So, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m on a bit of a macaron kick over here. I tend to go through these cycles every once in a while. What happens is, innocently enough, I find a macaron recipe that looks pretty tasty and I decide I’m going to give it a whirl. If the macs fail, as they often did in my early days of attempting them, I get aggravated and have to try again IMMEDIATELY because no way are these adorable tiny cookies going to defeat me. If things go well, as they did in the case of these candy cane macarons, I get super excited, decide I am now a master at baking macarons, and IMMEDIATELY want to start baking more flavors and varieties. Until I run out of blanched almonds, because making macarons takes long enough as it is and who wants to take a trip to Trader Joe’s on top of it?! (To make things clear, Trader Joe’s is exactly 8 minutes from my house. I’m just lazy.)
That being said, I’m glad I got on that kick, because these cinnamon roll macarons were totally worth it. They have just a hint of cinnamon in the macaron shells, with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting as the filling. The cinnamon is really the star of the show here, so you’ll want to use a good quality one – I prefer Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon, as it’s a little richer and spicier in flavor. These macs are not quite as light tasting as the candy cane ones, and are a bit sweeter; but they are rich and delicious just the same.
As I’ve mentioned before, I use the Italian meringue method to make my macaron shells. Even though this method takes a bit more time, I’ve found the results to be a lot more reliable. If you’re going to put the time and effort into making them, might as well give yourself an edge when it comes to getting good results, right? For step-by-step photos, check out my macaron tutorial.
For the shells:
- 212 grams almond meal OR blanched almonds
- 212 grams confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting
- 82 and 90 grams egg whites, divided*
- 236 grams granulated sugar, plus a pinch
- 158 grams water
For the filling:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups (8 ounces) confectioner’s sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- seeds from ½ vanilla bean
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
If using blanched almonds, combine the almonds and the confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Sift the mixture through a fine mesh sieve placed over a large mixing bowl to ensure that no large chunks get into the batter. You may have to re-process the leftover almond bits until they are ground small enough. If you are using almond meal, you may still want to run it briefly through the food processor to make sure it’s finely ground enough. Stir the cinnamon into the almond mixture.
In a small bowl, weigh out 82 grams of egg whites, being careful not to get any yolk into the whites. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg whites; mix until thoroughly combined. The resulting mixture will be very thick.
Combine the water and 236 grams granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Begin heating over medium heat, monitoring the temperature with a digital or candy thermometer. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 90 grams egg whites and a pinch of granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the sugar syrup reaches 220°F, begin whipping the egg whites on medium speed. Continue whipping until the egg whites form soft peaks, then turn the mixer to low just to keep the whites moving.
As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 248°F, remove it from the heat and turn the stand mixer back to medium speed. With the mixer running, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites in a steady stream. “Slowly” is the key word here – you don’t want to accidentally scramble your egg whites by adding too much heat too quickly. Once the sugar syrup is fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks have formed.
Add about 1/3 of the meringue into the dry ingredients and fold in until combined. Continue adding in the meringue in parts, folding gently but firmly. Keep adding in meringue until the batter runs off the spatula in thick ribbons and reincorporates within about 20-30 seconds.
Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. Pipe rounds of batter about 1-inch in diameter onto your prepared baking sheets. If the batter is the right consistency, it shouldn’t spread much, so you can pipe the shells fairly close together. You may see small peaks right after piping, but these should smooth out within a minute or so. Once your shells are piped, rap your baking sheet hard against the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. You might get some air bubbles that rise to the surface but don’t break; pop these with a toothpick. Lightly dust with additional cinnamon.
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the tops are set on their feet (not too wiggly). You can also test their doneness by trying to peel one off the baking sheet; if the top comes off of the feet, they’re not done. Let the shells cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.
To make the filling, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar and continue to beat until combined. Stir in the vanilla, vanilla bean seeds, cinnamon and salt.
To assemble the macarons, transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip. Pipe rounds of filling onto half the macaron shells and top with the remaining shells, pushing down gently. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator; allow to come to room temperature before eating.
Yield: about 4 dozen macarons
Source: concept and filling adapted from The Blonde Buckeye