Birthday Cake Macarons

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(cue music… “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to you!”).

Make a wish!!

Who doesn’t like birthdays?  Cake, ice cream, presents?  Did I mention cake?  What if we could have birthday cake macarons?  The simplicity of a macaron,  colored any color you would like, covered with pretty prinkles, and filled with a delicious buttercream.  That sounds like a celebration to me!!

I made these macarons for a neighbor.  I wasn’t sure what to get her for her birthday, so I figured, why not make her some birthday macs?  She enjoyed the macarons I gave her along with her Christmas cookies, so I decided birthday cake macarons were the way to go.

I used my original macaron recipe and put a little purple gel color in the meringue (in hindsight I would have put more in for a more vibrant purple….next time!).

 

After piping the macs on my silicone pad, I sprinkled them with multi colored sprinkles.  You want to do this before they start to dry and form their shell.

My shells dried for 30 minutes and I baked them for 18 minutes at 300 degrees.  After they were finished baking I allowed them to cool completely.

After matching the tops and bottoms, I filled the bottom shell with American buttercream.  I had some blue buttercream left over from the Pokemon cake I made for my grandsons, so I decided to use it for the filling.  I think it was a nice contrast with the light purple…what do you think?

I’m glad I made these, and if you’re wondering what to give that neighbor, friend, co-worker or maybe a family member, I hope you make a batch of these “birthday cake” macarons.  I can guarantee you;  the recipient will be very happy and thankful you did!!

If you make these, please tag me on Instagram @goodeatsbymimi .  I would love to see your pictures!

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Happy Macaron Monday!

 

Heart Macarons

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and I am excited to share my heart shaped (well, sort of) macarons filled with strawberry Swiss meringue butter cream.

Are you pro or con about this day?  I have always enjoyed this day, but when I had children and grandchildren, it gave it a whole new meaning.  I’ve always loved baking goodies and buying little gifts and trinkets for them.

I taught and worked with children for 29 years (Preschool and Kindergarten age).   It was always fun having Valentine parties, enjoying yummy cupcakes, handing out cards to all their classmates. Making crafts and playing games!  So much fun!!

Speaking of fun, I’d like to share a few fun facts about this romantic day that I found on the internet. You’re welcome!

  • Valentine’s Day is the second largest card giving day of the year, just after Christmas. I love getting homemade cards from my grandchildren.
  • The “box of chocolates” (sorry, I just had a Forrest moment) tradition started by Richard Cadbury in the 19th Century,  jumped at the opportunity to make selling boxes of chocolates as a part of this “sweet” day.  While Valentine’s Day goes back to Roman times, giving candy (conversation hearts, heart shaped boxes of chocolates and truffles) is a more recent development.  More than 36 million heart shaped boxes are sold every year….that’s a LOT of chocolate!!
  • According to Smithsonian, ‘Vinegar Valentines’ (also called penny dreadful) were contradictory to conventional valentines and were used to humorously reject and mock unwanted admirers. You definitely don’t want to get one of those!
  • During the Middle Ages, men would write on their sleeves, the names of the women they would be coupled with in the upcoming year. They would do this while attending a Roman festival honoring Juno. They did this to show their bond during the celebration.  Hence the term “wearing your heart on your sleeve”.
  • ‘Sweethearts’ candies started out as medicine. According to Food Business News, Oliver Chase (a pharmacist and inventor) created a machine that would make throat lozenges quickly.  The machine was later switched to make candy (known as Necco Wafers).  In 1866 his brother came up with the idea to print messages on the candy.  In 1901 they got their heart shape. Appealing to Valentine’s Day Sweethearts.
  • Cupid has two different arrows in his quiver; one (the gold arrow) to cause people to fall in love, and a lead arrow that repels love (or causes one to fall “out” of love.
  • Almost half of yearly marriage proposals will happen on Valentine’s Day and half of women would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day (that’s harsh…ouch!!!).
  • All over the world, over 50 million roses are given on Valentine’s day each year. Red roses are most commonly associated with this day because it was the favorite flower of Venus.  My favorite flower is the daisy and my favorite color is yellow, so if my Valentine wants to woo me, that will happen with daisies (not roses).  Take that Venus!!

With all that being said, I think your Valentine would love to receive these heart-shaped macarons, or you could just make a batch for yourself!

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg whites (100 grams) room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 2 drops pink gel food coloring
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (198 grams)
  • 1 cup finely ground almond flour (96 grams)
  • pinch of kosher salt

Instructions:

Prepare baking sheets with silicone pads or parchment paper.  This is a matter of preference.  I use silicone mats, but I have had success with parchment paper too.

Wipe mixing bowl, whisks and mats (if you’re using them) with white vinegar or lemon juice to be sure there are no traces of oil.  Oil will break your meringue and it won’t mix properly.  Please don’t skip this step!

