Cookies, Holiday

Cranberry Macarons

Christmas is getting closer every day and whether you celebrate or not, you’re going to want to add these cranberry macarons to your weekend baking list! Don’t let them scare you any longer, we have all the tips, troubleshooting, and secrets you never knew to make them perfect. Let’s start our Day 8 of our 12 Days of cookies the right way with these cranberry macarons!

These macarons are a basic crisp macaron shell sandwiched with a vanilla buttercream and cranberry jam. One little bite and you get a combo of crisp shells, cranberry, and a sweet buttercream to tie in the whole shabang.

What is the difference between a macaron and a macaroon?

Now, what even is the difference between a macaron and a macaroon? Personally I pronounce them the same, but many people say macaron as ma-kr-aan and macaroon as ma-ka-roon.

A macaron is what you’re seeing above. They are meringue-based cookies that originated in France. Typically filled with icing and sandwiched with two shells.

Macaroons are little coconut cookies made of coconut shreds, sweetened condensed milk, and other toppings. These originated in Italy.

Now that our history lesson is done, time to bake! 😉

Ingredients you need

  • Almond Flour – All macaron recipes use almond flour instead of normal flour because this makes them extra delicate and gives them their signature taste. Bonus: they are gluten-free, so gift to all your gf peeps.
  • Egg whites – Similar to a meringue, these cookies are made of a meringue base with added dry ingredients. The egg whites will help develop the meringue which gets folded into the batter, making them extra light and airy.
  • Sugar – These little cookies still need some sweetness and since we’re making a meringue, you’ll need some sugar. The sugar helps stabilize the meringue. We will also use the sugar in our jam to thicken and make it sweet.
  • Powdered Sugar – There is only a little bit of regular sugar in this recipe because most of the sweetness actually comes from powdered sugar. The powdered sugar will make the shells extra delicate and help to create the signature feet. We will also use some powdered sugar in our buttercream to add some sweetness.
  • Butter – This will get whipped up nice and smooth to create our vanilla buttercream. No butter in the cookie part though.
  • Vanilla Extract – The vanilla gets added to the buttercream for that extra vanilla flavor!
  • Sprinkles & Food Coloring – You could of course not use either of these items but the signature red color makes these macarons extra festive and ties in the theme of cranberry. The sprinkles add another fun touch and texture to the macarons. I used liquid food coloring, but gel works too.
  • Cranberries – For the cranberry jam, you boil it with some sugar and water to create the best jam ever. We actually used this jam for our Linzer cookie recipe a few days ago. Check it out here.
  • Water – The water gets added to the jam to make it gooey and less thick while it cooks.

Yes, that’s the inside of a cranberry! Who would have thought??

How to make cranberry macarons

Macarons may seem a little scary at first and they should be! For any bakers, if you’re experienced or brand new, they are intimidating. Everything from meringue, to almond flour, to folding it right, to baking… the list goes on. With all of our extra tips, directions, and troubleshooting, you should be on your way to a+ macs.

