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

THE LUCK OF THE IRISH

Hard to believe that in almost 12 years of blogging I’ve never made anything that celebrates St Patrick’s Day. But today I am correcting this huge mistake. Gingerbread, sugar cookies and macarons to bring you good luck and hopefully restore my reputation as a food blogger, particularly with the wonderful people from Ireland.

LUCK OF THE IRISH GINGERBREAD COOKIES

to print the recipe, from last year’s post, click here

I received the shamrock cookie cutter as a gift from a dear friend, and designed this set of cookies with her in mind. The jar cookie was inspired by a video tutorial from SweetAmbs that you can find here. I adapted for my skill level, because I still struggle a lot with fine lines. It is absolutely mandatory to include one four-leaf clover to ensure the best of luck.

GOLD BUTTON SUGAR COOKIE

Same cookie recipe, decoration also found in the video link I included above. Really a lot of fun to make it, although you do have to prepare the golden buttons the day before, they need to dry completely before you can paint them and glue to the iced cookie. If you watch Amber’s video you will see that she uses the base of any icing tip to draw circles on parchment paper, then pipe the button shape with white Royal icing, a little border after it has a chance to slightly crust, and that’s about it. Let it dry overnight, paint with gold luster + alcohol. It took me two attempts to get it right, or at least right enough to be able to use in my cookies…

It is a good idea to make more than you think you’ll need. You can always save it for later, these Royal icing decorations last forever and not every single one of them will be nicely round, at least not when I do them.

Moving on, a really easy but quite effective way to decorate a sugar cookie. For this one, I used my recent default recipe that gives super sharp edges and you can find here.

GOLD SHAMROCK SUGAR COOKIES

Really super easy! You start by drawing a shamrock shape in the center of a baked cookie. You can do a round cookie, square, or hexagon, anything will work. Then, paint a nice and bright gold layer right on the cookie’s surface. For this I like to use Egyptian Gold from Oh Sweet Art. It is the most aggressive (but still food-safe) gold paint out there, and in this case you need it to be bright. Then, simply flood with green Royal Icing and you are done.

This simple method has so much potential! You can paint all sorts of basic shapes using different colors, and flood it to suit the occasion.

Another nice way to decorate is using the marbling technique, in which you swirl colors over a reasonably loose powdered sugar icing, and dip the surface of the cookie over it. The method is carefully detailed on my friend Helen’s blog that you can find here.

Finally, I close the post with my beloved macarons. For this recipe, I used a template found over at Pies and Tacos, but used my default recipe for macarons, but dyed green. A little splash with gold luster, and the filling was a Mint Buttercream from my friend Caroline’s recent post.

SHAMROCK MACARONS BUTTERCREAM FILLING
(from Caro’s Easy Online Baking Lessons)

128g butter, melted
3/4 tsp vanilla
sprinkle of salt
187g powdered sugar, sifted
Peppermint Extract (1/8tsp at a time, to taste)

Melt the butter in a small cooking pot on the stove top on medium to high. Turn the heat down to low-medium heat, letting it simmer and remember to stir. The butter will hiss & pop. If browning reduce the heat again. Continue until silent and then strain through a sieve into a mixing bowl. There will be foamy fat residue sticking to the sides of the bowl and in the bottom of the sieve. Add in the salt. The mixture will sizzle again so be careful.

Add in the powdered sugar and mix by hand until all sugar is incorporated and a smooth paste is formed. This will only take a minute, so no need to get the mixer out again. Leave till it cools down. Now add in the peppermint extract. Place in a piping bag, no need for icing tip. Fill the macarons. Leave them in the fridge overnight for best texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I hope you enjoyed this small collection of goodies, and that we are all moving to better times, as vaccination picks up all over the world. I am ready for some luck coming our way, what about you?

ONE YEAR AGO: When life gives you Eye-of-the-Round

TWO YEARS AGO: Carrot Cake Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Soup Saturday: Say Goodbye to Winter

FOUR YEARS AGO: Manchego and Poblano Soup

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Smashing Pair

SIX YEARS AGO: Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Crispy Chickpea and Caper Spaghetti

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung!

NINE YEARS AGO: Chickpea and Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

TEN YEARS AGO: Double Asparagus Delight

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Cheese Torte



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:
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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