OVER THE MOON BLUEBERRY-LEMON MACARONS

Today my original plan was to share a series of macarons with different styles of decoration. But, I am so over the moon with these, they elbowed every macaron in the waiting line and here they are. Alone in all their golden glory.

OVER THE MOON BLUEBERRY-LEMON MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

For the shells:
200g powdered sugar  
115 g almond flour  
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar (optional)
100 g granulated sugar  
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
blue and black food gel color (I used Sugarflair and Americolor)
Egyptian gold luster powder
everclear

For filling:
60 g unsalted butter softened 
160 g powdered sugar
1 tablespoon blueberry jam
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp lemon oil
pinch of salt
heavy cream if needed to adjust consistency

Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and ground almonds/almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. Add all the sugar at once and keep whisking until the meringue is soft and shiny. Add vanilla and food colors.

Whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the ground almond/almond meal mixture in two increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (round, ¼ or ½ inch in diameter or 6 – 12 mm). Pipe shells, I like to count numbers in my head and use the same count for each shell so they end up similar in size. If making snowmen, make a template with two circles joined together to form head and body, and pipe each section. 

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter/worktop. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes. When they form a skin, use a very small fondant baller tool to draw a moon.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. The macarons should release without sticking. Mix the golden luster dust with everclear and paint the dimpled region. Flick some of the suspension to get a few golden dots on the smooth part of the shells.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the other ingredients except the heavy cream, and whisk until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a bit of heavy cream to loosen the mixture.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge. Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

ENJOY!


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I recently saw macarons on Instagram with this dimpled effect but absolutely no mention of the technique used. I realized it was similar to what I’ve done with sugar cookies before, so I played with it a bit. At first I thought that I should bake the shells and make the dimples while they were warm. Don’t even try it, it just cracks in a pathetic way. Could be a nice effect too, depending on how you manage to create cracks, but definitely not what I was hoping for. So what you do is allow the skin to form, and right before you bake the shells, very delicately press the surface with the smallest fondant baller tool you can find (mine is the smallest from this set). You can also use the handle of a small painting brush. Bake as you would normally do, then paint the dimpled region with gold luster powder. I used Egyptian gold which is the brightest kind.

Fling some extra gold with a brush over the surface, and that’s about it. The recipe was my default, but I changed one important step: instead of adding the granulated sugar in stages, I dumped the whole amount after the egg whites were starting to leave traces as the whisk moved through them, maybe 1 to 2 minutes after starting the Kitchen Aid. The meringue will take slightly longer to firm, but what that does is give a better chance for the sugar to fully dissolve. You would not do that if making an Angel Food Cake that requires a very light and airy meringue, but for macarons it works like a charm. You can read the rationale behind it in this article. Interestingly, this method is the one favored by JC Gregg, The Macaron King, former contestant of the Great American Baking Show, season 3. I really like how much simpler it is, and how it improves the shells. Particularly the base, there are no crystals making the surface rough, or the shell threatening to glue to the silpat. Smooth like a mirror, as you can see in my composite photo above. I am sold.

It still amazes me that you can totally mess up the surface of a macaron and have it bake as if nothing happened. The possibilities of decoration are mind-blowing, so if you are into baking macarons, consider trying this method. Way too cool for words, don’t you agree?

Some shells baked without the dimpled effect were decorated with a stencil. Silver stars to go along with the golden moon…

ONE YEAR AGO: Springtime Macarons Bake-Along

TWO YEARS AGO: Macarons for a Little Princess

THREE YEARS AGO: Gilding the Sourdough Loaf

FOUR YEARS AGO: Lolita Joins the Bewitching Kitchen

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cashew Cream Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake

NINE YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto

TEN YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle

NUT-FREE LADY GREY MACARONS

Nut allergies. They prevent a human being from enjoying one of the most beloved cookies in the known universe. Such cruel fate. But this recipe uses sunflower seeds instead of almonds and I can tell you the outcome is quite amazing. The batter is slightly more grainy, but the macs baked with very nice feet and good texture. Please use caster sugar (super fine). It does make a difference, particularly in this version.