  1. Start by sifting the almond flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. This is a very important step! You don’t want to have lumps of your dry ingredients in the batter because that can mess with how the shells bake.
  2. In another large bowl, whip the egg whites. Whip until light and foamy. I used a hand mixer with a whisk attachment, but you can use a stand mixer.
  3. Next, gradually add the sugar. Scoop one spoonful at a time while mixing the entire time. Whip the egg whites and sugar until and there are stiff peaks and hold their shape. Then, fold in the food coloring with a spatula. Why do we do this? We don’t want to overmix the egg whites so folding the coloring in gives us less chance of doing so.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites and gently fold with a spatula. Fold by scraping the sides and pulling it back through the middle. It will be thick and lumpy at first, but as you continue to fold it will become thinner and smoother. A way to test if the batter is done is the figure 8 test. Pull the spatula out of the batter and draw a figure 8 in the air letting the batter run off the spatula. If you can create a figure 8 without it tearing, stop folding! If it breaks while drawing, continue folding a little more, but be careful not to overmix.
  5. Add the batter to a large piping bag fitted with a circle tip. (You don’t need a tip, but it helps all the macs to be the same size when piped.) Pipe the batter into a small circle (1.5″) on a Silpat or parchment paper about 1″ apart from each other. Piping them on silicone macaron mats will help with consistency a ton. Get some here! Bonus: you can use them for cookies or any non-stick baking, not just macarons.
  6. Once piped, gently bang (is this an oxymoron? 😁) the pan on the counter or ground a few times to bang out the bubbles. If you don’t, the bubbles could expand in the oven and ruin the shape of your shell. You can also use toothpicks to pop the bubbles as they appear.
  7. Add your sprinkles on top for extra fun. Continue steps 4-7 for the rest of your batter.
  8. Let the macarons sit on the cookie sheets for 30-45 minutes. This helps develop a “skin” on top which will pop up in the oven and distinguish it from the feet. Towards the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 300 F. You can tell if the macs are done resting because you’ll be able to feel the top of the macarons without it sticking to your finger. They will be smooth and not as shiny as when you first piped them.
  9. Bake for 17-20 minutes until the macarons have developed their feet and the tops are crisp. The feet of the macarons are the little puffs that appear around the macaron once baked.
  10. Once baked, let cool on the pan for 10-20 minutes. Then, carefully peel the macarons off the paper or silpats. If they seem to be sticking, they need to rest more on the pan.
  11. While the macarons chill, let’s make the jam. Add the cranberries, sugar, and water to a medium pot. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil. Continue to stir.
  12. Once the jam is boiled, cover and let simmer on medium-low for 25-30 minutes. Occasionally stir during this time. The cranberries will pop and thicken as it cooks. Once cooked, pour the jam over a strainer and separate it from the skin and lumps. Set aside to cool.
  13. Once cooked, let the jam cool before adding it to the macs. During this time, we can prepare the buttercream. Add the powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla to a medium bowl. Mix until light, fluffy, and smooth. Add the buttercream to a piping bag with a circle tip. If you don’t have one, you can just use a plastic bag.
  14. Pipe a small ring of buttercream around the edge of a macaron shell, leaving the center open.
  15. Scoop a small amount of jam in the center of the macaron. Add another macaron on top and gently sandwich together. Continue this for all your cranberry macs.

Measuring in the metric system

I don’t know about you but measuring in grams used to make me really nervous until I realized how easy it actually was. I used to be like “The Great British Bake Off makes this look so easy. How do they really know?” Well, turns out you just weigh ingredients and dump them in! Darn imperial system! 😁

For this recipe it does use grams for most of the shell ingredients, but don’t worry it’s so so so easy.

  1. Get a kitchen scale. Turn it on and set the measurement to grams.
  2. Place a small bowl onto the scale and zero it out so it doesn’t count the bowl weight when measuring. To zero the scale just press zero. Most scales have a button labeled on/off/zero; this is what you press.
  3. Next, start to pour your ingredients into the bowl and it will measure as your pour. If it calls for 200 grams, pour enough of the item until the scale says 200 g. If you add too much, just scoop a little out until it’s even.

Seriously, it’s as easy as that! You almost feel like you’re doing a little science experiment!

Best materials to have around

Although macarons don’t require a lot of things, having the right materials will help them substantially to turn out. Here are the best kitchen tools to have around!

  • Sifter (If you don’t have one, you can use a strainer and just tap the edges)
  • Mixer with a whisk attachment – You can use a stand mixer or hand mixer, but it is definitely best to use a whisk attachment because it helps get the most air in the whites compared to regular beaters. If you don’t have a whisk attachment normal beaters will work, but they might take more time to develop and I would increase the speed.
  • Bowls – Having some good large mixing bowls will help with your ingredients.
  • Spatula – Folding your ingredients is one of the most important steps in making macarons. You don’t want to overmix the batter so having more control with the spatula is important.
  • Silicone mats or parchment – Silicone mats definitely are a plus when piping macarons, however, parchment paper will work just as fine, it just doesn’t always stay still.
  • Piping Bags – Although the piping bags aren’t needed, they help the macarons to all be in a similar shape. If they aren’t similar shapes they will not fit together when sandwiching.

How to make perfect macaron shells

In order to make you macarons perfect, you want to keep a few things in mind and never do!

