I’ve always wondered exactly how Valentine’s Day became to be the one day of the year on February 14 when everyone exchanged candy, flowers, paper valentines, and heart-shaped gifts all in the name of Saint Valentine. It’s also known as a day of romance, where couples are encouraged to do something special together in recognition of this day. Greeting card stores, supermarkets, shopping malls, and shops everywhere simultaneously begin to carry red Valentine cards, heart-shaped Valentine’s balloons, and specialty Valentine’s chocolates in seasonal packaging, heart-shaped Valentine’s cookies, and Valentine ’s Day themed stuffed animals. Restaurants everywhere advertise a Valentine’s Day special or set meal for couples by candlelight. Suddenly, red roses are noticeably abundant, and not only in flower shops. Schools organize crafts to make valentine exchange cards or provide services to send valentine telegrams/anonymous gifts signed “Your Valentine”.
A consensus shows that Valentine’s Day is the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas!
While sending cards, flowers, and chocolates on February 14 is traditional in many parts of the world such as North America and the UK, other countries have regional customs for celebrating love which do not necessarily land on the same date. Regardless of how different customs define or celebrate their Valentine’s Day, the commonality is the belief that love is worthy of celebration! I agree!
Valentine’s Day is a centuries-old holiday that is modernly associated with symbols such as the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. It’s hard to avoid seeing anything heart-shaped in the weeks before Valentine’s Day. I like to be festive at every occasion, but I don’t believe that there is only one day of the year where love is more special or romantic. Love should be celebrated every day, and if you love someone you should celebrate the privilege of telling them every day. Better yet, think of creative ways to tell your loved ones that you love them.
Since I enjoy getting festive with the festivities of the season, I decided to make some Valentine’s Day treats for my hubby and his family. Since Chinese New Year was in late January this year, I had to switch gears right after I had taken down my Christmas tree (yes, I keep my Christmas decorations up until Chinese New Year has passed). No sooner was my Christmas tree packed than my Valentine’s baking began!
I had a bottle of rose water sitting in the door of the refrigerator behind other bottles for quite a number of weeks. After thinking for a moment what sweet treats I could make incorporating rose water with a Valentine’s theme, I decided to go with macaroons. I admit, I had never actually made macaroons before and my experience with macaroons is sadly miniscule. When I told my hubby about my idea to make macaroons as my first Valentine’s blog post, he was excited because he has never had a macaroon before (he’s allergic to nuts, and sometimes store bought ones might use ground nuts instead of ground almonds). So I was determined to develop a recipe for macaroons using the rose water.
My first attempt was a failure. But then I tweaked the recipe and my methods and….. Success!!! They were so soft and airy, and the coconut butter cream was an excellent match. My husband’s parents enjoyed them so much that they requested I make a green tea flavored macaroon for them to share with their colleagues at work! Of course, I accepted the challenge to develop another macaroon recipe, and I’m happy to share them here on my blog!
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp rosewater
Red food coloring
1 tbsp caster sugar
Coconut butter cream filling
125 g butter, softened (about 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
Line 3 completely flat baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Be sure the parchment paper is cut the right size so that it lays flat on the baking sheet.
Tip: It’s a good idea to draw 4 cm circles on the parchment paper with a pencil ahead of time. That way, when you pipe the batter onto the baking sheets, you can use the circles as a guide. Just be sure to turn the parchment paper over so that the pencil is facing downwards before piping the batter.
Sift the icing sugar and almond meal together into a large bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, rosewater, and a few drops of red food coloring and beat on high for 30 seconds.
Add the caster sugar and beat on high for 5 to 8 minutes or until soft peaks form. When you lift the beater from the bowl, the egg whites should hold a straight peak that doesn’t curl at the tip.
Fold the egg white mixture into the almond meal mixture in 2 batches until smooth.
Put the batter into a piping bag fitted with the Ateco #11 round tip (7 mm diameter).
Pipe the batter onto the prepared sheets of parchment paper in rounds that are about 4 cm/1.6 inches in diameter and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, spaced at least 1 inch apart.
Hold the piping bag perpendicular to the baking sheet as you pipe and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Tap the baking sheets against the counter several times to flatten the mounds and pop any large air bubbles. Let rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes until the batter mounds no longer feel sticky. Test the surface of the batter by touching it very lightly with your finger. If it still sticks to your finger, let it rest for a few minutes more before baking, to ensure that the cookies form a crisp, delicate top when baked.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325oF with one oven rack on the top 1/3 of the oven, and the other rack on the bottom 1/3 of the oven.
At the same time, make the cream filling. Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until pale and creamy.
Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the coconut and then beat just until combined. Place the filling in a piping bag to use immediately.
Put 2 of the cookies sheets in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 300oF. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the sheets and swap their positions. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cookies are very pale golden on the bottom.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on the baking sheets. Meanwhile, bake the third baking sheet as described.
When all the cookies have cooled completely, carefully remove them from the parchment paper and pair them by size. Using a piping bag with the same tip used to pipe the cookies, pipe the cream filling onto half the cookies, leaving a narrow unfilled border. You want to pipe just enough of the filling that it spreads to the edge when topped with the other cookie.
Top the filled halves with their paired cookie.
Serve the cookies the same day (recommended).
To store: Put the macaroons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Warm to room temperature for 30 minutes before eating.