Mardi Gras Macarons Recipe

These colorful macarons are inspired by the Mardi Gras King Cake tradition. Be sure to let guests know that one cookie will have a baby surprise inside and that they'll have to make the Mardi Gras macarons next year.

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Ingredients

For the macaron shells:
3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
1/2 cup extra-fine sugar
violet and green gel food coloring


1 cup unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
gold sanding sugar
violet gel food coloring

Special materials:
one plastic Mardi Gras baby (available at cake supply stores)
artists' brush

Directions

For the macaron shells:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
3. Sift almond flour and confectioners' sugar together 2-3 times. Set aside.
4. Whisk egg whites with a hand mixer until foamy.
5. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
6. Reduce speed and gradually add extra-fine sugar. Increase speed and beat until stiff peaks form.
7. Sift flour mixture over whites with a fine sieve. Discard any lumps or coarse bits that remain.
8. Fold mixture together with a rubber spatula — using short strokes at first — until just combined.
9. The batter will be very stiff. Divide batter into two bowls and place a small amount of green food coloring in one bowl and violet in the other. Note: Normally powdered food coloring is used, but a small amount of gel does not disturb the batter. I would not recommend liquid food coloring.
10. Fold each batter until it loosens considerably. When batter is ready, it should fall from the spatula in a thick ribbon.
11. Transfer each color of the mixture to a piping bag.
12. Pipe 1" or 1 1/2" rounds on the parchment-lined baking sheets.
13. Let piped macarons stand uncovered for 15 minutes to form a crust.
14. Decrease temperature to 325 degrees F just before placing the baking sheet in the oven.
15. Bake pans one at a time for 10 minutes, turning halfway through (Image 1). Note: After the first batch has baked, the oven temperature should be increased to 375 degrees F then decreased to 325 degrees F just before the second baking sheet goes in.

For the buttercream:
1. Cream butter and confectioners' sugar together in a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer.
2. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. If mixture is stiff, use 1 or 2 tablespoons of cream to loosen.
3. Add vanilla. Beat until flavor is thoroughly incorporated.
4. Transfer icing to a piping bag and pipe onto the green macaron shells; sandwich with the purple shells. Place the baby between two shells (Image 2).
5. Place the gold sanding sugar in a small bowl and roll the edges of the sandwich cookies in the sugar.
6. Place a little violet gel food coloring in a condiment cup and thin with a few drops of water.
7. Load the artists’ brush with violet coloring and brush over macaron shells.
8. Keep macarons refrigerated in an airtight container (Image 3).

Yield: 15 sandwich cookies

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