Tips

  • Make sure your egg whites can get stiff peaks. If this step doesn’t happen, your meringue won’t work and the cookie certainly won’t be right.
  • Don’t overmix your batter! Once you pass the figure 8 test, you do not want to keep mixing, if you do, the macs could risk drying out, being hollow, or a number of bad things.
  • Measure your ingredients correctly. This recipe is in grams, but don’t let that stop you from baking, unless you don’t have a kitchen scale, that might be an issue. 😊 Just weigh the ingredients to the right amount and you’ll be in good shape.
  • Make sure to pop those bubbles! If you don’t tap the pan or don’t pop the bubbles with a toothpick, you are going to be in trouble. The macs could get airpockets and ruin the shape once baked. You don’t want to waste all that hard work.
  • Try and get them the same size! For freehand, this can definitely be a little challenging if you’re eyeing it, but using a macaron mat will help you to get them all the same. This may not seem super important, especially if you’re not type A, but it will help when sandwiching them because there’s the same size. Have no fear, you can also print templates on paper, put them beneath your parchment to pipe and then pull out the paper template before baking.

Folding

When you are folding in the dry ingredients you scrape the sides with a spatula, turn it around, and then pull through the middle. This will help to make sure all the ingredients are fully combined.

Folding the batter also gives us more control to not over mix it.

Popping air bubbles

I know I’ve already said it like 10 million times, but popping the air bubbles is very important. I suggest banging the pan several times on a flat surface and popping the bubbles as they appear on top of the macs.

Even if you can’t see the bubbles, they are there. Just giving each one a few pops will save you all your time in the end.

Piping

When you pipe the buttercream, just create a small ring around the edge still leaving room for the jam. Don’t worry if you don’t have a piping bag, a baggie will do just fine.

What are macaron feet?

When the macarons are resting, the tops develop a skin. The skin will separate from the macarons when they’re baking creating the little puff around the edge. These are the feet.

The macarons rise 1/4″ when baking and just in that time, the skin goes on top and the puff stick out.

If you are in a very humid area, it will take more time for the macarons to develop skin.

Baking the macarons

Once the macarons have rested and developed the skin, they are ready to bake!

Place your sheets in the center of the oven, unless the heat from your oven solely comes from the bottom, them place closer to the top.

The macarons don’t change color while they are baking but here is what you want to look for:

  • Developed feet
  • Crisp top

Troubleshooting the macs

There is definitely a long list of things that could go wrong when making macarons. We want the best for your baking and it’s not always easy so here are some extra troubleshooting tips for things that weren’t a+.

  • My macarons are hollow! – There’s nothing worse than spending all that time making your macarons only for an empty bite. The macarons will look full but when cracked, the center is completely open. This is a result of low oven temp, over/under beaten egg whites, or undermixed batter.
  • My macaron shells stuck to the pan! – First, make sure you are using silpats or parchment paper. This will help them to not stick. Also, the macarons will act like they stuck if you try and pull them off the sheet too early after taking them out of the oven. If this is the case, let them sit on the sheet for a few more minutes until they peel off clean. Having them stick to the pan can also mean that your macarons weren’t baked enough.
  • My macs are cracked and puffed! – You didn’t pop enough bubbles. Sometimes the bubbles like to hide from you, so I recommend poking the macs with a toothpick and banging the pan. This is double duty and will prevent the air bubbles from rising and breaking in the oven.
  • My macarons don’t have feet! – This will only happen if you didn’t let your macaron batter rest long enough on the pan. After you pipe the macarons on the cookie sheets, let them sit for 30-45 minutes until you can touch the top and it doesn’t stick to your finger. The tops will also look matte and smooth.

Extra tips to keep in mind

  • Don’t get egg yolk in your whites. This could completely damage the meringue in the long run and you won’t achieve that airy, shiny, meringue.
  • Make sure to sift your dry ingredients! Making sure there are no dry lumps in your batter is key. This could affect how the macarons bake.
  • Pipe the macarons straight up rather than to the side. This will help to keep a consistent size and more control.
  • Make sure you pass the figure 8 test when testing your batter. You want it to ribbon off the spatula without tearing.
  • It may be hard to get perfect macarons on hot, humid days.
  • Don’t peel the macarons off the sheet before they are cooled. If you do, they won’t come in one piece.

