I have wanted to join a macaron challenge at Mactweets for some time now and the theme this month is just perfect. Why you ask this month-well just on the heels of Easter all of the stores have had their Easter decorations at 50-75% off and so many times I have walked by the bins and spotted sad little bunnies in all the colors of the rainbow looking up at me-I wanted to take them all home with me. I'm well beyond the age of collecting stuffed animals but not beyond the age of remembering my favorites that are long gone. My absolute favorite was a little brown raggedy rabbit that I had with me at college. I don't remember much about the awkward 15 year old boy who gave him to me for my birthday but I remember everything about the rabbit. Whenever I was sad and needed someone to talk to he,the rabbit, not the boy was always there. Where he is now? The rabbit,not the boy, I'm sad to say I don't remember..hopefully he has met the same fate as the sweet little Velveteen Rabbit in my favorite childhood book by the same name.
You think I am mindlessly chattering now but I'm not, I really am getting to the point. The point being the May Mac Attack challenge is to create a macaron inspired by a beloved childhood book, an extract, a character, something from any book from your childhood. With that being said,and with melancholy memories of that rabbit and all of my secrets he took with him, and to honor my favorite book The Velveteen Rabbit, I am creating Carrot Cake Macarons with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting .
My little rabbit wherever you are I can only wish that you led a life of happiness in green grassy fields with fresh young carrots and many friends. Hmm,that's an appropriate wish for my friends to-many many days of happiness in green grassy fields,with blue skies,plenty of fresh young carrots to munch on and many friends who help make you real !
And thank you to Lara at Cook and Eat for inspiring me with her photos and recipe ! And a huge thanks to Helen Dujardin at My Tartelette for her amazing Macaron Tutorial .
Carrot Cake Macarons with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Helen Dujardin
3 large egg whites (90 grams)
1/4 cup Just Carrots dried carrot pieces (From Whole Foods or go to Just Tomatoes website)
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground mace
1 pinch ground ginger
200g powdered sugar
110g slivered almonds
a pinch of salt
25g caster or very fine granulated sugar
4oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 pinch salt
1 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
Place the freshly separated egg whites in a bowl, lightly covered with plastic wrap, and leave them overnight (or up to 4 days in the refrigerator). It is important to age the eggs before starting the cookies.
When the eggs have been aged, grind the carrot pieces to a fine powder in a spice (or clean coffee) grinder.
In a food processor, grind the almonds with the powdered sugar until it resembles coarse sand. Add the powdered carrot, cinnamon, mace (or nutmeg) and ginger and give a quick whir to mix. Set aside.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and beat for about 30 seconds until the whites are a bit broken. If you are measuring by weight, this is a good time to make sure you have 90 grams and adjust as needed. The egg whites are easier to work with when they’ve been beaten a touch. Toss in the small pinch of salt, and beat them to a foam. Then, start slowly adding the sugar letting “rain down” (as Helen says). Beat until the meringue is glossy and holds a peak, stopping and checking frequently to make sure you don’t over beat.
Add the sugar/almond mixture to the meringue and stir with a rubber spatula to combine, about 10 strokes. Then, start more gradually folding to slightly break down the meringue. Test the batter every few strokes. Drop a small dot of the batter on a plate. If the top flattens after a few seconds, it is ready. If it holds a peak, give it a few more strokes. If it spreads quickly, you’ve over folded.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip, and pipe small rounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet (I’ve had better luck with parchment than silplat, but some people like the silplat better). Preheat your oven to 280F. Let the macaron sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before putting them in the stove. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. If the interiors still seem wobbly (lightly touch the top with your finger and move back and forth to check), turn the oven off, but leave the cookies in while it cools. Then, remove the cookies from the oven, and let cool to room temperature before filling.
To make the filling, whisk the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup and salt together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time until you reach your preferred texture and sweetness. The shells are quite sweet, so the filling doesn’t need to be.
Spread a good sized dollop on one shell, and then top with a shell of a similar size and shape, giving it a little turn as you do. Place the cookies in an air tight container overnight, either at room temperature or in the fridge, for at least 12 hours before eating.
PS. These were quite the challenge. I went through 5 attempts and still my macaron tops are a little flat and the feet a little small. I think I will try these with Italian Meringue vs French the next time. Although after looking at the volcanoes and amaretti type results from the first 4 attempts I don't think these turned out too badly. Any advice on what I am doing wrong that is resulting in flat tops and little feet would be greatly appreciated.