Am I the only person that thinks that Christmas snuck upon us this year? I feel like I was waiting forever for Thanksgiving and then BAM! Christmas is right around the corner. (Did anyone else think of this Friends’ scene when they read BAM?) I’ve been dreaming of these macarons since December started and I finally had a chance to bake them earlier this week.
Is it cold where you live? It’s been freezing in NJ and I am not used to working in a cooler kitchen. The weather must’ve been super dry because my macaron shells set before I was able to place my sprinkles, hence the little cracks in the shell where I tried to force each sprinkle in with a pair of tweezers (kitchen-use-only-tweezers). I have to admit I was getting quite frustrated with making them and then this happened:
Here are my attempts at his mug shots.
The thing is, Bear, my cat loves to watch me bake and prep food on the kitchen table. He demands to sit on his own chair and Petey (my other cat) was occupying Bear’s usual space. Fed up with watching from the floor, he decided to get up close and onto the table where the trays of macarons were drying. If you don’t know already, macaron batter is sticky and it took forever to get the green goo out of his tiny paws. Not to mention the trail of green batter on the floor he left when he ran away from me.
Despite my frustrations making this particular recipe, I think the macarons would make a cute addition to any cookie platter and add a bit of holiday flair. You can also change up the look of the macaron with different sprinkles. Just make sure you put them on before the shells dry out. If you don’t, they’ll just bounce off like hail on cement pavement.
Christmas Wreath Macarons
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
green gel food color
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
- Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear. Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
- In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
- Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
- Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
- Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks. Add two drops of the green gel food color and mix until batter turns a bright shade of green.
- Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty. From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”. The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
- With a pastry bag fitted with a ¼ in. plain tip, pipe a ring of macaron batter leaving the hole in the center as wide as possible. (If you do not, it will close up when the macaron bakes.)
- Before the batter dries, place your sprinkles in the desired area.
- The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F. If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚, if not then 325˚.
- Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth. The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
- Let cool and fill.
Basic Vanilla Frosting
2 c. whole milk
½ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
- Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
- Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
- In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
- Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
*Basic macarons adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel.