Have you ever seen a more lighthearted macaron?
Lighthearted might be an odd descriptor for a pastry, but most of the time macarons–notoriously fussy and VERY French— have a habit of occupying only the most very sophisticated flavors. Delicious– but sophisticated. Salted caramel, lavender, hibiscus and honey, matcha! Don’t get me wrong, I love a fancy flavor. Unique combinations, toying with savory/salty/sweet combos is not something I shy from– but not today! No friends, today is all about sprinkles.
Funfetti screams 8-year-old birthday parties! It is a tiny reminder of Springtime and Easter and pastel everywhere you look.
As with most adventurous home bakers, I have a history with macarons that ranges from extreme frustration to absolute adoration. These adorable elevated Oreos are possibly the most debated pastry on the internet. French or Italian method? How many grams of almond flour to powdered sugar? Why do we have to measure it in grams? Hot oven? Cool oven? Dry them out? Don’t dry them out. I’ve tried just about every method in my quest for consistency.
Unfortunately, even if you catch some macaron consistency, there’s always disaster lurking around the corner. It’s a humid day and the shells don’t dry out enough– or you didn’t fold the almond flour into the batter in just the right way. Unfortunately I’m just adding my two cents into the already crowded internet pool of Macaron Tips. Macarons are unlike any other recipe I’ve ever tried– because literally everyone’s experience will be different, and everyone’s eventual method is seemingly custom made for their kitchen. One time I even brought ALL of my supplies to a friend’s house to make them there as a little “workshop” of sorts– and not sure if it was her gas oven to my electric, or the elevation of her house (in my same neighborhood…) or what– but we had more failures than successes. Luckily even if they look terrible– they usually still taste great.
My suggestion for those starting out with macarons is this: go simple. Make a plain almond shell a few times before you dive into incorporating ground up herbs and tea into the mix. A lot of people are inspired to make a macaron after a life-changing dessert experience so they go BIG right off the bat. My first macaron? Meyer Lemon with a Swiss meringue butter cream with a tiny dollop of homemade lemon curd in the middle. I spent hours on the shells, which fell flat and had no “feet,”and then made a fussy Swiss meringue frosting AND homemade lemon curd. Was it a learning experience? YES. Was it a waste of time for my first go at Macaron making? Absolutely.
Remember that in macarons, the filling is where the flavor should reside. Put your creativity and effort into making a dry salted caramel on the stove, filling it with homemade preserves or a delicious flavorful buttercream if you want to impress.
These Funfetti Macarons are not only colorful and playful– but deep down they are pretty basic. A plain almond shell with some nonpareils mixed in, and then sprinkled on top after piping. The filling is a super easy American buttercream with some artificial vanilla flavor (Funfetti doesn’t exactly scream artisanal…) and more sprinkles stirred in. They’re fun, they’re lighthearted, they’re delicious. You might even inadvertently start humming “Happy Birthday” while you are filling them!
My recipe and methods as stated in the above brief history of “Macarons & Reba: A Love Story” comes from a variety of bloggers/chefs/authors–along with a few years of making them on my own– but most of the inspiration came from Love & Olive Oil’s post about macarons from a few years ago. I had the most success with their recipe so I’ve tweaked the method for my own success.
Depending on success rate, about 24 filled macarons | Recipe inspiration from Love & Olive Oil
85 grams almond flour (I use Bobs Red Mill Almond Flour)
150 grams powdered sugar
90 grams egg whites (from about 3 large eggs), room temperature (no need to age* them)
55 grams superfine sugar (found in the baking aisle, if you can’t find it– you can always put regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender and run on high for ~30 seconds until the consistency is very fine)
1 Tbsp nonpareil sprinkles
*aging egg whites, which some people swear by, is the process of separating and then leaving egg whites out at room temperature for a day or two. It’s said that this will decrease the water in the egg whites, but leave the proteins–rendering whipping easier and proving better results. I’ve done aged, un-aged, local, organic, plain ol white. Same results.