NUT-FREE LADY GREY MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

For the shells:
200g powdered sugar
115 g sunflower seed meal (or finely ground sunflower seeds)
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar (optional)
100 g caster sugar (or regular sugar made finer in a food processor)
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
Americolor food gel Super Black
Americolor food gel Fog
Americolor food gel Tulip Red
Royal Icing, thick consistency

for filling:
1/4 cup butter
170g powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 bag Lady Grey tea
chai extract (optional, I used Olive Nation)

Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and sunflower seed meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment/baking paper. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar in five additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the vanilla. Whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the sunflower seed mixture in two increments. When the mixture is more or less homogeneous (but before you smash it to deflate it), separate a very small amount of batter into a bowl and add black food gel to it. Proceed to fully mix it (macaronage step), and place it in a small piping bag, no need to use icing tip. Reserve. Go back to the main mixture and add a few drops of fog gel color to it. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (round, ¼ or ½ inch in diameter or 6 – 12 mm). Pipe shells, I like to count numbers in my head and use the same count for each shell so they end up similar in size. After piping 5 or 6 shells, get the piping bag containing the black batter and make a cut. Pipe dots all over the shells.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter/worktop. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. The macarons should release without sticking.

Make the filling: Infuse the milk with the bag of tea for 15 min. Remove the bag, squeezing it well to release all the tea flavor into the milk. Let it cool. Whisk the room temperature butter with a handheld mixer until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of infused milk (you won’t need it all) and chai extract (if using). Whisk for a couple of minutes. Adjust consistency with more infused milk or powdered sugar, if needed.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge. Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

To decorate: pipe hearts with Royal icing dyed red. Use a black food pen to smooth the edges of the black dots, if needed, and a red pen to draw the edge of the heart (optional).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I’ve made macarons last Summer using a little bit of sunflower seed for flavor, but this time I replaced the full amount of almond flour with sunflower seed meal (I used this product instead of grinding the seeds myself). The batter was slightly harder to mix (the macaronage stage), and had a slightly denser structure, but I was surprised by how tall the feet were during baking (they always deflate a bit as they cool).

A few words on the decoration. Because the batter turned out a bit on the thick side, the dots I made with black batter were not perfectly round, and many ended up with ragged edges. So I smoothed things out with a black food pen after baking, which I also used to make the little dots all over. The heart was piped with Royal Icing, thick consistency (like you would use for transfers), because it gives the hearts a plump look that I find pretty attractive. I also used a red food pen to trace the edge, but that step can be omitted, I don’t think it added that much to the whole design.

I really enjoyed the flavor of the tea-chai-buttercream. If you brew the tea strong enough, it will have enough flavor but using chai extract is definitely a nice touch. I love Olive Nation products, and was searching for an opportunity to put my chai extract to use. This basic decoration design will come back in the future. Different colors, piping different shapes, I have a few ideas brewing. Or, should I say… macaroning?

ONE YEAR AGO: Mini-Heart Cakes for your Valentine

TWO YEARS AGO: Blue Moon Milk

THREE YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooked Chicken Meatballs

FOUR YEARS AGO: Zesty Flourless Chocolate Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Maple Pumpkin Pecan Snacking Cake

SIX YEARS AGOSilky Gingered Zucchini Soup

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sweet Fifteen!

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flaxseed Sourdough

NINE YEARS AGO: Green Beans with Miso and Almonds

TEN YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: White Bread

BEE HAPPY HONEY MACARONS

The year ended with macarons, the new year starts with them. French macarons launched me on the path of baking, so they will always have a very special place in my heart. But if you are a reader of my blog, you know that already. I wanted my first macarons of 2021 to be happy and uplifting. And sweet. Sweet as honey. Like life should be.

MANUKA HONEY & MASCARPONE MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, decoration inspired by Sugar and Cloth)

For the shells:
200g Icing/powdered sugar  
115 g almond flour  
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar (optional)
100 g granulated sugar  
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
gold or yellow food gel color (I used gold from Sunny Side Up Bakery)

For filling:
30 g unsalted butter softened
60 g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp manuka honey (or another intense honey)
185 g powdered sugar
1/8 tsp lime oil or extract

Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered/icing sugar and ground almonds/almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment/baking paper. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar in five additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff). Add the vanilla and food colors. Whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the ground almond/almond meal mixture in two increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (round, ¼ or ½ inch in diameter or 6 – 12 mm). If you don’t have a macaron mat, draw circles on baking/parchment paper about 2inches/5cm in diameter & turn the paper over before placing on the baking sheets. Pipe shells, I like to count numbers in my head and use the same count for each shell so they end up similar in size. If making snowmen, make a template with two circles joined together to form head and body, and pipe each section. 

