Easter is upon us!
My kids gave up eating chocolate easter eggs a few years ago, but there’s always room for macarons. Always.
Enter, “creme egg” macarons! Chocolate shells, filled with a vanilla ermine frosting “egg white” and a yellow custard “yolk”.
If you’re new to the macaron game, check out my comprehensive written, pictorial and video tutorial.
140g ground almonds
125g powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
15g unsweetened cocoa powder
100g egg white (from approx. 3 eggs), room temperature, divided 50/50
brown food colouring (optional)
100g granulated (white) sugar
Prepare 2 parchment lined baking sheets. They need to be big enough to hold 30 x 4cm / 1 1/2” diameter shells each.
Mix the ground almonds, powdered sugar and cocoa powder together in a bowl, then grind in a food processor until you have an extra fine texture. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor.
Sift into a large bowl (I use a mesh strainer and push the mixture through with a spatula), putting any bigger pieces of almond back into the food processor to re-grind.
Add 50g egg whites and mix thoroughly into the almond mixture. At this point, you can add food colouring, if desired. Set aside.
In another bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, scrupulously clean and free of any oil or egg yolk, beat the other 50g egg whites to stiff peaks.
Meanwhile, put the granulated sugar and water into a small heavy-based saucepan and heat on medium-low to 118°C / 244°F, without stirring.
While whisking constantly on low speed (to avoid splashing hot syrup), slowly add the cooked sugar mixture to the beaten egg whites, pouring it down the inside edge of the bowl. You’ll get a bit of it hardening on the side of the bowl, but that’s okay – just leave it there.
Whisk at high speed until the mixture is cool, about 3 minutes. The mixture should increase in volume and become firm and shiny, and you should get a beak when you lift the whisk.
Scrape the meringue onto the almond mixture and incorporate with a rubber or silicone spatula until you have a homogenous batter that runs from the spatula in a thick ribbon.
Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 7 – 9mm / #10 – #12 plain round tip (this is best done in two batches, so you don’t overfill the bag). Pipe 60 equally sized egg-shaped shells, about 4cm / 1 1/2” at the widest part, in staggered rows onto the prepared sheets. You’ll need to move the piping bag to fill the shape, but in order to avoid bubbles you should avoid lifting it or swirling the batter, so it’s best to pipe with the bag on a 45° angle, with the tip almost touching the parchment. Start at the base end and work your way up to the narrow end.
Tap the baking sheet firmly on the bench several times to release air bubbles and obtain a smooth surface. Leave the tray to rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes until a slight skin forms. If you touch it, it should be only just tacky.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2.
Bake the macarons in the centre of the oven for 20 – 22 minutes, one sheet at a time, turning the sheet after 10 minutes. You can test for doneness by gently nudging the top of one of the shells – it shouldn’t move away from the foot.
Remove from oven and remove the parchment from the tray with the shells still on it and place on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, until completely cool, then remove macaron shells carefully from the parchment.
Vanilla ermine frosting
90ml (6 Tbsp) whole milk
9g (3 1/2 tsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
small pinch salt
85g (6 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
75g (6 Tbsp) granulated (white) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
white powder food colouring (optional)
Whisk flour into milk and place over medium heat in a small saucepan. Heat until thickened, whisking constantly. It should have the consistency of béchamel. Whisk in salt and pour mixture into a small bowl, then cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface to avoid a skin forming. Set aside to cool completely.
In a mixing bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and food colouring, if using, and mix in well.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the cooled milk mixture one tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated and you have a thick, fluffy frosting.
4g (1 1/2 tsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
30g (2 1/2 Tbsp) granulated (white) sugar
1 large egg yolk
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
few drops vanilla extract
yellow food colouring (optional)
Whisk flour and sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Beat egg yolk in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan. When the milk comes to the boil, remove from heat. Add vanilla, flour and sugar to the pan and whisk until there are no lumps.
Very gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk.
Return the mixture to the the saucepan. Cook over a very low heat, stirring constantly with the whisk, until the mixture is very thick, about 6 minutes.
Whisk in a drop or two of food colouring as desired.
Remove from heat, transfer to a clean bowl, cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface (to avoid a skin forming) and set aside to cool completely. I find it best if it’s cold for filling because it is thicker and easier to work with, so I refrigerate it. The custard can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge until needed.
Pipe a generous ring of vanilla ermine frosting onto the flat side of half the shells, coming all the way to the edge but leaving a void in the middle for the yolk.
Pipe or spoon about 1/3 teaspoon of custard yolk into the void in the ermine frosting.
Top with the remaining shells and press together gently.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge to mature for at least 24 hours before eating.