Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Present Box Macarons

It's been a little quiet on the blog this month, as the less fun parts of my life have had to take priority over the baking parts. This completely bums me out since baking is my therapy and helps to uncrankify (yep I just made that up) me. But weekend finally arrived, and with a sigh of relief I was back in the kitchen with Lady Mix-a-Lot.
I've been lacking inspiration for Christmas baking ideas, which has surprised me since I went crazy with it last year. But this idea sort of popped up out of nowhere, and I am completely in love with the result. I've always wanted to do Christmas-themed macarons, but Zumbo had already used up the best idea for candy cane macarons. There's still plenty of other Christmas things to be turned into macarons, and this time I decided it would be Christmas present boxes.
Lucky for me, I stumbled across this amazing Gingerbread Buttercream recipe from Martha, and I had to try it. It was the PERFECT filling for this macaron, so unbelievably smooth and light, packed with flavour from all the spices. It really does taste just like gingerbread.
Piping these square macarons with red ribbons was a pain in the butt, I'm not going to lie. I wasn't sure how to get them nice and square, but piping a thin square border and then filling it in worked out pretty well. As for the ribbon, I had to use a super thin piping tip and pipe the bows very carefully, making sure it didn't spread out into a big red blob. But in the end I think you can definitely tell what they are supposed to be, and I'm super chuffed with the result. Delicious and pretty freakin' adorable.
Christmas Present Macarons with Gingerbread Buttercream
(makes 12-15 macarons, buttercream recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)
100g aged egg whites (you can use fresh eggs too, just make sure they are room temperature. I always use fresh these days, and zap it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds)
110g almond meal, dried in a cool (100 degrees C) oven for 5 minutes and sifted
200g icing sugar
50g caster sugar
Optional: 1 tsp powdered egg whites (available from The Essential Ingredient)
Red powdered or paste food colouring

For the gingerbread buttercream:
1 large egg white
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
90g (about 6 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
A few drops of pure vanilla extract
1/3 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
(If you're new to making Swiss meringue buttercream, these wonderful tutorials from two of my favourite bloggers will help)

Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in food processor and pulse for a minute to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse a few times to combine. Sift into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and egg white powder in a medium mixing bowl until the egg white powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.

Add meringue to your dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white, then fold carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Just as the mixture starts to come together, take approximately 1/4 of the mixture and place in a separate mixing bowl. Add red food colouring to this bowl and then continue to mix both mixtures until it is the right consistency. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after about 30 seconds. (It is not so bad if you slightly overmix the red mixture in this case) Place in a piping bag and pipe squares of about 4cmx4cm on lined baking sheets or silicon baking mats. I did this by using a narrow tip to piped the outline of the squares and then filled them in. Gently rap your baking sheets on your bench top to remove any extra bubbles from your piped shells.
(I got the chance to use my awesome new Matryoshka Doll measuring cups, thanks Suze for the birthday pressie :D)
Leave shells on bench to dry for about 30 mins, so that when you press the surface of one gently it does not break. Using a very narrow round tip (2mm) pipe on the red ribbons, piping a cross along the top with a bow in the centre. Take care not to disrupt the dried surface of the piped macaron squares or it will be more likely to crack in the oven.

Preheat your oven to 140-150 degrees C (temperature varies depending on your oven) and dry for a further 30 mins. Place on top of an overturned roasting tray or another baking sheet if they are not professional grade. Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes, then gently remove from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the buttercream, Whisk together egg white and sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Clip a candy thermometer to side of bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees F and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg white mixture on high speed until cooled and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Beat in vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Buttercream can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month; bring to room temperature before using, and beat on low speed until smooth. Use buttercream to sandwich macarons. Place in the fridge overnight in an airtight container. Can be stored in fridge for several days, bring to room temperature before serving.
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  1. What a fabulous idea. These would make a delightful Christmas gift for anyone. Happy holidays!

  2. These are beautiful! You inspire me! Wish you a Merry Christmas :-)

  3. you never cease to amaze me! What a genius idea. Hopefully I can master the art of macarons with my shitty oven soon!

  4. Wow! They look great! I bet they're tasty too. I'm always so impressed with the creativity of your baking on this blog :)


  5. these are awesome. would it mess with the flavour too much to ice the bows after assembling?

  6. Janelle Renee Perry - You could try, but icing might be messier (unless it's royal icing). Personally I like that the bows are made of macaron mixture and are part of the shell :)

  7. The macarons are so adorable... Merry Christmas!

  8. I absolutely love this!!!!! Square macarons - very creative! :) The bird wrapper in the background is just so adorable!

  9. They're gorgeous! What a fabulous idea. Merry Christmas!

  10. they look adorable! nice square macarons pressies. merry xmas!

  11. Oh my, these are the cutest Christmas presents ever! And tasty, I bet, to boot =D

  12. So cute. Love the little ribbons you put on each Macaron top. Love them. Perfect for a Christmas Gift for any Macaron Lover.

  13. omg steph you're a genius - these are adorable! Nice piping skills with the bow on the box too

  14. These are such a brilliant idea, and perfectly executed too. I think I'd be tempted to eat that gingerbread buttercream straight out of the bowl!

  15. that is so freaking awesome dude! eee so cute i love them! you haz mad skillz yo

  16. aww these are so cute steph. It's a gift that comes readily wrapped. I also love those new measuring cups =D

  17. Those look fantastic! And I love everything gingerbread-flavored.

  18. those are beautiful. Prettiest macarons I've seen in a long time !

  19. what a great idea! these made me smile tonite after a long day...have not even tried macarons...although i love kiddos have tree nut allergies...awesome job!

  20. Great job. So them.

  21. omgoodness those look amazing! so creative and beautiful! I wouldn't be able to eat them! well... I'd hesitate anyway :)

  22. wowoowowow awesome square macarons! take that! round macarons!

  23. Wow! these are perfect! love the shape! you are talented!!!

  24. Wow, these are SO gorgeous! You are very creative! I love these.

  25. those are adorable! square macroons are awesome.

  26. You should be super chuffed, they look awesome! Lovely delicious presents that you don't feel bad about all the wrapping paper littered all over the floor :)

  27. I have the same measuring cups!!!

  28. I am seriously jealous of your macaron making abilities. I nailed making them my first few tries, and can't do it for the life of me anymore.

    These are beauts.


  29. I added this receipe to StumbleUpon.
    What a great idea, it's wonderful! I will certainly try those before christmas! Greetings from Germany!

  30. They look awesome! I'm now contemplating christmas tree macarons! :)


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