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter/worktop. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. The macarons should release without sticking.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter and mascarpone cheese until creamy. Add the honey and lemon extract, whisk a minute longer. Add the powdered sugar, whisk in low-speed at first, the increase speed and whisk until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a very small amount of milk or heavy cream.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge. Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

Decorate with Royal icing bees if desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I must confess something. The filling was going to be slightly different: I wanted to make a buttercream or ganache with burnt honey. Recently one of my tent-baking friends made a cake and used it for the filling. Apparently the flavor is just amazing. But I got lazy. So I decided to part with a tablespoon of my Manuka honey because its flavor is so intense, it could (maybe) compensate for my laziness. And it really did. I love the way these macs turned out. The lemon extract cuts a bit through the sweetness, so don’t omit it.

The decoration requires a little time but is pretty simple. You will need a very small amount of Royal Icing dyed yellow-orange. Pipe small cylinders where you want each little bee to be (ooops, sorry about that). Let it set. Next, make the little dots to represent their flying path with a fine tip food pen. Use the same pen to draw antennas and wings. Please note that the antennas should go opposite to the end of the flying path (after a few bees it is easy to make a mistake). To make the black lines on the body, it is best to use a marker with a soft tip (like these), but if you don’t have one, let the bodies set for at least 4 hours and then go gently with a regular food pen. The surface is obviously very fragile. I am truly in love with these babies!

So there you have it, my first batch of macarons for the year 2021:

BEE HAPPY!

ONE YEAR AGO: Episode 7 of Great American Baking Show, Canapes, Opera Cake and Running out of Gas

TWO YEARS AGO: Raspberry Ganache Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Pain au Chocolat

FOUR YEARS AGO: Two Unusual Takes on Roasted Veggies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Kadoo Boranee: Butternut Squash Perfection

SIX YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli Soup with Toasted Almonds

SEVEN YEARS AGO:
 Fennel and Cheddar Cheese Crackers

EIGHT YEARS AGO: A Festive Pomegranate Dessert

NINE YEARS AGO: My First Award!

TEN YEARS AGO: A Message from WordPress

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Turkish Chicken Kebabs

FESTIVE MACARONS TO WELCOME 2021

That Sally? She’s all about cauliflower and macarons. Hopeless. Since my reputation is already in shambles, I will share yet another recipe for macarons designed to kick a Poltergeist-ish year into the past and embrace 2021 as a light in the end of a very dark tunnel. Vaccines in sight, we just need to hang in there and keep doing all we can to avoid the virus while it still lingers unchecked out there. A single recipe, a single filling, and two designs. A dressed-up version to enjoy at at New Year’s Eve, and a playful take perfect pretty much anytime in January.

REVEILLON MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

For the shells:
200g Icing/powdered sugar
115 g almond flour
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar (optional)
100 g granulated sugar
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
white food gel color
toothpick drop of purple gel color

For filling:
160g powdered sugar  
57g unsalted butter, softened (4 tablespoons)  
1/2 to 1 teaspoon peppermint extract  (depends on your taste and the extract you are using)
pinch of salt 
heavy cream or milk to adjust consistency, if needed

Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered/icing sugar and ground almonds/almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment/baking paper. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar in five additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff). Add the vanilla and food colors. Whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the ground almond/almond meal mixture in two increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (round, ¼ or ½ inch in diameter or 6 – 12 mm). If you don’t have a macaron mat, draw circles on baking/parchment paper about 2inches/5cm in diameter & turn the paper over before placing on the baking sheets. Pipe shells, I like to count numbers in my head and use the same count for each shell so they end up similar in size. If making snowmen, make a template with two circles joined together to form head and body, and pipe each section.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter/worktop. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F (150 C/130C Fan oven/Gas Mark 2). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. The macarons should release without sticking.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, peppermint extract and salt. Whisk in low-speed at first, the increase speed and whisk until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a very small amount of milk or heavy cream. Pipe the filling in shells, close them, and leave in fridge overnight to mature. 

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge. Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

Decorate with Royal icing and sprinkles, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For the dressed-up version, I added white Royal icing to make abstract swirls, and immediately sprayed the shells with Diamond Dust, a product I will feature very soon in my next In My Kitchen post. Love it.

