flour : I use Bob’s Red Mill Almond flour, because the flour is just fine enough for the french macarons. The flour does make the best macarons!
- Confectioner’s sugar : Confectioner’s sugar is used in the shells to keep it consistent with the texture of the almond flour.
- Room temperature egg whites : Always use room temperature egg whites, and make sure to weigh your egg whites, to get the right consistency of the batter for the macaron shells.
- Granulated sugar : It is required to make the meringue with the egg whites.
- Cream of tartar: This is necessary to form a firmer meringue.
- Cherry Blossom Extract: I bought the cherry blossom extract from a seller on Amazon. The fragrance is so wonderful, and I love the flavor it imparts to the shell and the buttercream.
- Vanilla extract : I love adding a bit of vanilla extract to my shells, cause again it flavors the shells, which would otherwise just taste sugary.
- Sakura Leaf powder : This is the dried powder of the cherry blossom leaves. I found this powder at the online Japanese store linked above. The shells do have a beautiful subtle flavor because of this leaf powder.
- Americolor : Dusty Rose food gel color. I use a few drops of this pretty pink color, to color the shells.
TIPS for Making good Macaron shells:
- Always weigh all the ingredients. It is absolutely necessary to weigh each ingredient properly. Else you will not be successful in macaron making.
- When sifting the almond flour and confectioner’s sugar, make sure to sieve it 4 to 5 times. Remove the larger chunks at the end of the sieving, you will get an idea what I am talking about.
- When making the meringue, with the egg whites and sugar, make sure to whip for a good 5 to 7 minutes, until the meringue has a soft peak, when the whisk attachment is inverted. This is an important step.
- When blending the flour mixture into the meringue, make sure to blend it in one direction, and then flattening the spatula against the wall of the bowl. You are removing the air from the mixture. Do not overwhip else your batter will be too runny. You want to be able to form a figure 8 with the batter, but yet have a very slight firmness to the batter.
- Bake sure to bang the tray atleast 10 times to settle the shells, and if there are an air bubbles on the top, pop them with a tooth pick and smoothen the area.
- I always suggest to bake 3 to 4 shells to know your oven temperature and how long you need to bake it for. My oven takes about 16 to 17 minutes to bake the shells at 310 degrees C.
- I love using silicon mats for macarons. The shells come out perfectly round and even, and they come off the mat easily too. They are not too expensive and they are an investment, especially if you plan to make macarons very often.
Cherry Blossom Buttercream:
The buttercream is very easy to make. I used:
- Unsalted room temperature butter
- confectioner’s sugar
- cherry blossom extract
- vanilla extract
- dried and chopped cherry blossoms
For removing the salt pickling from the cherry blossoms, you put them in cold water in a bowl, and let the pickled cherry blossoms for an hour. Gently remove each flower, rinse them, and squeeze out the water and lay them on a paper towel. Do the same for the remaining flowers. Pat them dry with another paper towel and let them dry overnight. For the buttercream, I used cherry blossom extract, as well as finely chopped cherry blossoms in the buttercream. I piped the buttercream in dollops on the macaron ring, and put the cherry blossom jam in the center. I put homemade strawberry and hibiscus jam for some of them!
If you want to use Royal Icing to make a simple Cherry Blossom Macaron decoration:
We used royal icing to decorate the tops. I made a slightly stiff royal icing. I used the Wilton Royal Icing from their website. I had to add a little bit more water, since the icing was way too stiff to pipe. The icing was divided into 3 bowls, and I used Americolor Fuschia, Deep Pink to create the 2 shades of pink and Brown for the branches. My kids and I had a blast pipping the branches and cherry blossoms on the macaron. I gave them their own shells and they did their own decorations and buttercream pipping and ate their own macarons.
If you want to pipe cherry blossom flowers, use American buttercream:
I used #103 and #104 for the petal tips, to get the lighter pink and fuschia color for the cherry blossom flowers. I also used #2 for the brown stalk. The tips that I use are Wilton tips, and are available at the www.wilton.com site or on Amazon. For the brown color, I use Chocolate Brown in Americolor, along with a smidge of black in it to get that dark brown color.
For the pink variations for the 2 kind of pink cherry blossoms, I played around with Americolor Dusty Rose, Soft Pink, Deep Pink and Fuschia to get the 2 colors that I have on the shells. I also used 12 inch wilton plastic piping bags for the flowers. I lined the inside with 2 streaks of fuschia, using a tooth pick, so that I can get a toned variation on the flowers as you can see in some of the flowers. It gives this beautiful shaded flower pattern look.
My 9 year old has a mind of her own – loads of thoughts, opinions and suggestions always! I love seeing her creative thinking process, and how she works on her little craft projects on weekends. It is fascinating to watch. Whenever I am brainstorming a recipe, or an idea, she has to chime in with her suggestions. Quite a few of my decorating ideas stem from her input! It is really cute to hear! While we were shooting these macs one weekend, and I got the cherry blossom branches(hoping no passer-by noticed me!), she said to put the macs as if they were cherry blossoms on the tree, and show a couple ‘flying away’ with a few flowers around it! So I listened to her and I love the idea and how it turned out! All credit goes to the cutie! 🙂
If you have any questions regarding making macarons, please feel free to let me know and I will be happy to answer all your questions. I have gone through my fair share of loads of bad macarons, and it has taken be a long time to get to this stage, so any help that I can give would be useful for you.