Baking provides alternatives for Valentine’s Day presents

afterlightAs Valentine’s Day approaches, people scramble to find appropriate gifts for significant others, as well as friends and family. For many, especially girls, baking is the best option.

Red Velvet Macarons

The elusive French macarons have been the latest craze in ‘fashion desserts.’ The cute sandwich cookies with endless combinations of colors, flavors, and fillings are perfect for all occasions. I will say one thing though, making macarons is tedious. From my own experiences, it will take several tries to make them successfully.


*weight measurements are used for more successful macarons

  • 70 grams egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 115 grams powdered sugar
  • 60 grams almond flour (this is just ground, blanched almonds)
  • 6 grams or 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 40 grams granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon red food color


  1. In a food processor, pulse together the almond meal, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar until it is blended well.
  2. Sift the almond, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar mixture with a fine mesh sieve.
  3. In another bowl, with a handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites. Once they become foamy, gradually add the granulated sugar. This will create a meringue.
  4. Keep beating until you are able to pull the beaters out and the peaks that form do not droop. These are called stiff peaks. Also, you should be able to flip the bowl over your head and nothing should fall out. At this point, you should also beat in your food coloring and vanilla extract.
  5. Once you have reached stiff peaks, add the dry ingredients to the meringue. Take a rubber spatula and fold the ingredients together, trying not to deflate the meringue too much. Keep folding until the mixture flows off the spatula in ribbons.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Now, take the mixture and pour it into a piping bag (you can also use a large Ziploc bag). Once the bag is filled, cut the tip off and pipe circles of the mixture onto the baking sheet. They should be about one to one and a half inches in diameter (try to make the sizes as uniform as possible because they will be sandwiched together).
  8. Once the macaron batter is piped, bang the baking sheet on the table a few times to release any air bubbles. Let the piped macarons sit on the counter until they are dry to the touch. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 300°F.
  9.  After about 30 minutes, the macarons should be dry, depending on the humidity. Place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven and back for about 15 minutes. Once they are finished baking, take them out of the oven and let them cool before adding the filling.

For the filling:


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces powdered sugar


  1. Beat together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract
  2. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth
  3. Once the macarons are cooled, fill another piping bag with the buttercream filling and pipe dollops onto half of the macarons.
  4. Sandwich them shells together and place in an airtight container.

*macarons are best after they have been aged in the refrigerator for a day or two. They last up to a couple weeks.