I’ve never celebrated Easter, but I could smell its arrival from a mile away. I think it was the goodies on my desk that gave it away, a pile of egg shaped chocolates and pastel rainbows of blue, pink and yellow, which grew larger and larger as the week passed by. By Thursday afternoon, every file on my desk was covered with a light dusting of chocolate, and I knew it was time for me to satisfy my sweet tooth and get in on the fun. And since Easter is all about egg-loving, I had an idea up my sleeve.
They’re not coated in chocolate, but Ontario eggs are definitely something to celebrate. The province produces almost 40% of Canada’s egg supply, with over 200 poultry and egg farmers located directly in the Greenbelt; Hamilton, Niagara and Durham are the big three. Eggs are the quintessential baking ingredient, making an appearance in almost all my favourite dishes, which - if you hadn’t noticed yet - happen to be desserts. I feel lucky to have farm-fresh eggs so close to home, and I thought I’d celebrate the egg with another sweet treat, a cookie made of egg-white meringues and a delicious filling.
French macarons are not to be confused with two O’d macaroons, those little mounds of coconut and chocolate drizzle so synonymous with Passover. The macaron is all about celebrating the egg. In fact, the cookie is mostly egg whites, and without them - well - you wouldn’t have a cookie. If you’re into reading food blogs, then you’re surely aware of the macaron’s reputation as the queen of cookies, a melt-in-your-mouth sugar cloud nearly impossible to perfect, attempted by and sought after by every other chef in the cyber-world. Once again, I’ve chosen one of the most finicky food items to prepare. But when these delights are done right, you’ll be patting yourself on the back and craving to share photos of your successes with all your Facebook friends. In fact, we’d love to see your pictures! Post them on our Facebook page or shoot us a line, anytime at [email protected]!
Easter Egg Macarons
3 egg whites (room-temperature)
1 cup icing sugar
½ cup ground almonds
5 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup filling of choice (jam, buttercream, honey, etc.)
Every macaron recipe is slightly different, which is why it’s so hard to tell how to get the “perfect” cookie. Most suggest leaving the egg whites out of the fridge for approximately 24 hours to “age”.
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
2. In a bowl, sift the icing sugar and ground almond together.
3. In a separate bowl, use an electric beater on high power, to beat the egg whites. As you beat, slowly add in the granulated sugar. Keep beating until the egg whites form stiff peaks, add then gently mix in the vanilla, and a couple of drops of food colouring in your preferred colour.
4. Using a rubber spatula, mix in dry ingredients. TIP: Be extremely gentle in mixing your batter - if you over-mix the egg whites, the cookies won’t turn out right!
5. Spoon your mixture into a piping bag with a plain tip.
6. On a piece of parchment paper (or a silicon baking mat), pipe an even number of circles of batter, about 1 inch diameter. Make sure to leave some space between the circles, as they will spread a bit.
7. Let the wet circles dry on the baking sheet for approximately 15 minutes. TIP: Some recipes omit this step, while others insist that this is necessary in order to get the “feet” on the cookies, the little frills of egg white that roll out the bottom of each perfect half (note: mine in the picture aren’t the best example of this!).
8. Place the cookies on a center rack of the oven, and bake for approximately 15 minutes, checking back frequently to ensure they don’t burn or crack.
9. Remove from oven, allow them to completely cool.
10. Using your filling (I chose a nice strawberry jam I had), smear a bit on the flat side of one macaron half, then sandwich it with another flat-sided macaron half. Repeat this step until you have a whole tray full of macaron sandwiches!