Easter Egg MacaronsMarch 25, 2016 By Cathy — 5 Comments
Move over chocolate bunnies, these sweet French macarons will be your new favorite Easter treat.
So here’s the deal. French macarons freak people out. Not the eating. It’s the whole folding, piping, resting and baking thing. There are a million theories, some valid, some probably not so. But the thing is, sometimes you just need to throw caution to the wind and try it for yourself.
I’ve baked a ton of French macarons over the years. Some perfectly shaped with flat, shiny surfaces and fluffy feet (those signature ruffled edges) and others that didn’t quite go as planned. But each time I’ve made them, I’ve learned something. One of the most important lessons is that they’re not as fussy as many recipes lead you to believe. In fact, some of my particularly gorgeous batches have been the ones where I skipped those “necessary steps” like aging the egg whites or letting the piped shells sit on the counter for an hour before baking.
I find the most important step to be in the folding, or rather, not over-folding. A runny batter leads to nothing but problems. The right piping texture should resemble thick lava that will spread a bit after it’s piped, but not be runny or drippy.
Another key to success is consistency. I use a cookie cutter to trace the shape I’m piping onto the parchment paper. Then after I pipe the rounds I tap the tray once or twice on the counter to release any air bubbles. These two steps will help to ensure that your macaron shells will bake evenly and the top and bottoms will match up after they’ve been filled.
Okay, so those are a couple of my “must dos”. Here are a few of my “nah, just skip its”:
- Skip aging the the egg whites. I’ve come home from the store with a fresh dozen eggs and baked a successful batch with them straight away. Fluffy feet and all.
- Many recipes call for resting the piped macarons on the counter before baking. It certainly doesn’t hurt, but again, I’ve found that it’s not necessary for success. I discovered this by accident once when I was running short on time. I used to rest mine on the counter for at least 15 minutes before baking, but when I was pressed for time I just piped them and popped them into the oven. Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference. So now I just skip the resting and go right to baking.
- There are also plenty of theories about oven temperature. Some recipes require starting with a higher temperature, then lowering it when you place the baking sheet in the oven. Other recipes say not a hair above 300 degrees. I’ve found success with an oven temp of 325 degrees. If your oven runs hot, then maybe lower it a bit. But 325 has worked for me and if it ain’t broke…
So I’ve filled your head with all kinds of macaron craziness today and these rules apply to all flavors, shapes and sizes. Even these sweet little Easter egg macarons. I piped these into egg shapes and filled them with a creamy vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. I made my favorite royal icing recipe and using a #1 tip, piped some festive decorations on top. You can skip this step and add a sprinkle to the unbaked shells for an easy decoration, or just leave them plain. Either way these delicate, sweet little cookies will be a welcome treat for Easter.
- 1¾ cups confectioners sugar
- 1⅓ cups almond flour (I like Bob's Red Mill) or ground almonds
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ cup superfine sugar
- *gel food coloring if desired
- **piping bag fitted with a #806 Ateco tip or equivalent
- Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 5 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 14 oz unsalted butter, softened
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Macarons: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment and trace 1½ inch - 2 inch egg shapes onto the parchment as a guide for piping. Flip the parchment over before piping.
- Combine almond flour, confectioners sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and blend until completely combined, 1-2 mins.
- Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form.
- Add superfine sugar and beat on high speed until meringue is glossy and (very!) stiff peaks form.
- Fold almond flour mixture into meringue - I find about 50 strokes to be the magic number. The batter should be the consistency of lava.
- As you are folding, you can add a drop of food coloring if desired.
- Fill the piping bag with the batter and pipe egg shapes within the lines that you traced. The batter will spread a bit, so don't overfill.
- Tap the baking sheet once of twice on the counter to release any air bubbles and with a slightly moistened finger, gently pat down any points on the surface of the shells.
- Bake one tray at a time for 10-12 mins until shells are set but not browned.
- Let cool for a few minutes on baking sheet, before carefully removing to a wire rack to cool.
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Combine sugar and eggs whites in the bowl of your electric mixer or a large metal bowl.
- Place over a pan of simmering water and cook, whisking frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved and isn't grainy when you rub it between two fingers.
- Remove from heat and using your electric mixer, beat on high with the whisk attachment until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7-8 minutes.
- Add the butter, piece by piece, and mix until incorporated.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and add the scraped vanilla bean seeds and extract. Continue beating until light, smooth and completely homogenized.
- Macarons: Using a pastry bag, pipe 1½ - 2 tsps of filling on to half of the shells. Place an empty shell on top of the filling and press lightly so filling spreads to the edge, taking care not to crack the shell.
- *Optional* Pipe decorations with thick, piping consistency royal icing and allow to dry until icing is hardened.
- Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.