For Funfetti Buttercream:
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter- room temperature
1.5 C Powdered Sugar
2 tsp nonpareil sprinkles
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp imitation vanilla extract (clear)
1 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
Tip: For increased macaron success– please take the time and weigh/measure out all of your ingredients and have them organized and ready to go before you start mixing. While this is a good tip for any cooking, for this it’s especially helpful the first few times you make them as you are getting your bearings around the recipe.
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine almond flour and powdered sugar. Run the food processor for ~30 seconds until the sugar and flour are nicely combined. Sift through a fine mesh strainer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Place room temperature egg whites into a stainless steel mixing bowl (I don’t use my stand mixer for this, I think it’s a little easier to just bust out the hand mixer). Turn the beaters to medium speed and whip until bubbles start appearing and it becomes frothy and opaque. Slowly sprinkle in the superfine sugar to incorporate into the egg whites. Turn your beaters to high and whip until you get medium stiff peaks and the meringue is niiiiice and shiny. If you would like to add color to the shells now is the time!
Once the meringue is ready, take your bowl with the almond flour/sugar mixture and add half to the meringue. Fold and scrape the mixture with a rubber spatula until the flour is incorporated, then add the rest. Add the spinkles. Continue scraping the bowl and folding the mixture until the batter falls off the spatula in thick ribbons* (yes, this is an insane description, but it’s everywhere and truly is the best way to describe it). The mixture should settle into itself in a few seconds after falling off the spatula. Do not overmix.
*this is a great time to Youtube someone making macarons so you can see for yourself exactly how the batter is supposed to look!
Once your batter is nice and ribbony, prep your piping bag. I like to shove mine into a large plastic tumbler, and pull the edges of the bag around the outside like a teeny trash bag. Pour the batter into the cup, and once it’s done, pull up on the bag to let the batter fall to the bottom. At this point you can fit the piping bag with a tip if you want– but I am a big fan of the Wilton 16″ Disposable Decorating Bags and then I just cut the tip off the bottom of the bag.
Once your batter is ready to roll, twist one end of the pastry bag and hover over your prepared baking sheets. Keeping the bag straight up and down, pipe even circles into rows with the batter spaced about 1 inch apart. For evenness I like to count in my head “one, two” while I pipe to make sure I am making the same size. There will be variation– that’s ok! Remember this is FUNfetti.
Once your batter is piped and things are looking good, give the sheet a good 4in drop onto the work surface. This gets out any pesky bubbles that might be lurking under the surface threatening your macaron glory. I do this a couple of times. Sprinkle with….well, sprinkles….and set aside to dry. You’ll want to put them on a counter, and set a timer for 15-20 minutes to let the batter set up. You’ll know they’re ready for the oven when you can barely touch one and your finger comes away dry. While the macarons are drying out– preheat your oven to 300 degrees F and make sure your racks are set to the upper middle and lower middle positions.
Once the macs are ready (See? having so much fun now we are calling them nicknames!), place them in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. At the 6 or 7 minute mark, rotate and swap the position of the sheet pans to ensure even cooking. You’ll want to stick around and not leave the kitchen during this time. Don’t become too distracted! You don’t want the macarons to brown at all. Overcooked macarons are no bueno.
Once the macarons are done, remove from the oven and set to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Once cool, carefully remove them from the parchment paper (sometimes I use an offset spatula to make sure I am getting them off just right). Set them aside to cool completely, and match them up into pairs by size.
Take the room temperature butter and place in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low speed until the butter is creamy. Slowly add powdered sugar and continue mixing on low. Once the butter and sugar is fully incorporated, add the sprinkles, salt, vanilla, and heavy cream. Turn the mixer to medium high and whip until fluffy. Taste test (duh). Add more sprinkles if you’re feeling crazy.
Using the same mini-trashbag over a plastic tumbler technique– fill a pastry bag with the frosting. Cut off the tip and pipe onto the underside of the macarons, carefully pressing together to make an adorable sandwich.
ALL IMAGES AND TEXT © REBA TOLODAY / THE PROPER BINGE
DISCLAIMER: THERE ARE SOME AFFILIATE/REFERRAL LINKS IN THIS POST, AND IF YOU PURCHASE I’LL RECEIVE A SMALL PERCENTAGE IN RETURN. THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR SUPPORTING ME AND MY AMAZON SHOPPING HABIT.