Measure the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and salt and place in a medium mixing bowl (I like to use a scale when I’m baking.  This ensures a consistent outcome in your baking.  They are very reasonable in price and I highly recommend purchasing one).

I don’t use a food processor to mix the almond flour/confectioners’ sugar mix.  I use a hand sifter, and sift back and forth between two bowls (4-5 times).  Discard any large bits.  This makes for really smooth and shiny shells and an overall beautiful macaron!

After sifting, set aside while mixing the meringue.

Place the egg whites in your mixing bowl that’s been wiped with the vinegar.  Start mixing on a low speed for two minutes or until the eggs start to foam.  Add the cream of tartar and mix for another minute.

Gradually add in the sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Increase the speed of your mixer and mix for 2-3 more minutes.  You can tell when your meringue is ready when you have stiff peaks and you can turn your mixing bowl upside down with nothing falling out.  Add the vanilla and food color and mix until incorporated.  Do not over mix your egg whites as this will cause your shells to crack!

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Meringue before the flour/sugar mixture is added.

 

Add the flour/sugar mixture in 1/3 increments to the meringue.  Gently fold and pull the spatula through the batter.  Do it until no dry ingredients are visible.  Continue to fold and pull the spatula through the center. Start to gently press the batter up the side of your bowl as you continue to fold and mix. Do this until the batter flows slowly off the spatula and you can form a figure eight.

Place batter into a decorating bag with a circle tip.  Pipe hearts on silicone mat about 3/4 inches apart.  If you don’t have a mat with heart templates, you can find templates on the internet.  You can place them under your mat or parchment to use as a guide.  Remove the template before baking.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Allow the macarons to dry for 30-40 minutes.  You should be able to run your finger across the top without it sticking.  A thin shell should form.

After the macarons have dried, place them in the oven and bake for 11 minutes.  They will start getting their “feet” around three minutes in (I love watching this!).  Check to see if the tops move.  If they wiggle, bake at two minute increments until they finish baking.  They usually are finished baking in 16-17 minutes.

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Look at those beautiful feet and smooth tops!

Remove from the oven and allow your macarons to cool completely.  The shells should pop off the mat or parchment.

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I brushed some pink luster dust on the macarons.  It makes them look even prettier (if that’s possible)

 

I filled these macarons with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream.  I used my Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe and added 4 tablespoons of Strawberry Filling.  Allow your macarons to mature for at least 24 hours (I won’t judge if you don’t wait to taste one).

I loved sharing these and I think they would make a wonderful gift for your Valentine, but make sure you save some for yourself!

I hope you make these.  Don’t be intimidated by these treats.  With a little practice, you will be making these little gems with ease.  If you do make them, tag me on Instagram @goodeatsbymimi.  I’d love to see your photos!

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower Taco Shells

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I know what you’re thinking, “cauliflower taco shells, really?!”.  The answer is an emphatic “Yes!!”.  I’m not mocking regular taco shells or tortillas, but trust me when I say these will surely please even the most die hard taco lover out there.

With just a few simple ingredients, you can have a taco shell in no time.  I use a very small amount of Xanthan Gum as a stabilizer, and it helps to prevent the ingredients from seperating.  You will be able to fold the shell without it breaking and falling apart.  I have made these without the Xanthan Gum also.  Adding this ingredient does not change the flavor.  It is merely a matter of preference, both are really really good!! Wow your family on your next Taco Tuesday:)!!

Ingredients:

1 medium cauliflower

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Zest of one lime

2 eggs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon Xanthan gum (optional)

Instructions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut cauliflower into large pieces and place in food processor.  Pulse cauliflower until it resembles couscous.

Place cauliflower in a microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 4 minutes (stir halfway through cooking process).

Put cauliflower in a light cotton towel or cheesecloth.  Be careful because the cauliflower is very hot!  I used rubber gloves while squeezing the water out of the cauliflower.  Squeeze until  you think all the water is out (and then squeeze it some more).

Place cauliflower, and the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Combine just until the ingredients come together.   Scoop mixture onto the baking sheet and press and form into 6 circles (approximately 6 inches in circumference).

Gently press the top of each shell with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Turn the shells over and bake for 7-8 more minutes.

Remove from the oven.  Rest on baking sheet for 2 minutes and place them on a cooling rack.

Shell can be used immediately or you can wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate or they can be frozen and used at a later time.

I made shrimp tacos and drizzled them with avocado yogurt…..Yum!!  You can get really creative.  The sky is the limit!!

I hope you make these.  You will not be disappointed!  If you make them, tag me on Instagram @goodeatsbymimi and show me a picture.  I would love to see your creations!

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Delicious Shrimp Tacos…nobody can eat just one!