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To make macaron shells, place the freeze-dried strawberries between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, crush the strawberries into a fine powder. (TIP: Do this step right before you begin making macarons, because the strawberry powder draws in moisture and affects the texture of the batter.)
In a medium bowl, sift together almond flour, powdered sugar and powdered strawberries twice. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat. Slowly add sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat the meringue until hard peaks form. Add couple drops of red food coloring. Beat on medium speed for one more minute. (Watch this meringue video for more information.)
Sift the almond flour mixture over the whipped egg whites. Gently fold the mixture running the spatula clockwise from the bottom, up around the sides and cut the batter in half. The batter will look very thick at first, but it will get thinner as you fold. Be careful not to over mix it though. Every so often test the batter to see if it reached the right consistency. To test the batter, drop a small amount of the batter and count to ten. If the edges of the ribbon are dissolved within about ten seconds, then the batter is ready. I repeat, do NOT mix again. If you still see edges, fold the batter couple more times and test again. This step is so crucial, so please make sure to test often to ensure not to over mix the batter.
Transfer the batter into a pastry bag with a round tip. (I used this Wilton #12 plain round tip.)
Place the template with hearts under the parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pipe the batter as if you’re drawing two hooks facing each other, tracing the template. You’ll get about 58 single shells on 2 baking sheets.
Tap the baking sheets firmly on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. If you don’t release the air bubbles, they will expand during baking and crack the beautiful macarons shells. If needed, use a toothpick to pop stubborn air bubbles and smooth out the shells.
Let the macarons rest and dry for at least 15-30 minutes. On a humid day, it might take an hour or so. To see if it’s ready to be baked, lightly touch it. If the batter doesn’t stick to your finger, then it’s ready.
Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
Bake the macarons for 18-20 minutes. To check the doneness, remove one macaron. If the bottom does not stick, they are done.
Transfer to wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, and then carefully remove from the baking sheets.
To make buttercream filling, while macarons are drying, prepare the strawberry buttercream. In a mixing bowl with whisk attachment, beat the butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, heavy cream, strawberry jam, vanilla extract and salt and beat until well combined. Transfer the buttercream into a pastry bag.
To assemble the macarons, pair the shells by size and arrange them on a wire rack, or a baking sheet. Turn half of the shells upside and pipe the buttercream filling around the edges, leaving a small hole in the middle. Using a small spoon, drop a small amount of strawberry jam in the hole, or place strawberry jam in a piping bag and pipe the jam in the middle of the filling. Cover with the other shell and done!
To mature the macarons, place the filled macarons in the fridge for up to 24 hours before serving. It's ok to indulge right away, if you're impatient like me!
Store the filled macarons in airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the filled macarons in airtight container for up to 3 months.