Today is the first day of the New Orleans Carnival Season, which ends on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. This year, Mardi Gras is on February 13. Carnival is a time to eat, drink, and be merry before the rigorous fasting and sacrifice during Lent. During this time, I thought that I would challenge myself to post a New Orleans/Mardi Gras themed recipe every day until Mardi Gras, starting with these incredible Mardi Gras Macarons. Laizzez les bons temps rouler with these melt in your mouth macarons filled with a light and airy lemon buttercream.
I went to college in Baton Rouge which is about 80 miles from New Orleans. I’d like to say that I often visited New Orleans during my time in Baton Rouge, but was way too busy with the demands of my coursework to even think of going to New Orleans. Since then, however, I’ve been to New Orleans a number of times.
During one visit to New Orleans, Susan and I went to Sucré. Sucré is an artisan dessert and confection shop located in the French Quarter. For the low-low price of $37.50 one could purchase a box of 15 Mardi Gras Macarons. That’s $2.50 apiece! In honor of the beginning of Carnival season, I decided to try my hand at making my own Mardi Gras Macarons!
Ingredients for Mardi Gras Macarons:
I used the following ingredients for the shells of these festive morsels: Almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and green and purple gel food coloring.
Making the Shells for the Mardi Gras Macarons:
The most time-consuming part of making the macaron shells was sifting together the almond flour and the confectioners’ sugar. The reason that I did this was to ensure that no large bits of almonds end up in the macaron shells.
Next, I turned my attention to the meringue. In the past, I’ve made macarons using Italian meringue. For these macarons, I decided to use French meringue which is much easier to make!
I started by beating the egg whites on high until they were foamy. Then, I added cream of tartar, which stabilizes the egg whites and allows them to maintain their texture when whipped into stiff peaks. It also increases their tolerance to heat. After beating in the cream of tartar, I beat in the granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a time. I continued beating the meringue until stiff peaks formed. Finally, I colored the meringue with some green gel food coloring.
Once the meringue was ready, I sifted in the mixture of almond flour and confectioners’ sugar. Then, I gently folded the mixture together with a spatula. At first, the batter was really thick. However, I continued folding it until it thinned out enough that a small amount dropped into the batter disappeared in about 10 seconds.
One critical thing about making macarons is the consistency of the batter. If it’s too thick, the shells will rise and crack when they’re cooked. If the batter is over-worked and too thin, the shells will not hold their shape, and will spread out and become flat and “feetless”. Anyway, because I was making two-tone macarons I repeated this process to make a purple batter.
Forming the Shells for the Mardi Gras Macarons:
Once the batter was made, I transferred it to a pastry bag fitted with a #12 round tip. I piped 1-½ inch circles onto a silicon mat. To do this, I held the bag in a vertical position to the mat, and counted to six. The silicon mat that I used already had the circles drawn, but I counted anyway! Once I had filled the baking sheet, I tapped it on the counter several times to release any air bubbles in the shells.
Before baking the shells, I needed to let them dry out and form a skin. This took about 30 minutes. I could tell that they were ready to go into the oven when I could lightly touch one without the batter sticking to my finger.
When the shells had formed a skin, I popped them into a preheated 325° F oven for about 12 minutes. I rotated the sheet halfway through the cooking time. The shells were done when I could remove one without the bottom sticking to the silicon mat. I removed the baking sheet from the oven, and let the shells cool for about 15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. I repeated this entire process for the purple shells.
Finishing the Mardi Gras Macarons with Lemon Buttercream:
I used the following ingredients for the lemon buttercream: Unsalted butter, confectioners’ sugar, fresh lemon juice, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt.
I started by beating the butter in a small bowl until it was light and creamy. Then, I added the remaining ingredients and beat the buttercream until it was light and fluffy. This took a minute or so. Finally, I added some yellow gel food coloring and beat the buttercream until the color was evenly distributed.
I transferred the lemon buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a #7 round tip, and piped the buttercream onto one of the green meringue shells. Then, I topped it with a purple meringue shell.
I ended up with around 3 dozen absolutely beautiful and delicious Mardi Gras Macarons. Laizzrez les bons temps rouler and Yum!
Mardi Gras Macarons
Macaron Shells (Note, this makes enough for the green shells; repeat for the purple shells)
- 1 cup almond flour
- ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 to 3 large egg whites 2.5 ounces, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Green and purple gel food coloring
Lemon Buttercream (Note, this is enough to fill all of the macarons from the double recipe)
- 4 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
- 1-½ Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¾ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Yellow gel food coloring
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats; set aside.
- In a medium bowl sift together the almond flour and confectioners' sugar; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat on high to combine. Slowly beat in granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add vanilla extract. Continue beating on high until stiff peaks form.
- Add green food coloring. Beat on high until desired color is achieved.
- Sift almond flour/confectioners' sugar mixture over meringue. Gently fold mixture together. At first, the mixture will be thick, but will thin out as the folding continues. To test for the proper consistency, drop a small amount of the batter and count to 10. The batter is ready if the dropped batter dissolves after 10 seconds.*
- Transfer batter to pastry bag fitted with a #12 or A1 round tip. Pipe 1-½ inch circles on parchment or silicon lined baking sheets, leaving an inch between circles. Tap baking sheets firmly on counter several times to remove any air bubbles. Allow the macaron shells to dry and form a skin for about 30 minutes. To see if the shells are ready to be baked, lightly touch one. If the batter does not stick to your finger, it is ready.
- Bake shells in preheated 325° F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. The macaron shells are done if the bottom does not stick when removed from pan.
- Remove from oven. Allow to cool on the pan for 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat this entire process for the purple macaron shells.
- While the macarons are cooling, prepare the lemon buttercream. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter on high until light and creamy. Add confectioner's sugar, cream, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on high until light and fluffy. Add yellow food coloring; beat until well combined.
- Transfer lemon buttercream to pastry bag fitted with #7 round tip. Pipe buttercream on green macaron shell; top with purple macaron shell.
- Store filled macarons in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The macarons can also be stored in an airtight container in the freezer.
- Yield: 36 Mardi Gras Macarons when the macaron shell recipe is repeated.
- *Note: The consistency of the macaron shell batter is critical. If it's too thick, the macaron shells will crack during baking; if it's too thin, the batter will spread too much and the macaron shells will not develop the characteristic feet.