Vanilla gives such a lovely flavour, although it can often be classed as being boring and plain. These macarons may be ‘plain’ in flavour, but their appearance is far from it. I first saw the idea of cactus macarons on Instagram.. they just looked too cute and I knew I had to steal the idea – thank you to whoever thought of it first! 🙂
As you may not have noticed, macarons are one of my favourite bakes! They’re perfect, sweet, bite sized pieces of joy, and I am yet to find someone who dislikes them. They are so easy to change – whether it be the flavour or the appearance, as seen with these ones! This is a standard vanilla macaron recipe, that has been morphed into something a little more exciting, but feel free to leave out the green food colouring if you want something a bit more plain!
As always, I use Indulge with Mimi’s macaron base recipe 🙂 Happy Baking!
- 65g ground almonds
- 65g icing sugar
- 45g caster sugar
- 50g aged egg whites, ideally separated and left in the fridge over night
- pinch of salt
- gel gel food colouring – not liquid!
- 75g butter, softened
- 150g icing sugar
- 1tbsp. milk
- 1/2 vanilla pod or 1 tsp. of really good vanilla paste
- coloured fondant/ ready to roll icing
- Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
- Sift together your ground almonds and icing sugar together into a bowl, discarding large lumps and replace with some more ground almond! I also like to give my ground almonds and icing sugar a whizz in the food processor – so the consistency is super fine.
- In a clean glass bowl, whisk your egg whites until foamy and frothy. Add you salt and continue to whisk until ‘soft peaks’ – this is when the egg whites are starting to get thicker, but don’t yet retain their shape. Add your caster sugar in 3 stages and continue to whisk until you get a nice glossy meringue – I would say for another 2 or 3 minutes. Add a small amount of the green food colouring paste and whisk until its slightly darker than a pastel green colour – the colour fades slightly in the oven 🙂
- Add 1/3 of the almond mix into the egg whites and fold with a spatula. With your spatula make figures of 8 patterns, scooping the ground almond mix around and down in the meringue. You don’t have to be too delicate at this stage!
- Add the rest of the almond mix and continue to fold gently. This stage is called ‘Macaronage’, and is so critical!
- Stop folding when your macaronage has a ‘lava-like’ or honey consistency – this consistency is thinner than I had ever been achieving before I started using Mimi’s recipe. Another great tip is to draw out a figure of 8 into the macaronage with your spatula – if the trails of the macaronage mix stay in place then it is ready (see pic below). Check this if you’re at all worried! 🙂
- Next, fill up your piping bag, and pipe the macaron mixture into equal sized circles of varying sizes – I piped half in circles and half in triangle-kind-of shapes!
- After piping, bang your tray on top of your work surface… by tap I men actually hit your baking tray down onto the surface with quite a force. This is to get rid of any air bubbles in your shells which cause cracking when baking. I tap my tray about 3 or 4 times, but try not to get carried away..!
- If there are any visible air bubbles on the surface of your macarons, pop them with a toothpick.
- Turn on your oven to 160°C.
- Leave your macaron shells to rest on a work surface for around 30 mins. This is so your shell’s develop a ‘skin’, which allows little macaron ‘feet’ to form when baking. I have always rested my macarons, although some cookery books will miss out this step. You’re looking for the appearance of your shells to become matte and not shiny at all, this could take 15 mins, or even 45!
- Bake for 12-14 mins, one tray at a time! 🙂 Remove your macarons from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 mins on the tray
- To make the buttercream, beat together your softened butter with the icing sugar. Add your milk to obtain a smoother consistency, then add the seeds of 1/2 of a vanilla pod, by scraping the pod with the back of a knife. Alternatively add your vanilla extract / paste to obtain a strong vanilla flavour – the macaron shells have little flavour themselves so don’t be scared about the buttercream being overpowering!
- Pipe a blob of buttercream into the centre of an upturned macaron shell, and place another shell on top
- To make little fondant flowers, roll out your icing until roughly 2mm thick. Using a mini flower cutter (I have little ‘push’ flower cutters) cut out your shape and leave to one side. I also piped a blob of coloured icing in the middle of each one!
- To make the little cactus spikes, mix together 5tbsp of icing sugar with 5tsp of water. Add the water one teaspoon at a time, and stop adding water once it has a thick but pourable consistency. Add a little green food colouring if you wish!
- To decorate, place your icing into a piping bad and make little dashes on top of your macarons by making little flicking motions. Add your cut out flowers and viola!!
I hope you’ve enjoyed making these macarons, and that they are delicious! Don’t forget to comment with any questions you have below 🙂 ❤ Sofia xxx