I created this cookie with my macaron- and Easter- loving family in mind. These chewy cookies are a perfect spring treat because they can be easily piped into an egg shape, and pair beautifully with a variety of fillings. Classic Easter basket candy is the inspiration for these robin’s egg macarons, which are filled with a whipped milk chocolate ganache and plenty of soft caramel. (Or, you can opt to substitute marshmallow fluff for the caramel for an especially springy, candy-inspired take!) I like these best in subtle shades of pastel: pale blues, greens, yellows, and pinks. A clean toothbrush (or stiff-bristled pastry brush) is the key to the easy (and fun!) splatter technique. Let the cookies rest overnight in the fridge to soften before serving. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
- Prep time 3 hours 30 minutes
- Cook time 50 minutes
- makes 10 large or 20 small sandwich cookies
- Macaron shells
1 1/2 cups
(150g) finely ground almond flour
(226g) powdered sugar
(2g) fine sea salt
large egg whites (140g)
(99g) granulated sugar
(2g) pure vanilla extract
assorted gel food coloring, in pastel shade(s) as desired
to 2 drops brown gel food coloring
vodka or clear, neutral-flavored liquor
1 1/2 cups
(255g) finely chopped milk chocolate
(157g) heavy cream
(47g) malted milk powder
(28g) salted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups
(400g) prepared or homemade dulce de leche
Flaky sea salt, as needed
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (use your flattest, largest ones). Use a medium (about 3 inches) or small (about 2 inches) egg-shaped cookie cutter to trace rounds onto the parchment paper. Trace the ovals in rows, spacing each about 3/4 inch apart from one another, staggering the rows to fit as many macarons onto the sheet as will comfortably fit (about 10 large or 20 small per sheet). Turn the parchment paper over so the ink won’t touch the batter when you pipe onto the paper. Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip (such as 803/804/805).
- Make the macaron shells: Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt together into a medium bowl. Repeat 1 to 2 more times—you’re trying to eliminate clumps, combine the dry ingredients, and also aerate this mixture. (If any rogue clumps of almond flour remain that won’t fit through the strainer even when coerced, discard them.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), whip the egg whites on medium speed until slightly foamy, about 30 to 45 seconds. Raise the mixer speed to high and gradually add the granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue whipping until the meringue holds stiff peaks, 5 to 7 minutes. During this time, you can add any color you like to the meringue. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Remove the meringue from the mixer. Add about half of the almond flour mixture to the bowl and start to mix with a silicone spatula to combine. It’s OK to mix the batter a bit more vigorously at this stage—you’re sort of “tempering” the batter with the dry ingredients, which will make it easier to incorporate the remainder. You’re also intentionally starting to deflate the batter to get it close to the ideal texture.
- Add the remaining almond flour mixture to the batter, and fold gently to incorporate with a silicone spatula. Move the spatula around the outside of the bowl in a circular motion, then cut through the center and repeat. Rotate the bowl as you fold to keep working with all the batter evenly. The goal is to end up with a batter the consistency of “lava”—it should hold its shape when dropped from the spatula but slowly spread and lose definition (in other words: thick, but not so thick it holds any peaks).
- Carefully transfer the batter to the prepared piping bag, filling it just over halfway full. Pipe the batter onto the prepared baking sheets using the guides to keep them evenly sized. Hold the pastry bag parallel to the baking sheet and begin to apply pressure, allowing the batter to flow out of the tip into a fluid round. Stop applying pressure just before you reach the end of your guide. Repeat until the baking sheets are filled up, refilling the pastry bag as needed.
- Gently tap the baking sheets on the countertop—this should smooth out the surface of the macaron and spread it slightly. If desired, use a needle or skewer to pop any visible bubbles on the surface of the macarons.
- In a small bowl, sir the food coloring and vodka together to form a slurry. Dip a clean toothbrush or stiff-bristled pastry brush into the color, and flick it over the surface of the macarons to resemble robin’s eggs.
- Let the macarons rest at room temperature until they form a skin on the surface, about 1 to 2 hours (it can take less time in a dry environment, longer in a more humid one). Towards the end of rest time, preheat the oven to 300°F with your oven rack in the center portion of the oven. (I bake one tray at a time because they are so finicky, but if your oven can handle it, you can bake both trays at once.)
- Bake the macarons until they have risen, forming a foot on the bottom, and the surface of the cookies is shiny, dry, and set, 18 to 25 (less for small macarons, longer for the larger) minutes. Once baked, cool the macarons completely on the baking sheet. (The shells can be carefully stored in an airtight container, layers separated by pieces of parchment paper, and frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready, assemble the macarons using frozen cookies, then refrigerate overnight before serving.)
- Make the whipped malted ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and malted milk powder to a simmer over medium heat, whisking to combine. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for about 15 seconds. Use a silicone spatula to stir the mixture until it forms a smooth, shiny ganache. Add the butter and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s firmed slightly but still scoopable.
- Transfer the cooled ganache to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment (or to a large bowl if using a hand mixer). Whip on medium speed until the mixture lightens in color and texture, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a pastry bag, fitted with a medium round or star tip. Place the dulce de leche in a pastry bag (no tip required).
- When the macarons are cool, gently peel them off of the parchment paper. As you work, you can pair up the macarons with their closest match, flipping over half of the cookies.
- Pipe a ring of the whipped ganache filling around the outside of each of the flipped over cookies, stopping just shy of the outside edge. Repeat on all the cookies, then cut a ½-inch opening from the tip of the pastry bag holding the dulce de leche, and pipe it into the center to fill it in (about 2 tablespoons/40g for large, or 1 tablespoon/20g for small). Sprinkle a little flaky salt on top of the caramel. Place each cookie’s pair on top and press down gently.
- The cookies can be eaten immediately, but they are typically left to soften overnight, which happens as they absorb moisture from the filling. To do this, transfer the cookies to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. (The cookies can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.)