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!

 

 

 

 

 

Espresso Salted Caramel Macarons

 

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Happy Macaron Monday friends!!  I’m very excited about these espresso salted caramel macarons!!  I know, I know, I am always excited about macarons, and I’m also excited about sharing them with all of you!

When I posted my lavender strawberry macarons last week, I asked what flavor combinations you would like to see me make and @smalltownlivingusa (follow them on Instagram. You’ll be glad you did!) requested anything mocha or coffee, I immediately got started on making this flavor fusion.  These things are so flippin’ good!!

I start with the macarons.  Although I think you can change the flavor of a macaron by your filling choice, I like to change the flavor of the actual macaron.  I usually do this by tweaking my original recipe.  Blending dehydrated fruits, edible flowers etc. into the flour/confectioners’ sugar mixture, changes the flavor without compromising the texture. It’s important to keep excess moisture out of your batter or it is going to ruin the outcome of your macaron!

With these macarons,  I wanted them to taste like coffee, so I added 2 teaspoons of  King Arthur Flour espresso powder to the almond flour mixture (this is not a paid advertisement, I just really like their product).

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I used my original macaron recipe.  To this I added the espresso powder.  I bake them at 325º degrees (instead of the usual 300º degrees).  The first tray I put in the oven took much longer than the usual 17 minutes. It took 22 minutes and the color was darker than I would have liked, so I raised the temperature to 325º  before baking the second tray.  I baked them for 18 minutes, and they came out just right.  The color and “feet” were perfect.  As I’ve said before, these finicky cookies can be a bit difficult sometimes!

I have found that the macaronage (fancy word for folding process) is very important in the outcome of your macaron.  I have watched many macaron tutorials and recipes and it says to fold the flour mixture into the beaten egg whites until it looks like lava.  Well, that isn’t really a good analogy for me, because I’m not really sure what that looks like.  Fold until your batter is smooth and runs freely from your spatula and forms a figure 8.

I filled these delicious coffee flavored macarons with a whipped chocolate ganache (check out my simple chocolate ganache and whip it until light and fluffy).   I added a teaspoon of espresso powder to enhance the flavor just a bit more!  As if these things weren’t already delectable enough, I spooned a bit of salted caramel into the center (see recipe below).   Did I mention I topped them with a chocolate covered espresso bean?!   Yes friends, this sent these luscious darlings right over the top….oh my!!

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Whipped chocolate ganache dam filled with delicious salted caramel!
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This is optional, but I dusted mine with espresso powder.

These marvelous bites of mocha deliciousness need to be in your macaron arsenal.  I think they are my new favorite (why am I so darned fickle?!!).

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YUM!!! That’s all I have to say about that 🙂

Ganache Recipe:

  • 8 oz. (227 grams) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Instructions:

Heat heavy cream on stove until just before boiling.  Pour over chocolate and let it sit for about three minutes.

Whisk together until ganache comes together and becomes smooth.  Cool to piping consistency.  Beat with mixer until light and fluffy…yum!

Salted Caramel Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • 1/4 cup water (60 grams)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (55 grams)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (115 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoons extra fine sea salt

Instructions:

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan heat the sugar and water together on high until the sugar has dissolved and water starts to boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil continue stirring until it becomes a deep amber color.  Be careful to watch closely so that it doesn’t burn (you can’t save it once it burns and you will have to start over….ugh!!!!).

Once it reaches a dark amber color, carefully add the butter and salt.  Be careful because it is going to bubble up.  Whisk until the butter has melted and is fully combined.  Return it to a boil and add the heavy cream (being careful because it is going to bubble up again!).

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Remove from heat, stir until completely incorporated and transfer to a glass jar.  Allow caramel to cool to room temperature. This recipe makes about one cup of caramel.

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You can use it to fill your macarons at this point.  Store any unused caramel covered in the refrigerator for up to a month (trust me, it is NOT going to last that long!).  This stuff is so good on ice cream, brownies, cupcakes and as a cake filling.  The possibilities are endless!!

If you make these incredible macarons,  tag me on Instagram @goodeatsbymimi .  I’d love to see your pictures and hear what you think!!  Enjoy and Happy Macaron Monday!! Give someone a compliment today or share a random act of kindness (maybe one of these macarons…wink wink).

God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brownie Macarons

 

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Happy Macaron Monday!! That’s a thing, right? Well, if it’s isn’t, it should be! All of my chocolate loving friends know what I’m talking about.  Now, let’s talk about these amazingly delicious brownie macarons!!  YUM!!

I’ve made chocolate macarons before, but these macarons are, well, the best!! I baked these on a silicon mat, and I think it really makes a difference in the chewy texture.  I tweaked my original recipe, by switching out the cocoa for some of the confectioners’ sugar, and I increased the amount of granulated sugar from ¼ cup to 1/3 cup.   I was pleasantly surprised and happy with the outcome.

