Saturday, July 6, 2013

Birthday Cake Macarons

Today is my older brother's birthday! He's always been picky with his sweets. By picky, I mean he only loves all things overly sweet and flavored like Costco's white sheet cakes. However, he does love when I make macarons. So what does a little sister do? She makes birthday cake flavored macarons!
 These little guys are filled with thick and creamy cake batter flavored frosting and dressed up with a cheerful mix of colored sprinkles. The combination of a delicate French macaron and a classic celebratory cake flavor is such a fun and interesting twist for a little sweet treat.
Birthday cake macarons are joining the celebration, ladies and gents...with their party hats and all!
 Birthday Cake Macarons
100 g aged egg whites (aged= resting in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-5 days)
1 tsp cream of tartar
28 g white granulated sugar
125 g finely ground almond meal (Bob's Red Mill makes a great one)
200 g powdered sugar*
1 tsp real vanilla extract
optional: 1-2 drops of ivory yellow food gel coloring (do not use liquid food coloring)

Prepare two baking sheets lined with silicone mats (or parchment paper if you don't have these).

1. Combine and whisk together the almond meal and powdered sugar. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on a low speed with the cream of tartar until the mixture becomes foamy (kind of like a bubble bath). At this point, slowly pour in the white granulated sugar as the mixer is running. Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium; continue to beat the mixture until a smooth glossy meringue with soft peaks has formed (kind of like shaving cream). Be careful to NOT over beat and dry out your egg whites. If you are coloring your macarons, add a few drops of the gel coloring a little bit before your egg whites have reached their soft and glossy peaks.

3. Remove the bowl from your stand mixer and add 1/3 of the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Gently fold together just until everything is combined. Repeat with the next 1/3 of the dry ingredients and again with the final 1/3.

4. Prepare a pastry bag with a medium round tip (about 1 cm) and transfer the macaron batter into it. Pipe small circles onto the prepared baking sheets to make neat rows. Be sure to leave about 1 1/2 inches between each macaron. Grab the ends of the baking sheet and, while holding it level, firmly tap it on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. Allow the macarons to rest on the counter for 30-60 minutes before baking.

5. Preheat the oven to 295 degrees F and make sure the racks are in the middle portion. Bake the macarons for 15-20 minutes, one sheet at a time. Do not open the oven door at all! Once they are finished, allow them to cool for a few minutes; Gently peel away the silicone mat while lightly pushing the macaron cookies off. Repeat with the remaining trays of macarons.*Note: Baking times may vary depending on your oven and the temperature/humidity in the room. These are very temperamental; I suggest testing a small batch to find your ideal baking time with your oven.

6. Once cooled, fill the macarons with the cake batter filling (recipe below). Pipe a small dollop onto the back side of one macaron shell and sandwiching it together with another. Repeat with the rest of the macarons. If not consuming right away, store them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge.

Cake Batter Buttercream
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup white cake mix
2 tsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional: additional powdered sugar

1. Cream the butter, white cake mix, heavy cream, and vanilla extract until smooth. If desired, add extra sugar to achieve desired sweetness. 

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