Birthday Cake Macarons

Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

It’s my birthday this week! To celebrate, I made some two-tone vanilla macarons with rainbow sprinkles. I used Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract and I think they taste just like french vanilla ice cream.

Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

Ingredients

for the macaron shells

  • ¾ cup ground almonds (as finely ground as you can find)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pink gel food colouring
  • rainbow sprinkles

for the filling

  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • ¼tsp vanilla
  • rainbow sprinkles

Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

Method

for the macaron shells

  1. Prepare your parchment sheets by drawing 1″ circles, ½” apart across the entire sheet (or using silicon baking mats with the circles already printed on them) and placing them on a large flat surface suitable for drying your batter, like a dining table. You will need 2-3 half sheet pan size pieces.
  2. Sift ground almond and icing sugar together, twice. Set aside.
  3. In a large stainless steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a hand or stand mixer on high speed until you have a foam with no liquid remaining.
  4. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat the egg whites. Beat on high speed until the egg whites reach stiff peaks. You’ve made meringue!
  5. Add your vanilla now and beat in.
  6. Fold your almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue in two parts.
  7. Here’s the part that takes practice: it’s time for the macaronnage! With a spatula, spread the batter, with some force, against the side of the bowl. Then scoop it up by running the spatula along the side of the bowl again and try to flip it all over and sort-of lightly smack it back into the bottom of the bowl. Gather the batter up again and repeat 12-15 times. It takes some time to figure out the best way to do this, don’t be afraid to play around with it. When doing the macaronnage correctly, repeating more than 20 times can result in oily, blotchy macarons, but I’ve found that doing it incorrectly doesn’t count towards this limit. If you are doing it right, the batter will take on a noticeable and somewhat sudden change in consistency, this means you are about half-way to that limit. When finished, the batter should be thickened and drip slowly and smoothly from the spatula. You will have to pipe it onto your baking sheets/mats and it won’t work if the batter is too runny. This is the technique that defines macarons, this is what makes mastery of them impressive.
  8. Add food colouring to half of your batter and gently stir in.
  9. For perfectly round macarons, use a large, 0.4″ plain tip with a pastry bag, or do it the lazy way and cut a corner off a zip top bag for mostly round macarons. Twist (or don’t yet cut) the bag at the tip and place it, tip side down, in a tall glass. Fill with your batter and twist, close or clip the other end to help keep the messy batter moving in the right direction. Pipe the batter into the centre of the circles on your sheets/mats and stop before reaching the edges as the batter will spread out a bit.
  10. Once finished piping, carefully pick the sheets/mats up and drop them back on to the table from a height of a couple of inches. The theory is that this helps the cookies keep their round shape and form the little bubbles around the bottom (the pied) when you put them in the oven.
  11. Add sprinkles to the tops of half of your shells.
  12. Leave the cookies on the table, uncovered, to dry – this could take 20-30 minutes on a dry day or a couple of hours on a humid day. You will know the macarons are dry when they look smooth, less glossy and are no longer sticky to the touch.
  13. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place an oven rack in the centre of your oven. Place a sheet of macarons on two stacked sheet pans (this will stop the bottoms from getting too hot, resulting in cracked macarons) and bake for 15-18 minutes. Rotate the pan half way through baking. It can be hard to tell when the macaron are done. I pull them out when the kitchen smells sweet and the cookies look crisp, have just started to brown, and don’t look blotchy in the middle.
  14. As soon as the parchment sheet/baking mat is cool enough to handle, take it out of the pan with all the cookies on top and place it on a cooling rack. The macarons will be too sticky to remove from the sheet/mat now; once cooled, they should peel off easily. I usually wait a few minutes for the pans to cool a bit and for the oven to come back to a steady temperature before moving the next sheet to the pans and baking the next round.

