Cactus & Ice Cream Cone Macarons

Quarantine calls for colorful macarons, chocolate malt buttercream and a healthy dose of sprinkles. # 167: Cactus & Ice Cream Cone Macarons

Continuing on with my use-up-what-I-already have plan for quarantine, I found some treasures in the freezer: almond flour, egg whites and chocolate malt buttercream! If that doesn’t say “make macarons” then I don’t know what does.

Since the almond flour wasn’t the freshest, it caused the tops of some of the larger cookies to wrinkle. But guess what? They still tasted delicious!

Besides the occasionally wrinkle, the rest if the science worked as it was supposed to. Mainly, flat tops with bubbly feet. I let them dry after shaping for an hour and popped all the visible bubbles with a toothpick. Such a finicky little cookie.

Best fix for cookie wrinkles I’ve found is to bake the almond flour quickly to dry it out before using it. Or just get fresh almond flour when normal nom-quarantine life resumes!

Thaw your egg whites ahead of time! I float the frozen tupperware in a bowl of hot water for 20-30 minutes and it works like a charm. Also weirdly looks like gatorade in this pic. . .

From gatorade to fluffy white snow. I whipped it to soft peaks in the stand mixer, then used the whisk attachment to finish whipping it by hand to stiff peaks. Since I only had the exact amount of egg whites for the recipe, I didn’t want to risk over-whipping and breaking them.


Next up, the Neverending Sifting Show. I always forget how long it takes to sift almond flour for a double batch . . . Phew!

I alternated tapping the sifter against my hand and stirring the flour/sugar with the spoon to make it go a little faster. I only have one crank sifter and I like to keep it for all-purpose flour only. After twenty minutes of hand sifting though, I was having regrets.

I stopped every ten minutes or so to fold in the sifted sand. A fun trick I’ve learned (from watching a million ZoeBakes instagram videos) is to shake/vibrate the spatula gently as you bring it up at the top of the folding swoosh. It stops the freshly sifted flour from re-compacting down into clumps. Just imagine the tiniest, gentlest earthquake in your bowl.

Almost there! Just a few more folds before they get split up into their coloring bowls. You don’t want to overmix at this step, since you’ll be mixing in food coloring in a minute.

Vivid and pastel greens for the cacti, and hot pink and tan for the ice cream cones. I don’t own any brown food coloring, but a teaspoon of cocoa powder did the trick!

There is a reason that almost all macarons are circles . . . They really really like to round themselves out, no matter what shape you pipe them into initially. A toothpick, some water and a lot of patience were required to get the cones to hold a vaguely triangular shape. The longer you let the set/dry, the easier they are to shape. Still ended up with a lot of cone-colored blobs. Sigh.

Despite being all different shapes and sizes, they actually resembled ice cream cones!! Calling it a win.

In hindsight, it would have been smarter to pipe on sprinkles post-game, instead of adding them pre-sauna. They warped the texture more than I expected, but they’re just so fun so who cares!

Side note: malt is really one of the best candy and milkshake flavors out there! The nostalgia is so real – getting dark chocolate malt balls the size of quarters at Le BonBon in Montclair, or sharing a vanilla malt milkshake with my sister at Fentons on Piedmont Ave. Yum. Plus the flavor translates really well to buttercream! I had used ovaltine powder to flavor this buttercream for a friend’s birthday cake and 100% saving the recipe.

To minimize the mismatching on the succulents, I made regular round macarons for the backs.

Super simple glaze of water and powdered sugar for decorating. It takes so little water, its astonishing. Make sure to add the water drop by drop to get the exact consistency you’re looking for. Otherwise, it’s an endless game of just a little more sugar… just a little more water..

These tall ones were completely over-baked and inedible, but I decorated a few just for kicks since the shape was so cool!

Happy munching!

Recipe inspiration from:

Buttercream recipe:

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