The week before a holiday weekend always seems to drag on ever so slowly. We’ve finally had a full week’s worth of actual spring-like weather, and I think everyone’s just itching to get out and enjoy the sunshine. I’ve made it a point to walk home for lunch everyday, both for the exercise as well as the Vitamin D boost–Both of which I desperately need. I also got it into my head that I needed to try my hand at macarons once again (thanks, Pinterest), so I made some Maple Macarons.
At first glance, they don’t look too bad, do they? I made it a point to sift and grind the almond flour/confectioners’ sugar multiple times, so I could get the smooth shells. I also made a cinnamon cream cheese filling for them, and combined with the maple flavor, it’s delicious. Maple stuff still reminds me of fall, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy these year-round.
But back to the cookies…If you look closely, you’ll notice that they don’t quite have feet, so much as they’re cracked along the bottom.
It could be due to a number of things. My oven was too hot. My egg whites weren’t aged. I didn’t double my baking sheets. Who knows?
They still taste good!
Macarons will still taste pretty good, even if they don’t look so hot. These, I’m happy with, even if the “feet” aren’t quite perfect. For one, the shells aren’t hollow this time. And they’re actually smooth, which is something I’ve been a little hit or miss with.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine the almond meal and powdered sugar in a food processor. Blend for 1-2 minutes, then sift. Blend a second time in the food processor, and sift again.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and the granulated sugar. Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Increase to medium-high speed, and beat for 2-3 minutes. Beat on high for 2 minutes. At this point, the meringue should hold stiff, glossy peaks. At this time, add the maple and vanilla extracts, and whip on high speed for 30 seconds.
Begin folding in the almond meal mixture, scraping up from the bottom, and pressing the mixture against the side of the bowl to deflate the meringue. Continue folding until the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated and the batter resembles molten lava (to test, take a clean spoon, and drop some of the batter back into the bowl--If it slowly folds back into itself but still maintains most of its shape, it's ready).
Place the batter in a piping bag fitted with a 3/4-inch round tip (I used an Ateco #804), and pipe rounds about 1-inch in diameter on the prepared baking sheets. Once the shells have been piped, take each baking sheet and rap several times flat against the counter, to pop any air bubbles. Allow to rest for 30-45 minutes, until the shells are no longer shiny and will not stick to your fingers when touched. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F while the shells are resting.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Cool completely before removing the shells from the parchment.
To make the filling, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat on medium-high speed until well-combined and light. Add the vanilla extract and cinnamon. Drop the speed to low, and slowly add the powdered sugar. Add in the milk, if necessary to get to desired consistency. Spread about half a Tbsp. of filling between two macaron shells.
Place the filled macarons in an airtight container, and refrigerate at least 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.
I have to admit, I really kind of like how challenging macarons are…Already I have more egg whites aging in the fridge, so at some point this weekend, I’m going to try again! In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the last of the Maple Macarons!