Storing Your Cranberry Macs

Yay! You’ve made it this far and now it’s time to store those beauties!

You can store the fully assembled macarons in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-6 days.

Want more of my favorite meringue based recipes, check out my:

Did you make this recipe? Let us know below or on Instagram, @tuesday.treats or use #tuesdaytreats2016

Cranberry Macarons

Recipe by Gillian VolzCourse: Cookies, HolidayCuisine: DessertDifficulty: Advanced
Servings

24

servings
Prep time

1

hour 

15

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes
Total time

1

hour 

50

minutes

Macarons seem scary at first, but the accomplishment, in the end, is well worth it! Not to mention, the cranberry jam in the center of these macs is to-die-for! These cranberry macarons have holiday baking written all over! Happy baking!

Ingredients

  • Macaron Shell
  • 4 egg whites

  • 130 grams almond flour

  • 225 grams powdered sugar

  • 120 grams sugar

  • White nonpareils (sprinkles)

  • Cranberry Jam (aka the bomb)
  • 1 bag cranberries

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 3/4 cup sugar

Directions

  • Macaron Shell
  • Start by sifting the almond flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
  • In another large bowl, whip the egg whites. Whip until light and foamy. I used a hand mixer with a whisk attachment, but you can use a stand mixer.
  • Next, gradually add the sugar. Scoop one spoonful at a time while mixing the entire time. Whip the egg whites and sugar until and there are stiff peaks and hold their shape. Then, fold in the food coloring with a spatula.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites and gently fold with a spatula. Fold by scraping the sides and pulling it back through the middle. It will be thick and lumpy at first, but as you continue to fold it will become thinner and smoother. A way to test if the batter is done is the figure 8 test. Pull the spatula out of the batter and draw a figure 8 in the air letting the batter run off the spatula. If you can create a figure 8 without it tearing, stop folding! If it breaks while drawing, continue folding a little more, but be careful not to over mix.
  • Add the batter to a large piping bag fitted with a circle tip. (You don’t need a tip, but it helps all the macs to be the same size when piped.) Pipe the batter into a small circle (1.5″) on a Silpat or parchment paper about 1″ apart from each other.
  • Once piped, gently bang the pan on the counter or ground a few times to bang out the bubbles. If you don’t, the bubbles could expand in the oven and ruin the shape of your shell. You can also use toothpicks to pop the bubbles as they appear.
  • Add your sprinkles on top for extra fun. Continue steps 6-8 for the rest of your batter.
    Let the macarons sit on the cookie sheets for 30-45 minutes. This helps develop a “skin” on top which will pop up in the oven and distinguish it from the feet. Towards the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 300 F. You can tell if the macs are done resting because you’ll be able to feel the top of the macarons without it sticking to your finger.
  • Bake for 17-20 minutes until the macarons have developed their feet and the tops are crisp. Once baked, let cool on the pan for 10-20 minutes. Then, carefully peel the macarons off the paper or silpats. If they seem to be sticking, they need to rest more on the pan.
  • Cranberry Jam
  • While the macarons chill, let’s make the jam. Add the cranberries, sugar, and water to a medium pot. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil. Continue to stir.
  • Once the jam is boiled, cover and let simmer on medium-low for 25-30 minutes. Occasionally stir during this time. The cranberries will pop and thicken as it cooks. Once cooked, pour the jam over a strainer and separate it from the skin and lumps. Set aside to cool.
  • Vanilla Buttercream
  • Once cooked, let the jam cool before adding it to the macs. During this time, we can prepare the buttercream. Add the powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla to a medium bowl. Mix until light, fluffy, and smooth. Add the buttercream to a piping bag with a circle tip. If you don’t have one, you can just use a plastic bag.
  • Assembly
  • Pipe a small ring of buttercream around the edge of a macaron shell, leaving the center open.
  • Scoop a small amount of jam in the center of the macaron. Add another macaron on top and gently sandwich together. Continue this for all your cranberry macarons.

Notes

  • See all notes above for extra tips on the perfect macarons!

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