Bay Area in California does not get any snow. We have to drive about 4 hours north east to go to Tahoe to experience snow! My kids have not seen snow as yet, because my younger one keeps falling sick in the winter, and feels very cold! I hope this IS the Winter Season that I can take them to experience snow for a couple of days. They keep talking about building a snowman, and throwing snowballs at each other and sleding :), especially after watching Frozen a few years ago. It is certainly magical when you are in the snow and so much fun as well. All for a short time haha! I am not a snow/cold person at all. I come from Bombay where it is humid ALL year round. There is NO concept of Winter too, so when I saw snow for the first time, after coming to the US, I went absolutely crazy and loved it !
Holiday season is the time for cheer, and lots of cookies! I have been doing a lot of testing for cookie recipes, some old and some new. I love making macarons, it is almost therapeutic to pipe those rounds for the macarons and the anticipation for seeing the feet on the macarons once baked! I love playing with different flavor profiles, which makes it a lot more fun! I follow a lot of amazing bakers on Instagram, who make the most beautiful macaron designs, just not in the traditional round shape, but in different shapes! It is so inspiring! Being inspired by their work, I really wanted to try out snowman macarons. It would mean putting 2 circles together and piping them such that they just touch to form a thick neck.
I had to create the template, since there was no template available online. So I made a 3.5 cm big circle, and a 2.5 cm smaller circle on top of it, leaving a gap of about 0.3 cm between the 2 circles. I left a gap of about 1.5 inches between the 2 snowmen. When pipping the 2 rounds, I was very careful to make sure that I pipe exactly in the center of the rounds, so that the macaron shells are even. That part was very difficult and I did have some imperfect shells. It requires a lot of patience. I know many of you are intimidated to make macarons as was I when I first made them. I failed many a times, before I finally got the technique right! I have put all the tips at the end of the recipe, from my learnings, and hope that it will be useful for you. Also, once I pipped the shells, banging the tray against the counter is very essential. I put a kitchen cloth underneath the tray, and bang the tray on it. I bang it atleast 8-10 times, to ensure that there are NO air bubbles in the macs. If I do see any air bubbles, I pop them and cover them ever so slightly with a toothpick and clean it up and make it smooth.
Letting them rest and harden is very essential to the process. No step can be skipped while making macarons else they will NOT turn out good. Weighing the ingredients is extremely important, including the egg whites. If the egg whites are over 4 ozs, I remove till I can reach 4 oz. I baked the shells at night, and did the frosting the following morning. I flavored the shells with vanilla extract and cinnamon powder, and the frosting was flavored with egg nog and more nutmeg! I kept the flavoring simple and focused on the design aspect of these cuties! I made icing simply using confectioner’s sugar and water, making sure that the water is less, to ensure a thicker icing. I separated them out into small bowls and added the desired colors, put them in a ziplock each, and twisted it tight. You can clip the twisted part to ensure that it stays tight. Be careful to cut a tiny piece first, and test pipping on a parchment paper before you start pipping the snowmen.
Patience is the key, and with patience, Christmas music on my Google Home, and my kiddos, we had such a fun Saturday morning, decorating these snowmen! We were absolutely delighted with the design! My daughter made a snowwoman with bows in her head ;). It was very cute! I love the end result, and was overwhelmed in a pleasant way with the response to these cuties on social media! I hope to try more different shapes, and hopefully create the templates such that people can use them too.
Hope you get to try simple macarons first, if you have not ventured there as yet. You can even make a snowman out of one round of the macaron shell and they would look adorable.
If you do try this recipe, please do not forget to tag #thejamlab and/or leave a comment on how you liked it, on this blog post.
Hope you all are having a wonderful Holiday Season so far, and enjoying the cheerfulness in whichever part of the world you reside.
- 7 ounces confectioners sugar
- 4 ounces almond flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 4 large(4 ounces) egg whites, room temperature
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 3.5 ounces granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temp
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 4 tbsp Eggnog(from the store)
- 3 cups confectioners sugar ( the buttercream should not be runny, it should be firm, but pipeable at the same time)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the icing:
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- food coloring
- Preheat oven to 315 degrees. Line baking sheets with the paper templates, and top with the parchment paper.
- In a bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the confectioner's sugar, cinnamon powder with the almond flour, until a fine powder is formed. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. Using a drum sieve, sift mixture three times into a large bowl. Set aside.
- To make the meringue: In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add granuated sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is thick, scrap down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla extract extract and increase the speed to high, whipping until stiff, firm, glossy peaks form for atleast 10 minutes.
- To complete the macaronnage step: Sift the almond flour mixture, one-third at a time, over the egg white mixture, and fold using a large spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Once all the almond flour mixture is incorporated check for the correct consistency, the batter should be firm, have a glossy shine and drip smoothly from the spatula. Make sure that the entire almond mixture is incorporated. This step is very important.
- Transfer the batter to a pastry bag filled with a 1/2 inch plain round tip(#12), and pipe 1 1/3 inch rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets. Gentle tap the bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Do this step atleast 5-7 times. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes atleast. Check for a slight crust to form on the macaron. The macarons should not stick to your finger when lightly touched. If they have a tip, gently pat it down with your finger.
- Bake one sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 12-13 minutes.
- Allow macarons to cool on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
- In a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, add the butter, nutmeg and salt and whip until light and creamy about 2 minutes.
- Add the sugar, egg nog and vanilla to a whipped butter and mix until the ingredients are well combined and the mixture is smooth about 2 minutes.Use a pastry bag to pipe the macaron shells, one at a time, and top with another macaron shell gently.
- For the icing:
- In a medium bowl, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and water, into a medium consistency paste. It should be slightly hard, not runny at all. Separate them out into as many colors as you wish to do, into small bowls.
- Add the desired food coloring, and mix well. Put each color into a ziplock bag, by placing the bag in a small glass and lining the glass with the plastic bag. Add in the icing. Close the bag and twist to keep it ready. Do the same for all the colors and keep the bags ready.
- To decorate each macaron into a snowman, slightly cut the tip of each ziplock. Best tip is to practice on a paper towel or a paper with the tips ever so slightly cut off. Practice your design. Keep another paper towel nearby, to clean after each piping to ensure the design is clean.
- You can use a toothpick to spread the icing, or keep the design clean.
1) Make sure that you whip the meringue thoroughly. The best way to check after 10 minutes of whipping is to remove the whisk, stir the meringue vigorously with the whisk and turn it upside down. The merigue should stay stiff like a peak.
2) Make sure that you fold the almond mixture and it is well incorporated with the meringue and the end mixture is smooth and falls off the spatula with ease. It should look like a ribbon falling off the spatula.
3) When using the pastry bag to pipe the macarons, hold it absolutely vertical, and center to the holes on the template and slightly above it, and not touching the paper to pipe it. You need to squeeze just a tad bit to release the batter onto the parchment paper.
4) Make sure that you tap the tray atleast 6-10 times to release any air bubbles in the macaron shell.
5) You HAVE to let the macarons rest for atleast 30-45 minutes to form a nice shell.
6) It is very important to rotate the tray halfway through baking to make sure that the macarons are baked evenly.
7) DO NOT remove the shells off the parchment paper as soon as the tray comes out of the oven, else you will break the shell. Wait for 2-3 minutes atleast for it to cool down.
8) You can keep the shells covered and do the frosting the next day as well. The shells will keep for a couple of days.