As  I was folding the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and cocoa mixture into the meringue, it felt a bit thicker than usual, but I continued until it was completely combined and the consistency seemed right.  Folding until the mixture falls from the spatula into a figure eight works for me every time.  Be careful not to over mix the batter, as this will result in a hollow macaron or possibly even a cracked macaron with no feet!  Let’s face it, nobody wants that (insert winky face here)!

As I mentioned in my last post about macarons, I was struggling with my piping skills. Some were too big, some too small, and some (what I thought) just right.  I purchased silicon mats with premade circles on them.  Yes!! These things were a deal changer!

I let them dry for almost an hour. I was able to gently run my finger across the top without it being wet or tacky.  I only bake one sheet at a time on a rack placed in middle of the oven.  I don’t turn my pans in the baking process.  Bake the macarons for 17 minutes.  I suggest that you place an oven thermometer in your oven to make sure the temperature isn’t off.  If you don’t have one, they can be purchased for under $10.00.  Trust me, it will be money well spent.  A whole batch of macarons can be ruined if your oven temp is off!

Remove the macarons after they have baked for 17 minutes.  You can add a couple of minutes to the time if they don’t look like they are done.  You don’t want to underbake your macarons.  The texture will be off and they will stick to the baking surface!

As these macarons cool, the tops get a slight “crust” making them look like a brownie.  This isn’t the norm for macarons, but don’t panic (I did the first time I made these), this is the way they are supposed to look.  They almost look underbaked, but they are not. Let them cool completely on the baking sheets. They should pop off the baking surface at this time.

Match your macarons so their top and bottom match.  I don’t know why, but this is one of my favorite parts (go figure).

Now you get to fill them with your favorite filling (jams, curds, buttercreams, ganache). The sky’s the limit!! I filled these with a simple 3 ingredient chocolate ganache. I highly recommend this as the filling for these macarons!! It really adds to the brownie flavor. I dusted these with a little cocoa powder to give even more chocolate flavor.  Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as too much chocolate!

I hope you make these, and I hope my pictures and tutorials are helpful! Let me know if you do and post pictures and tag my Instagram page @goodeatsbymimi .

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg whites (100 grams) room temprature
  • 1/3 cup extra fine granulated sugar (66 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure chocolate extract (use pure vanilla if you don’t have chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (171 grams)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (25 grams) plus extra for dusting on top of macaron
  • 1 cup almond flour (98 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine kosher salt

Instructions:

Wipe down mixing bowl, whisk beater, and baking mats with lemon juice or white vinegar. This removes any  residue that will cause the meringue to not properly mix. Set aside until you are ready to pipe your macarons.

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees  (use thermometer to make sure your oven isn’t running too hot or cool).

Place the confectioners’ sugar, baking cocoa and almond flour in a bowl.  Sift these four times. I use two bowls for this process, sifting back and forth between the two bowls. This is a very important step. It not only incorporates the ingredients, it also gets out any lumps, making for a very smooth macaron.

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Place egg whites and cream of tartar (use a pinch of salt if you don’t have cream of tartar…this helps to stabilize the meringue) in a large mixing bowl.

Using a whisk attachment, start beating the egg whites on medium speed until light and frothy.  Add the extra fine sugar a little at a time, allowing the sugar to slowly incorporate into the egg whites.  Begin mixing on medium/high until peaks begin to form being careful not to overbeat.  You want the meringue to be stiff enough to withstand turning the bowl upside down without falling out (check out my picture).

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Fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture in thirds.  Gently folding after each addition, making sure not to over mix.  Mix just until the batter falls off the spatula and you can smoothly form a figure 8.

Place batter in a large piping bag with a medium circle tip (I use a Wilton tip #12).  Pipe 1 1/2 inch circles (3/4 inches apart).

Drop baking sheet on the counter (4-5 times).  This knocks the air bubbles out of the macarons.  Use a toothpick to pop any remaining bubbles.

Dry the macarons for at least 30 minutes (this depends on the humidity in your area). This gives it a thin shell. You should be able to gently run your finger across the top without it leaving a mark.

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Bake for 17 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Match tops and bottoms.  Fill with delicious chocolate ganache (see recipe below).  Pipe a small dollop in the middle of the bottom macaron and top with matching macaron. Dust tops with cocoa powder.  This is optional, but it really enhances the flavor!  Refrigerate overnight (of course I never wait that long to taste one).  Enjoy!!

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Ganache Recipe:

8 oz. (227 grams) semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Instructions:

Heat heavy cream on stove until just before boiling.  Pour over chocolate and let it sit for about three minutes.

Whisk together until ganache comes together and becomes smooth.  Cool to piping consistency.

 

 

 

 

Macarons

 

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A few years ago I tried my hand at Macarons for the first time. I watched tutorials and YouTube videos.  Quite frankly,  I was scared me to attempt these tricky cookies, but I was also very determined.  I had never even eaten a macaron up until this point,  but  I was hosting a baby “sprinkle” for my daughter and I wanted these persnickety little gems gracing the dessert table that day.

