The last post on macarons concentrated on the method- my strong preference is the Italian meringue method as my failures have been using the French meringue method. It may seem way more complicated to make a sugar syrup and have to use a sugar thermometer but if you do it a couple of times and everything is perfect with everyone swooning over the 'feet' on your macarons it'll be worth it.
So get that digital sugar thermometer out of the drawer again and make one of the best fillings for these lovelies. Yes, it's a favourite of American cupcake and layer cake bakers, Swiss meringue buttercream. It's perfect for macarons because it is stable, great piping consistency, can easily be coloured with gel paste and flavoured. But best of all it is not too sweet, unlike the more common buttercream icing which I think is way too sweet.
Most American bakers have a tried and tested recipe for Swiss meringue buttercream, so if you have one use that. I used a quantity which makes 3 cups, plenty for your batch of macaron fillings:
2 large egg whites (always have your egg whites at room temperature)
4oz /110g sugar
6oz/160g unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon pieces
Optional flavouring of your choice, I used maple syrup for the pumpkin ones pictured above. Vanilla bean is a great one too.
Place the egg whites and sugar in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved. If you feel more confident using a thermometer it should register 115°F. At any rate when you feel it between your fingers it is smooth. It's now time to remove the bowl from the pan and attach to your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk initially on medium for 5 minutes. Then increase speed and whisk for a further 6 minutes until it has stiff glossy peak. Only now is it time to add your butter piece by piece on a low speed. It's during these additions that the mixture can separate but don't panic, have a bag of ice ready and place it around the base of your mixing bowl. When all the butter is combined raise the speed until it is fluffy. don't forget to add any flavourings or colour paste.
Place in a piping bag with a nozzle of you choice and you are done.
Macarons actually improve after a few hours or overnight in the fridge. Their chewiness is improved.
There are many alternative fillings and if you are short of time mascarpone (do NOT beat!) and dolce de leche is wonderful, as is mascarpone and lemon curd as a filling for lemon macaron.
Sometimes I put the on popsticks – you'll need to make a chocolate ganache for the sticks to stay in the filling. White or dark chelate both work well, just remember to use the best chocolate you can afford.