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Strawberry Cheesecake Macarons

Well, well, well, macarons. We meet again. I took an almost two year hiatus from making you guys, but I am back and apparently, better than ever. These are my least hollow macarons to date. In fact, these weren't hollow at all. 
But it's not always rainbows and butterflies. Baking macarons while simultaneously hoping your infant doesn't wake up as you are making the sugar syrup is pretty nerve-wracking to say the least. And sometimes, it makes you forget that the mixer needs to be on high while you're adding said sugar syrup so that you don't cook your egg whites. 

So yeah, that happened. Surprisingly enough, a few strands of cooked egg white didn't affect my batter and my first batch of these wasn't half bad. The color was just off.
I wanted to try to go completely food coloring-free, but unfortunately, when using freeze-dried strawberries without any added food coloring, it creates a sort of brownish-faintly pinkish color that's not very appealing. So, I made them again with some more coloring. Feel free to use as much food coloring as you'd like, just be sure to use a gel paste or a powdered one would be even better.
Now let's talk flavor! I've said it before and I'll say it again--- freeze-dried strawberries are THE way to achieve perfect strawberry flavor in all your baked goods. It's just so effortless. These macarons shells are strawberry flavored and I paired them with a liquid cheesecake filling. 
Yes, that's right. Liquid cheesecake. Created by the famous Christina Tosi and in my opinion, it should really be called liquid gold. It's heavenly and lends these macarons the perfect cheesecake flavor without overdoing it with a sometimes too sweet cream cheese frosting.

Strawberry Cheesecake Macarons

Yield: 30 macarons
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106 grams almond flour 
100 grams powdered sugar
12 grams ground freeze-dried strawberries
41 grams egg whites, for almond paste 
45 grams egg whites, for meringue 
118 grams granulated sugar 
79 grams water

For the liquid cheesecake filling:
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 large egg


Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set aside. 

 Add almond flour, powdered sugar, and ground freeze-dried strawberries to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine and break apart any big lumps. Sift mixture into a clean bowl. Discard any large pieces that do not pass through the sieve. Add 41 grams egg whites to the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture. Mix together with a spatula until you form a uniform paste. Set aside. 

To the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, add 45 grams egg whites. (Add food coloring at this step, if desired) Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. At the same time, add water and granulated sugar to a small saucepan. Heat on medium-heat, monitoring the temperature with a candy thermometer while you do so. Once the temperature is 248 degrees F, you'll want to switch the speed of the mixer to medium-low, and slowly stream the hot syrup unto the mixer. Then, increase the speed to high and beat until the meringue reaches stiff, glossy peaks. 

Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the almond paste, mixing until well-incorporated. Add in the rest of the meringue, and fold until the batter is able to run off the spatula in ribbons. 

Pipe 1.5 inch rounds onto the parchment paper(or silicone mat). It is helpful to use a guide here, so all your macarons are the same size. I piped some hearts freehand as well.

Rest the macarons for 10 minutes, or until a skin forms. 

Preheat oven to 320 degrees F. Bake macarons for 13-15 minutes. Allow macarons to completely cool on baking sheets before removing.

To make the liquid cheesecake, add cream cheese to a bowl and using an electric hand mixer, beat for a few minutes until smooth and creamy. Beat in sugar, until well-incorporated.

In a glass measuring up, whisk together cornstarch, salt, and milk. Add in egg and whisk until well-combined. Pour egg mixture into cream cheese mixture slowly, beating after each addition until well-incorporated. 

Line an 8x8 inch glass pan with wax paper. Pour cheesecake mixture into pan and bake in a 300 degree preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. The outside edges should be set and the middle should be jiggly and not quite set.

Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. Transfer liquid cheesecake to a piping bag and pipe a dollop onto the flat side of half the shells. Top with opposite shell. 

Refrigerate macarons in an airtight container for 24 hours to let the flavors develop. Bring to room temperature (about 2 hours) before serving.

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