Vanilla Macarons with Cream Cheese and Jam

3 oz. almond meal
5.25 oz. powdered sugar
3 large eggs white, brought to room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean seeded

food coloring, optional

Line a baking sheet with either a silicone baking sheet or parchment. If you are using parchment, you can trace 1-inch circles onto it and use that as a guide as you pipe the shells.
Mix granulated sugar w/ food coloring, if using, set aside.
Place almond meal and powdered sugar (and vanilla bean, if using) into the bowl of a food processor and grind into a fine powder. Sift the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside.
Either with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or beater, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar to egg white with the mixer on medium speed. Stir in vanilla extract if using. Continue to beat on high speed until glossy and firm, but not dry.
Add half of the sifted flour mixture to egg whites. Stir with a spatula while scooping it up from the bottom of the bowl. Add the rest of the flour and mix lightly in a circular motion. Once the flour is incorporated, press the batter against the side of the bowl, spreading it out. Scoop the batter from the bottom and fold it over. Repeat this step 15 times. The batter should be thick and drip in a slow ribbon from your spatula.
Fit a pastry bag with a round tip and fill bag with batter. Pipe rounds onto baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between each. The batter will spread as you pipe, so pipe small circles. Rap the sheet against the counter to release any bubbles. Dry shells on the sheet pan until a crust forms, 15-30 minutes depending on the humidity in your area. If the batter doesn’t stick when you touch the shells, they are done.
Heat oven to 375 F. Stack the baking sheet on another, empty sheet. Place onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake 14-15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. If the insides are still too soft after 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 300 F and cover the tray with foil (so shells do  not brown) and continue to bake for 2-3 minutes more. Cool completely on a wire rack before removing and filling.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese at room temp.
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine cream cheese and vanilla. With a stand mixer or electric beater, beat until light and creamy. Add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate. If refrigerating, bring to room temp and beat again until it becomes light and spreadable.


adapted from I Love Macarons

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