Macarons are a treat anytime, but red, white, and blue macarons are like fireworks. They steal the show! These macarons are vanilla with a cream cheese filling. The vibrant red and blue colors are achieved with food coloring. See the recipe notes below for the food colorings I used.
I like to use a mat to make macarons, even though you can make them without one. The mat I use has cavities to contain the batter in perfect circles, which makes a rounder cookie. Most professional macarons seem perfectly round which means bakers have had a lot of practice! Another way to make macarons without a mat is to pull off a sheet of parchment paper and pen or pencil-draw circles on it by tracing around a small (about 1-inch) object such as a lid. Then turn the parchment paper over so that your batter doesn’t touch the pencil markings. Yes, the circles will appear through the paper.
Once the cookies are piped onto the baking mat, you can start to make the filling while the macarons cure. or dry out. I allow 45 minutes for drying. You will know they are dry by sticking a finger on the top of one. If the batter sticks to your finger, they are not ready. If they don’t stick to your finger at all, they are ready for the oven.
Sometimes I make the shells one day and do the filling and piping the next day. One mistake I have made after baking the shells is putting them in a ziplock bag. Because the bottom sides of the macarons are sticky, unlike the tops that have been cured by drying, they stick together and are very hard to separate. Usually, this damages some of the cookies. I would suggest placing the cookie shells in rows and place a sheet of wax paper between them. But you must seal them in an airtight container. Macaron shells dry out quickly and become hard and brittle easily. They should be chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
Piping the batter with a pastry bag gives a thick layer of filling in each macaron. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can spread the filling with a knife or spoon. Sometimes this is a better way to go when you don’t like a thick filling.
Macarons have a short shelf life so it is best to eat them within a couple of days. Freeze any leftovers. I have left them in the freezer for six months and longer and they have tasted fine and kept the chewy texture.
Experiment with different filling flavors and types of filling. A solid filling works best which means that whipped cream is not a good option because it becomes runny and makes the cookies soggy.
Macarons can be temperamental, but they are fairly easy to make once you get the hang of it. But be careful because they might just upstage you at your own party