for the buttercream

  1. Warm the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave until it is soft but not melted and beat until creamy.
  2. Break an egg into a large heat-resistant mixing bowl and beat lightly with a hand mixer. Set aside.
  3. Add water and sugar to a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until you can draw a line of bare pan without the liquid immediately covering it back up, about 7 minutes. You’ve made simple syrup!
  4. Slowly pour your simple syrup into the beaten egg while beating with a hand mixer on as high a speed as you can without flinging syrup everywhere, remember it is very hot and sticky. Once all the syrup is in, beat the mixture on high speed, slowly reducing speed until it is thick, light in colour and the bowl is no longer hot.
  5. Add the butter to this mixture in two or three parts and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated and creamy. If the buttercream splits and continuing to beat doesn’t bring it back together, it has likely become too cold. Pop it in the warm oven or over a double boiler for 10 seconds and try beating it again. Continue doing this until it comes together.
  6. Add the vanilla and beat in.
  7. Mix in sprinkles.

Once everything has cooled, place your buttercream in a piping (or zip-top) bag and pipe onto half of your shells. Then place another similarly sized shell on top and gently press them together. Roll some of your completed cookies in more sprinkles for a more festive look. You’ve made macarons!

Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Birthday Cake Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.

Team No Fun

Team No Fun | Sophster-Toaster

My newest hand silk screened t-shirt is the Team No Fun tee! A sporty baseball tee in black and heather charcoal, this new shirt is inspired by roller derby NSO’s (non-skating officials), who wear dark colours and aren’t allowed to cheer or “have fun” while performing the essential tasks that run our games.

Having performed just some of the many things these officials do, I know how hard it is. They track players, penalties and stats, run the penalty box, time jams and periods, keep score, and keep everyone organized, all while blending into the background. We couldn’t skate without them; it’s a very important job and, in our league, these people are all volunteers! They are so crucial to our sport and community, that they form their own team: Team No Fun.

Team No Fun | Sophster-Toaster Team No Fun | Sophster-Toaster Team No Fun | Sophster-Toaster

Tee Sophster-Toaster
Glasses Warby Parker
Shoes Keds

Team No Fun | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.

Want to see what it takes to be an NSO, or just catch one of our bouts? Find our schedule here.

Valentine’s Wishlist

I hope you like these products as much as I do! Just so you know, I may collect a commission or other compensation from the links provided on this page.

1. A bright pink 1960’s chiffon and velvet party dress to wear on date night.

Coldfish Vintage

2. Crushed velvet knickers to feel cozy and cute in on those long winter evenings at home.

Jordan de Ruiter

3. A charming and festive tiny heart necklace (available in three colour and length options).

Emery + Opal

4. Glamorous cat eye sunglasses in pink tortoise shell to keep the snow glare, and admirers, at bay. 

Warby Parker

5. An extravagant vintage style bra to make cardigan weather feel a little more fun.

What Katie Did

All photos courtesy of retailers.

Playing Cameras

Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster

Sometime, over last spring and summer, we started referring to what I do when I grab a camera and start messing around with it as “playing cameras”. When I’m feeling bored or restless, I have a habit of picking up a camera and wandering around; I bother pets, play with the different settings on my cameras, annoy unwitting models, try to sneak up on new angles, painstakingly craft composition, shoot from the hip, and generally experiment to see if I get anything interesting. I started doing it so much, and with so little warning to the people around me, that it got a name.

Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster

I used to think, when I first started taking self portraits, that what I was doing wasn’t real, or legitimate, or of any value unless I did it a certain way. I thought I had to set up my tripod, ready my timer or remote shutter release, and stand on my mark to be a photographer. I convinced myself that if I had any skill, I could do it blind; that using the “live view” feature on my DSLR was cheating. I don’t think I could explain that clearly to myself now if I tried all day.

Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster

Now, I set up my camera, dial in the settings that I want, flip the screen around and switch it on – so I can actually see what I’m doing – pick up my remote shutter release and start messing around. On this frigid, windy, ice-encased, day after a storm in January, I played cameras indoors in the winter sunshine and learned more about light and shadow.

Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster

Sweater ModCloth (different colour)
Glasses Warby Parker 
Dainty Ring Blue Ridge Notions

All photos by me.