Halloween French Macarons
Oh my goodness, am I excited to share these Halloween macarons with you today! My sweet friend and neighbor Stephanie from the fabulous blog All Artful came over on Monday and we had so much fun goofing off in the kitchen, cranking up the music, and dreaming up these Halloween-themed macarons.
I remember the first time I ever had a macaron. It was last year. I was in New York at Bouchon Bakery. Just a few months before finding myself there, staring at the pastry case, on the hunt for a french macaron, I wasn’t exactly sure what one was. But I knew I needed to find one.
It was life changing.
The macaron has so many things going for it. It’s cute. It’s layered. It’s mysterious. It’s sweet. And it’s got fabulous texture. It’s crispy. It’s chewy. It’s light and airy. It’s decadent. It will make you swoon. Just wait til you see the inside of this little guy. But more on that below.
Last month my friend Shaina from Food for My Family came down and stayed with me for a weekend filled with dessert making and photo shoots for her upcoming cookbook. We made the most adorable pink macarons, and once I saw how easy they were, I was hooked.
I was a little intimidated to try them on my own, but let me calm your fears. They’re not that scary. I totally promise you. This recipe is pretty foolproof. It makes me feel like a macaron pro!
Just look at how perfect these little guys turned out. If I can do it, you definitely can too. If you’ve never had a macaron, don’t wait another second. Whip these up and treat yourself to this fabulous dessert, right away. You’ll be so glad you did.
Here are a few things we’ll need to get started. Almond flour and vanilla beans. You can find vanilla beans either right there with the vanilla, or sometimes they are mixed in with the spices, as was the case with the McCormick vanilla beans. The almond flour is more likely to be found in gourmet supermarkets like Whole Foods. But I got this at Target, and I’ve occasionally seen it in the baking aisle or the organic section of my grocery store. If you can’t find it, you can use raw almonds, without the skin, which you’ll grind up in the food processor.
The second thing you’ll need is a food scale (which I failed to photograph!) so you can weigh your ingredients. Here is the one I have, and I use it every day.
Now the fun begins! Weigh out your almond flour and powdered sugar and add them to the bowl of a food processor. If you’re using whole almonds, grind them into a powder first, then add the sugar.
Okay, now the fun really begins. The vanilla bean. Scraping out the caviar of a vanilla bean is one of the more rewarding experiences in life. And we’re about to do it. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half.
Then turn the knife to the dull side, scrape out the vanilla bean seeds, and add them to the food processor.
Steph grabbed my camera here. That’s me in the background splitting a vanilla bean. I love how it turned out!
Process the flour, sugar and vanilla bean until fully incorporated.
Here are a few more fun things we’ll need! If you’d like to give your macarons some fun color, you’ll need powdered food coloring — no gel, paste or liquid. Michael’s and Hobby Lobby both carry this Wilton Color Dust that I used. We also used Wilton Sparkle Gel to decorate the jack-0-lanterns and spider eyes (Walmart), and red gel food coloring for the eye balls (grocery store).
For chocolate macarons, add 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder. I used Hershey’s Special Dark.
Or for orange macarons, add 1 teaspoon of powdered food coloring. And for white macarons, you don’t have to add anything! Whisk together to combine.
Next you’ll want to sift this combination so it’s completely free of lumps. I know, I know. Break out that sifter!
Macarons start with aged egg whites. Up to five (5) days before making macarons, separate your egg whites, cover them loosely with a paper towel, and keep them in the refrigerator. The night before making macarons, set them out on the counter to come to room temperature. Yes, they’ll be fine. Perfect, even! My egg whites aged for 2 days, one night in the fridge and one night on the counter.
Whisk the egg whites until foamy.
Then add a little sugar, and whisk until you get stiff peaks. When you lift out the whisk, the egg whites should not fold over.
It’ll look about like this. When they’re ready, add the egg whites to the flour.
Now we’re going to fold the egg whites into the flour. Gently stir the batter with a spoon, folding the batter on top of itself until just combined, and there are no more white streaks from the egg whites.
It should look about like this. If you draw a line in the batter with your spoon, it should start to fold back onto itself. Slowly. It takes me about 40 strokes to reach this stage, but don’t go over 50 strokes. The macarons will thank you.
That’s it! It’s all downhill from here! Add the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. I’m using Wilton #2A here, found at Walmart. Pipe the batter into circles on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (not wax paper) and pull straight up. I’m really bad at the precision thing, so I drew circles with a sharpie on the back of my parchment paper to help keep my macarons evenly sized. You’ll want to draw on the curly side of the parchment paper so when you turn it over it’ll lay flat on the pan.
Download my macaron template here.
Tip: Lay your macaron template on the sheet pan, use magnets to hold down the parchment paper, and trace your circles. Remove the magnets and template, then flip the parchment paper over before piping macarons.
