First, read Sarah’s tips to know what the consistency of the macaron batter should be.
Preheat oven to 300° Fahrenheit.
Making the Macaron Batter
Sift together almond flour and powdered sugar with a fine mesh strainer. Sift a second time and set aside.
Whisk the egg whites and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment. Increase speed to medium (4 on a KitchenAid) and beat for 2 minutes. Increase speed again to medium-high (6 on a KitchenAid) and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Finally, increase the speed to high (8 on a KitchenAid) and beat for another 2 minutes. The egg whites should be very stiff and glossy, and clump together in the bowl. Beat in the gel food coloring and lemon essential oil (if using).
Remove bowl from mixer stand. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl in a single addition. Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the meringue using a figure-eight motion, cutting the flat side of the spatula through the center of the batter and pressing it against the side of the bowl. Repeat until the batter reaches the consistency of molten lava, about 40-43 strokes.
Piping the French Macaron Shells
Fill an extra-large pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch round piping tip with macaron batter. If you notice some unmixed dry ingredients in your bowl do not add them to the piping bag.
Pipe the macaron batter on to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If the parchment paper corners curl up, use a dab of macaron batter to ‘glue’ them down. To get consistent sizes, you can use a printable macaron guide under the parchment paper. Just be sure to remove the template before baking.
Pipe the batter into a 1 1/2-inch round, swirling the tip and lifting straight up at the end of each shell, spacing the macarons at least 1 1/2 inches apart. Bang the baking sheets firmly on the counter 2-3 times to release any air bubbles. If there is a peak on the shell you can use a toothpick to smooth it. Let rest for 20-30 minutes, until the macarons are dry to the touch and the batter doesn’t stick to your finger.
Baking the French Macaron Shells:
Bake one sheet at a time until they have risen, and the tops no longer jiggle from the feet. Check at 15 minutes and then check them at two-minute intervals until you can lift them from the parchment paper with your fingernail.
Use a thin spatula or offset spatula to lift from parchment paper to a wire rack. Let cool completely before filling.
How to Make Raspberry Macaron Filling:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the butter on high until pale and creamy, about 8 minutes.
Add the salt and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Add heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time.
Crush freeze-dried raspberries into fine dust in a food processor or in a plastic bag using a rolling pin. Strain out the seeds with a fine-mesh strainer. Add the sifted powder to buttercream and blend until smooth.
Make the Edible Gold Paint:
Mix a generous amount of luster dust with a small amount of vodka. Add more vodka a few drops at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
Assemble the French Macarons
Spoon the raspberry buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a small open hole piping tip.
Pipe the raspberry filling onto prepared french macaron shells. Leave 1/8″ open space from the sides of the shell.
Use a paintbrush to paint edible gold paint in heart shapes on to the macarons. Allow to dry. For more concentrated gold, dip the brush towards the edges of your bowl to squeeze out extra vodka.