For the playful version, I piped the shells as two circles, baked them, and decorated the shells with Royal icing dyed orange and green, leftover from sugar cookies projects. The details of eyes, mouth, and buttons were made with a very fine tip edible marker. I am still not confident enough to pipe extremely fine lines with Royal icing, need more practice to get to that point.

Making white shells is a bit of a challenge, they tend to get some color in the oven in the final stages of baking. To help things a bit, you can add a tiny amount of purple food gel, that counteracts the yellow tone as it bakes. But you might get a little bit of browning anyway. That’s where the Diamond dust comes nicely into play. That stuff is amazing.

ONE YEAR AGO: Episode 6, Cookies in The Great American Baking Show

TWO YEARS AGO: Brazilian Chicken and Heart of Palm Pie

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Tahini Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Complicit Conspiracy of Alcohol

FIVE YEARS AGO: Candy Cane Cookies

SIX YEARS AGO: Macarons: Much better with a friend

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Our Mexican Holiday Dinner 

EIGHT YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Cranberry Sauce

NINE YEARS AGO: Edamame Dip

TEN YEARS AGO: Gougeres

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night

COOKIES FOR THE HOLIDAYS: MACARONS

I admit that macarons per se might not be firmly associated with the holiday season, but one of the things I love about them is their versatility. Like fantastic actors, they can play any part, as long as you dress them properly. Today I share six versions with a festive winter aura.

BASIC MACARON RECIPE CAN BE FOUND IN THIS POST

YIN & YANG PEPPERMINT MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe from basic method, divided in two

For filling:
160g powdered sugar
57g unsalted butter, softened (4 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
pinch of salt
heavy cream or milk to adjust consistency, if needed

When your macaron batter is starting to get homogeneous, divide it in two portions, dye one green and one red, and proceed to the end of macaronage. Place each batter in a separate piping bag, and then cut the tips and side them side by side into another bag (if you have two sizes, it is a good idea to use two smaller bags inside the larger one, but it is totally doable with bags of the same size).

Pipe shells and bake as specified in the recipe.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, peppermint extract and salt. Whisk in low-speed at first, the increase speed and whisk until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a very small amount of milk or heavy cream.

Pipe the filling in shells, close them, and leave in fridge overnight to mature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The amount of peppermint extract to use will depend on the brand you use, how strong it is, and of course, your personal taste. Next time I make them, I will include some crushed peppermint candy. I did not have any around at the time, and we are pretty strict with our rules. Grocery store twice a week, with a list in hand, in and out quickly. So I really did not want to break the rules to go get the candy. Instead, the macs were kept simple. As to the yin-yang design, you do need the batters in two separate bags, otherwise they mix too much during piping. The effect is also nice, but will be less dramatic.

CARDAMON-GANACHE MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe from basic method

for the filling:
100g heavy cream
100g milk chocolate
4 cardamon pods
10g butter)

Make the macaron batter dyed with a dark caramel color (I used Progel Chestnut). When shells are cold, decorate with air-brush using gold color and any stencil you like.

For the filling, heat the cream with cardamon pods, crushed. When almost boiling, close the pan and let it sit for 30 minutes. Pass the cream through a sieve to remove the cardamon, weigh the cream, adjust back to 100g, and heat to almost boiling then pour over the chocolate cut in small pieces. Let it sit for 5 minutes then whisk gently to dissolve the chocolate. Add the softened butter and whisk until smooth.

Let the ganache sit at room temperature until it reaches a consistency appropriate for piping. You can also whip the ganache if you like it to have more body, but don’t overdo it or it might get grainy.

Fill shells and let the macarons sit in the fridge overnight before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I adore cardamon, and made this ganache twice already. On my second time I added ground cardamon together with the pods, and used them to fill shortbread-type cookies. It was very very good.

SNOWFLAKE BLACK WALNUT MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe from basic method

for the filling:
4 ounces cream cheese (half a regular package), softened
57g butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon black walnut extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
pinch of salt
225 g powdered sugar
1/4 cup ground Black Walnuts, lightly toasted

Add the cream cheese, butter and black walnut extract to a bowl and beat until very smooth with an electric hand-held mixer. Add cinnamon, cloves, and pinch of salt, then slowly add powdered sugar,  whisk until smooth and fluffy. Fold in the black walnuts.

