3-4 tablespoons passionfruit jam or gelée (seeds strained out)
Unsweetened cocoa powder (to dust)
First make the cream filling
Combine cream cheese and butter with an electric hand-held beater or a stand mixer until soft and creamy.
Gradually add the icing sugar (to taste – I like mine on the tart side) and then add the passion fruit gelée/ jam
Continue to mix to combine well.
Line two heavy baking trays with Silpat.
Prepare a 14” piping bag with a plain tip (I use Ateco 803), twist the bag at the tip end and place inside a glass to facilitate filling the bag.
Weigh the ground almonds, powdered sugar, cocoa and basil into a food processor bowl placed on a digital scale to ensure the correct weight.
Pulse the almond/ sugar/ cocoa mixture a few times.
Sift the almond/ sugar/ cocoa mixture into a large bowl.
Add the first 55g egg whites and food colouring.
Mix vigorously to form a stiff paste with a wooden spoon. Set aside.
Place the other 55g egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Meanwhile, place the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
Once the liquid starts to boil around the edges (bubbles forming), place a digital thermometer in the liquid and when the liquid reaches 112˚C (234˚F), start whisking the egg whites at a high speed in the stand mixer (about 8).
Once the sugar syrup reaches 118˚F (244˚F), remove the saucepan from the heat and reduce the speed of the stand mixer to the lowest speed.
Carefully pour the sugar syrup into the egg white mixture and once you have added it all, turn the speed up to maximum.
Beat the meringue mixture until the bowl is *just* warm to the touch (if you want to check with a digital thermometer it, it should be around 50˚C (122˚F).
Add about ⅓ of the meringue mixture into the ground almond paste, mixing vigorously until you cannot see any white streaks of meringue.
Add about another ⅓ of the meringue to the almond paste mixture.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently lift some of the mixture and, as you are turning the bowl about a quarter turn, allow the mixture to drop back gently into the bowl.
Continue like this until all the meringue is incorporated and you can’t see any more white streaks. It will take a while, be patient and certainly don’t beat the mixture vigorously at this stage.
Add the last ⅓ of the mixture and continue to incorporate the meringue gently using the lift and turn the bowl method until all the meringue is combined.
The mixture should fall smoothly off the spatula (it might still look a little grainy at this stage – that’s ok) when it’s ready.
Transfer the mixture to the piping bag, sealing the open end with a twist and holding firmly with the hand that will not be actively piping.
Pipe your macarons, holding the piping tip at an angle touching the baking sheet, about 3cm in diameter (they will spread during cooking), and quickly removing the tip when you have finished piping, making a shape like a comma.
REST the tray of macaron shells for 30 minutes before baking. At this point you should pre-heat the oven to 320˚F.
Bake for 14 minutes at 320˚F, turning the trays from back to front halfway through.
A better test to see if they are cooked than simply watching the clock is to place a finger and a thumb on opposite sides of a macaron shell and slightly move it from side to side. If it jiggles, it’s not cooked, if it stays put, it’s cooked.
Remove from oven and let the tray sit for a few minutes.
Remove silpat from the tray and place on a cool surface and allow to sit a few minutes longer, then remove macaron shells to a cooling rack.
Pair up like shells to facilitate the filling process.
Once completely cool (preferably the next day), fill with the cream filling.
Best enjoyed 24 hours after filling. Seriously. Dust some cocoa powder over the shells before you serve them.
Macarons will keep in the fridge for about a week (right!) - just make sure to bring them to room temperature for about 15 minutes before you eat them.
Recipe by eat. live. travel. write. at http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/2013/01/chocolate-basil-macarons-with-passion-fruit-cream-cheese-filling-for-the-mccormick-flavor-forecast/