Every single video and tutorial was telling me that these cookies do NOT like humidity. Well, I live in South Jersey (like, as far South as you can go before landing in the water!), and we have a ton of humidity around here in the summer.  Did I forget to mention the sprinkle was in June?!!  Well, that wasn’t going stop me.  Macarons can be made ahead of time. They keep really well in the freezer.  I freeze mine unfilled in airtight containers.  I remove them from the freezer the day before I plan to serve them.  Let them come to room temperature before filling them. After  filling them, place them in the refrigerator overnight so they can mature (or bloom).   This allows the flavors to develop, and if you overcook your macarons, it softens them right up!

I would like to share some tips that have helped me make uniform, delicious macaroons. They are a tricky cookie to make, but once you get the hang of making them, you will be happy that you have them in your cookie arsenal.  I love making them for friends as presents or just letting them show up on a special dessert table every now and then.

  1. You don’t need to “age” your egg whites. Just use egg whites that are at room temperature. You can help this process by putting eggs right from the refrigerator in warm water for about 15 minutes.
  2. I use cream of tartar in my egg whites to stabilize them.   This will make your meringue results consistent every time. You don’t want to overbeat your egg whites. You want a stiff meringue, but not too dry. This can result in your meringue deflating, causing a hollow shell.
  3. Using a kitchen scale to measure ingredients will help with consistency in your baking also. If you don’t have one I highly recommend you invest in one PRONTO!!
  4. Sift the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and salt 4-5 times. This makes for a really smooth macaron. Please don’t skip this step…you’ll thank me laterJ.
  5. Don’t over mix your batter. Stop mixing once it reaches the ribbon stage and you can make a figure eight while lifting your batter with a spatula (refer to video).  The batter should be slow flowing and thick. Over mixing will cause cracks on the top, spreading, and no feet. It’s better to under mix than to over mix your batter.
  6. You need to allow your macarons to dry. I allow mine to dry for 30-60 minutes. The longer, the better. You will know it is dry once you can run your finger across the top of your cookie, and if the skin is dry, your macarons are ready. This step is VERY important and neglecting to do so will result in cracked macarons. The top needs to form a skin. If the skin isn’t thick enough, the air from the meringue will expand in the oven causing cracks to form on top, instead of forming feet.
  7. Everybody’s oven is different, but I like to bake my macarons in a 300 degree oven for 17-19 minutes. It is better to over bake than under bake your macarons. If they are under baked, the feet will stick to the parchment paper (or silicone pad) and the shell will peel away from the feet. If they are over baked they will be hard and crunchy, but they will become soft once you fill them and refrigerate (mature) them for 24 hours.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (198 grams)
  • 1 cup finely ground almond flour (96 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ( or flavoring of choice)
  • gel food coloring

Buttercream Filling

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (226 grams)
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar  (340 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk (46 grams)

Instructions:

Line baking pans with parchment paper or silicone mats.  Wipe bowl down you will be mixing egg whites in with lemon juice so they are totally grease free (this helps the egg whites to whip properly).

Put the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and salt in a bowl.  Sift 4-5 times to make sure this mixture is lump free.  This is going to make for a smooth macaron.  Trust me, you do not want to skip this step! It really makes for a bit of “Wow” factor.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the mixing bowl that you wiped down with lemon juice. Mix until soft peaks form and then gradually add  the granulated sugar until it is completely incorporated and you have stiff (but not dry).  You know you have achieved this if you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue does not fall out.  Add your flavoring and food coloring and mix until incorporated.

Gently fold the confectioners’ sugar/almond flour mixture into the meringue mixture 1/3 at a time.  Continue to fold until the batter falls into ribbons and you can make the figure 8 (see video).

Place the batter in a decorating bag with a large circle tip and pipe 1 1/2 inch circles on the prepared baking pans.  The macarons should be at least 3/4″ apart.  “Drop” the baking sheets on a hard, flat surface at least five times to remove any air bubbles.  I pop any visible air bubbles with a toothpick.

At this point the macarons need to dry for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.  This will allow a good skin to form on top. While they are drying, preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Bake for 17-19 minutes.  You should have good feet and the macarons should be dry.  Remove the macarons and allow them completely cool on the baking sheets.  The macarons will release easily at this point.

Make buttercream filling by placing the butter in a mixing bowl and beating until light and fluffy (about two minutes).  Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and milk and beat until fully incorporated.  Place in piping bag and add a medium size dollop in the center of one of the macarons and top with another macaron to make a “sandwich”.  Repeat with the remaining shells.

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Place your macarons in an airtight container.  If you can wait (that’s a big “IF”), allow your macarons to set for 24 hours so they can bloom.  This will not be an easy task, but trust me, it makes a difference.

These little gems make a great gift or special dessert.  They are going to go fast!!  Enjoy!!