Fill the shells. If desired, decorate the top with royal icing to make patterns of snowflakes, or any other pattern you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Snowflakes are everywhere in cookie decoration these days, and of course, it’s the perfect time of the year to showcase them. They are easy to draw, just 4 straight lines criss-crossed, and then go crazy with the little details. I’ve been practicing with tip-less bags, but for these drawings I found it easier to couple the bag with a very fine tip, number 1 from Wilton.

But you can also do other styles of piping like this little rosette. Just mark the center, 8 points around it, take a deep breath and pipe!

The black walnut filling was featured in the blog back in July, but this time I added cinnamon and cloves, inspired by Phil’s family recipe for “Cottage Cookies” which I must make to share with you at some point. In fact, he was surprised that it is not yet in the blog.

ORANGE AND CRANBERRY MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe from basic method

For filling:
160g powdered sugar
57g unsalted butter, softened (4 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon orange extract extract
zest of half a large orange
pinch of salt
heavy cream or milk to adjust consistency, if needed
cranberry relish or jam (I used store-bought)

Make the macarons using orange gel food color.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, orange extract, zest and salt. Whisk in low-speed at first, the increase speed and whisk until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a very small amount of milk or heavy cream.

Fill shells with a small dollop of cranberry jam in the center, surround it with a circle of orange buttercream. Decorate with Royal icing or air brushing, if so desired.

Leave macarons in fridge overnight to mature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

For these macarons, I used two different styles of decoration, one with Royal icing concentric swirl, and another in which I sprayed the two sides of the shells with coral and orange dyes, trying to mimic the colors associated with the two flavors. Some candy melt drizzle and sprinkles for good measure…

I loved this combination of flavors, cranberry and orange is a real classic, so I highly recommend you try this one.

EGGNOG MACARONS
(filling from The Jam Lab)

1 recipe from basic method

For the filling:
4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons rum extract (or rum if you don’t mind the alcohol)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 ½ cups to 4 cups powdered sugar

Make macaron shells and dye with green gel color.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, salt, spices and flavoring. Whisk in low-speed at first, the increase speed and whisk until creamy and smooth. Add heavy cream until the consistency is right for piping. Assemble shells with the filling, if desired you can air-brush with gold details using a stencil.

Keep the macarons in the fridge overnight before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Most recipes that call for eggnog use “the real thing” added to buttercream. We don’t drink eggnog, so I did not want to buy a big carton that would sit in the fridge. This recipe from JamLab is perfect. I used rum extract because my macarons are donated and alcohol is not allowed. If you want to do as I did, I recommend this extract.

GINGERBREAD MACARONS
(filling from Pies and Tacos)

for the filling:
160g powdered sugar
57g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
milk or heavy cream if needed

Make the shells and use a caramel food dye to color the batter.

For the filling, cream butter using a hand-held electric mixer until very creamy. Add the sugar, spices and flavoring, keep whisking at low-speed at first, then increase the speed. If needed, adjust consistency with heavy cream or milk.

Pipe filling on shells, and decorate with a band of gold luster. Stick little gingerbread-shaped sprinkles using small dots of royal icing. Leave macarons in the fridge overnight before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I loved the flavor of this filling. As to the decoration, I quickly realized that even if the gingerbread men looked quite cute on the shell, glueing them did not bring me joy. They are so delicate, and it was quite labor-intensive to adjust them with tweezers on top of the icing. I made a few and then switched to plan B. There is a limit to my Zen.

Of all the macarons from this post, the one that got the highest praise was…… drum roll…. drum roll….. the EGGNOG! I was surprised by how many of the testers said it was maybe the best ever from all the ones I’ve shared over the past few months.

I hope you enjoyed this series, featuring one of the concoctions I love to bake the most… Stay tuned for the final post on Holiday Cookies, in which I’ll feature Springerle.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Great American Baking Show

TWO YEARS AGO: Broccoli Souffle

THREE YEARS AGO: Panettone Time!

FOUR YEARS AGO: How the Mighty Have Fallen

FIVE YEARS AGO: Festive Night at Central

SIX YEAR AGO: The Perfect Boiled Egg

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Light Rye Sourdough with Cumin and Orange

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Homemade Calzones

NINE YEARS AGO: Plum-Glazed Duck Breasts

TEN YEARS AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: New York Deli Rye