When you’re done, give the sheet pans a good solid tap on the table to pop any air bubbles in the batter.
Now the most important part. Let your macarons rest on the pan at least 30 minutes before baking. I try to give mine 45 minutes to an hour. While they rest they’ll form a nice strong skin to keep them from cracking in the oven.
Bake the macarons at 280 degrees F for 15-20 minutes directly in the middle of your oven. It takes exactly 15 minutes in my oven. To test for doneness, pick a not-so-cute macaron you’re willing to sacrifice, if need be. First, gently touch the top to make sure it’s dry. Then gently try to lift the macaron from the parchment paper. If it comes away pretty easily, they’re done! It can stick just a tiny bit — they’ll still need to rest for 10 minutes on the parchment paper before they’ll fully done. But if it’s not coming up and the top breaks away, they need to cook longer. Keep checking on them every two minutes until the bottom is nice and dry, just like the one above.
Now that your macarons are done it’s time to fill them! The secret to this deliciously fluffy buttercream frosting is in the vanilla extract. I highly recommend Tahitian vanilla extract if you can find it. I love using Tahitian vanilla for frosting and other recipes that won’t be cooked. It gives them that beautiful, simple, pure vanilla flavor.
Match up your macaron shells and stuff those babies!
Ready to make some hairy legs for cute spider macs?? Melt some chocolate almond bark in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.
Set up your assembly line…
Dip pretzel sticks into the chocolate and roll them on the sides of the glass to get rid of the excess chocolate — lest your hairy spider legs be clumpy.
Then roll in chocolate sprinkles.
We had so much going on in the kitchen at this point!
For the spider macarons, take a little chocolate buttercream and spread it on the bottom of a macaron shell.
Break off the tips of the pretzels and arrange the spider legs…
By the way, the leftover pieces from the spider legs are a delicious snack.
Add a little more chocolate frosting…
And top with another macaron shell.
Okay, I just could not stand it any longer at this point. Had to try one of these guys!
Now check this out. See that deliciously delicate, sugary crisp shell up at the top? It’s glorious. It’s also nice and strong from our aged egg whites.
Now check out the fluffy, chewy cookie.
And the soft, creamy frosting.
The texture and flavor combination of macarons just blow me away.
There was lots of photo-taking going on in the kitchen.
Macarons are very photogenic.
We couldn’t stop snapping away!
Here’s our little Halloween macaroonies!
Little spider man is my favorite.
Loved our jack-o-lanterns. The sparkle gel was perfect!
And our ghost buster! How cute is this little guy?? Stephanie piped our white macaron batter into these ghostie shapes and they baked up so cute!
We made a few round white macs too. How scary are these eyes topped with an M&M??
I am just in love with these cute little chocolate spiders.
And our spooky jack-o-lanterns. Chomp!
Thanks so much Stephanie for coming over and making macarons with me! It was an absolute blast. Already thinking of ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Make sure you check out Stephanie’s photos and recap
of our day!
Halloween French Macarons
- 90 grams aged egg whites
- 110 grams almond flour
- 200 grams powdered sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 25 grams white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cocoa powder or powdered food coloring (optional)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 teaspoons Tahitian vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
- 2/3 cup (10 tbsp) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Macaron Shells
- Up to 5 days before making macarons, separate the egg whites, cover loosely with a paper towel, and store in the refrigerator. The night before making macarons, set them out on the counter to come to room temperature.
- Place almond flour, powdered sugar, and the contents of a vanilla bean into a food processor and process until fully combined. Move to a large bowl and whisk in one teaspoon of cocoa powder for chocolate macarons, or one teaspoon of powdered food coloring for colored macarons. Leave plain for vanilla macarons. Whisk to combine, then sift and set aside.
- With a mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Add in granulated sugar and continue whisking until the the egg whites have stiff peaks.
- Add the egg whites to the flour and fold to incorporate until the mixture is just smooth, using no more than 50 strokes.
- Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip, and fill with macaron batter. Pipe approximately 1-inch circles onto a baking sheet lined parchment paper.
- Let the batter rest on the pan at least 30 minutes before baking, to form a strong skin to help keep the macarons from cracking in the oven.
- Bake the macarons at 280 degrees F for 15-20 minutes directly in the middle of the oven. To test for doneness, gently touch the top of a macaron to make sure it’s dry. Then gently try to lift the macaron from the parchment paper. If it comes away pretty easily, they’re done. If it doesn’t come up and the top breaks away, they need to cook longer. Keep checking on them every two minutes until the bottom is dry. Once removed from the oven, allow the macarons to rest on the pan for 10 minutes to finish cooking before trying to remove. Cool completely before frosting.
For the Vanilla Buttercream
Place the butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.
For the Chocolate Buttercream
Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Allow to cool for 5-10 mins. Meanwhile, combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined. Add the melted chocolate and process until smooth and creamy.