I was inspired to make this recipe because, unfortunately, African American pastry chefs are often viewed as less skilled than their French, Italian, German or other counterparts. We’re too often asked to make stereotypical Southern-style desserts, which, of course, are a very delicious art of their own. But for Juneteenth I thought I’d show a wider embrace of pastry by making macarons. These classically French cookies can be made in any color and flavor; I chose to incorporate black, red, yellow and green, the traditional Pan-African and Black Liberation colors, then flavored them with chocolate and filled them with a mango buttercream to make them irresistible.
For the macaron shells: Combine the egg whites, cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on medium speed until it’s foamy and triples in volume.
Meanwhile, sift together the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour, black cocoa powder and unsweetened cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Reduce the speed of the mixer and gradually add the remainder of the granulated sugar. Whip on medium speed until the mixture holds medium peaks, then add the black food color. Continue to whip until the meringue holds stiff peaks.
Place a medium round tip into a pastry bag. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
Remove the meringue from the mixer. In two additions, fold the sifted confectioners’ sugar mixture into the meringue with a rubber spatula. Make sure most of the dry ingredients are incorporated before adding the second half.
Once all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated, use the spatula to press the batter against the side of the bowl to remove air bubbles. The batter is ready when it will hold the track of a full figure eight made in the batter with the spatula.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pastry bag. Pipe rounds about the size of a silver dollar onto the prepared baking sheets. Make sure to leave at least 1 1/2 inches between each macaron.
Bang each sheet pan on the countertop at least 5 times to remove any air bubbles. Sprinkle each macaron with the sprinkles. Allow the macarons to sit at room temperature until dry to the touch, at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Bake the sheet pans of macarons one at a time on the middle rack of the oven until the shells puff and feel firm to the touch, 20 to 22 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through. Allow the macaron shells to cool completely on the pan.
For the mango Swiss buttercream: Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so it just simmers.
Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in a medium heat-safe bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar fully dissolves; make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of the mixer. Whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. Reduce the spread and gradually add the softened butter. Once all of the butter has been added, stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing on medium speed until the butter is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
Add the freeze-dried mango powder and lemon extract and mix until the buttercream is thick and silky, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Transfer the mango buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe a quarter-size mound of buttercream onto the flat side of one macaron shell and gently top with another macaron, making a sandwich cookie. Repeat with the remaining macaron shells.
It’s important that fresh room temperature egg whites be used in the macaron batter for best results.