YAYYY! December is here! Far out this year has gone by quickly. There are a lot of intense things going on at the moment, but that hasn't stopped me from getting into the Christmas spirit. Christmas is my all-time favourite holiday to bake for, I never get sick of it and never find it too cheesy (unlike Valentine's Day). So I thought I'd kick off my baking for this month with some Christmas-themed macarons!
You may remember some of my previous Christmas macarons; Penguins, Snowmen, Present boxes. This year I decided to make some Christmas Wreath Macarons. I piped them just like I piped my Doughnut Macarons, making sure to leave a big hole in the middle of each when I piped them since the mixture spreads out a lot as it settles. I'm totally not impressed with my actual macarons this time around, I underwhipped the meringue so the feet are pitifully small. But the idea is still super cute and festive so I wanted to share it with you guys.
I was torn as to what filling to fill these with, but I ended up going with a cherry flavour. Cherry is one of those quintessential Australian Christmas fruits, with so much fresh, cheap cherries available at this time of the year. I actually used frozen cherries for this, to avoid wasting time pitting cherries, but you could use fresh ones, or use cherry jam to save even more time. And for those of you on the other side of the planet, you could always substitute it with a more Winter-friendly flavour like the egg-nog ganache in my penguin macaron recipe that I linked earlier.
I love how vibrant and purple the filling is! This isn't a normal ganache, I didn't need to add any cream since the liquid from the cherry filling was enough to get the right consistency, but you can add some cream if you prefer. I found these adorable holly sprinkles online (link in the recipe below), but you can always just use regular long green sprinkles and round red sprinkles or cachous to decorate it. Anyway I'm hoping I have enough time to test out all the fun Christmas baking I have planned, we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, you can check out all my other Christmas recipes here.
Christmas Wreath Macarons with Cherry Filling
(recipe adapted from Trissalicious)
For the macarons:
Note: this method uses an Italian meringue. If you prefer, you can continue to use the French method I normally use. If you are a beginner with macarons read up and practice plain macarons first. BraveTart has lots of useful advice and info on the subject
Almond Meal Paste:
125 grams almond meal
125 grams icing/confectioner's sugar
50 grams egg whites
125g caster (granulated) sugar
50grams egg whites
Pinch of egg white powder
Green powdered/gel food colouring, sprinkles to decorate (I used these, Wilton also has these, plain red and green sprinkles will also be fine, or silver cachous)
- In a food processor, blend the almond meal, icing sugar and egg whites until this resembles a fine paste. Set aside.
- To make the Italian meringue, place the caster sugar in a saucepan. Add the water and make sure that the sugar is dampened. Heat the mixture and bring this to a boil (do not stir). Place a candy thermometer in the syrup and take the temperature of 118°C (245°F)
- While the sugar is cooking, beat the egg whites and egg white powder using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat at medium speed until the eggs become foamy. Continue beating on high until stiff peaks form.
- Stop the syrup from cooking once it reaches 118°C (245°F) and take this off the heat and let the bubbling subside for a few seconds. Pour the syrup in a thin, steady stream over the beaten egg whites while the continuing to whisk at medium speed.
- When all the syrup has been added, (add food colouring here) continue to beat until glossy and meringue has cooled to room temperature (around 10 to 15 minutes).
- Using a silicone spatula, fold a third of Italian meringue into the almond mixture to loosen it. Then, fold in the rest of the Italian meringue. (You really want to beat all the large bubbles out of the mixture, which is easily done by smearing the mixture on the bottom and side of the bowl with your spatula) Continue folding and stirring until the batter is glossy, and fluid. 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.
- Place mixture in a piping bag with a narrow (about 0.3cm) round piping tip. Pipe a thin ring about 4cm wide on your prepared trays, leaving about 3cm space around each one. (Make sure to pipe these with a wider hole in the centre than you want the final shape to be, as the mixture will spread slightly) Tap baking trays carefully and firmly on the benchtop a couple times to remove any large bubbles. Top with red and green sprinkles.
- Leave to dry for about 60 mins, until when you press the surface of one gently it does not break/stick to your finger. This will help prevent any cracking and help the feet to form on the macs.
- Preheat your oven to 130-150°C (265-300°F), depending on your oven (fan-forced ovens may need to be set as low as 100°C, it really depends) . You can place the tray of piped shells on top of an upside-down roasting tray or another baking tray, for better heat distribution.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. Carefully test if the base of the shell is ready by gently lifting one and if it’s still soft and sticking to the baking paper, then it needs to bake for a few minutes longer.
- 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.
For the Cherry Filling:
Note: You can replace the cherry sauce with store-bought cherry jam to save time
50g (1.7oz) cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted and diced
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
A few drops of pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) + 1/2 tsp cold water
100g (3.5oz) good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
- Prepare the cherry filling first; place diced cherries, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a small saucepan and place on medium heat. Stir over heat until sugar dissolves.
- Mix cornflour and water together in a separate small bowl then add to the saucepan and stir over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Place cherry mixture and chopped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and stir over a pot of simmering water until the chocolate melts and the mixture combines (if chocolate splits, add 1 tsp of water at a time and stir over heat until mixture reincorporates).
- Chill mixture until it thickens (if it is too runny, you can add melt more white chocolate into it), and then spoon mixture between macarons shells.
- Chill macarons in an airtight container overnight to allow flavour to mature. Serve at room temperature.