As I was planning my annual Christmas cookie platter for our family get together, I wanted to make sure to include two things this year: something distinctly Norwegian (you can check out those cookies here) and something distinctly American. Last year, I’d made a batch of homemade eggnog for my husband, who’d never had it before. The verdicts still out on whether or not he actually liked it (an acquired taste, maybe?), but he definitely said it was unlike anything he’d had before. As an American, I simply can’t imagine a Christmas without eggnog, so I decided to make it my distinctly American goody for my cookie platter.
Yields about 20 macarons
For the macaron shells:
4 tbsp. egg white powder + 1/2 cup warm water OR 4 egg whites + 1 tbsp. egg white powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (packed) almond flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the eggnog filling:
3 egg yolks + 3 egg whites
1/3 granulated sugar + 1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. meringue powder/cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Start by preheating your oven to 200* Fahrenheit (95* Celsius). In a large bowl (or a stand mixer if you have one), beat together your egg white powder and water, OR the eggs whites and egg white powder. I’ve tried both and I feel like the shells come out very similar so I usually just use whatever I have on hand. Beat until frothy. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form (about 6-8 minutes).
If you want very smooth macaron shells, pulse your almond flour for 2-3 second intervals in a food processor. My food processor had a slight meltdown, so I’m currently without one, but the macarons taste every bit as good (just a little less smooth on top)! Stir the almond flour and powdered sugar together, and gently fold them into the meringue with a spatula. Be careful not to overmix as this can cause your macarons to crack during baking. Spoon the meringue mixture into a piping bag with a large, round tip and pipe the macarons onto a parchment lined baking sheet. When piping macarons, it’s a good idea to have a template so that they’re all more or less the same size. For an easy, free template you can print out, Les Petits Macarons. Once your shells are piped, lift the baking sheet about 6″ from your counter, and bring it down a couple of times to bring the air bubbles to the top. Important note: only pipe as many baking sheets as you can bake at a time (for my tiny oven: one). I know our natural instinct is just to pipe everything in one go, but macaron batter will dry out very easily when exposed to air, which can cause a lot of cracking when they bake. So just pipe what you can bake, fold the large, open end of the piping bag under (so the batter doesn’t all flow out the back), and set it upright in a cup while you bake.
For average size macarons, bake them at 200* Fahrenheit (95* Celsius) for about 15 minutes, then crank the heat up to 350* Fahrenheit (175* Celsius) and allow them to bake for another 9-11 minutes, or until you can pull them from the parchment paper without any sticking. Be sure to watch them carefully as they take very little time to go from nicely baked to black and charred (yeah, that’s past experience speaking…). Also be sure to let your oven cool back down to 200* Fahrenheit (95* Celsius) before putting the next batch in.
While the shells cool, you can whip up your eggnog filling. This filling is very pudding like, so it’ll need some time (about an hour or two) to firm up in the refrigerator before you can pipe it. In a medium size sauce pan, bring your heavy cream to a near boil. While the cream is heating, whip your egg whites to a soft peak, add 1 tsp. granulated sugar and 1 tsp. meringue powder/cream of tartar, and whip to a stiff peak. In a medium-size bowl, whip the egg yolks until they become smooth and lighten in color. Add the 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch to the egg yolks, and whip until the both dissolve. At this point, the heavy cream should be ready. Pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, stir, and return the mixture to the pan. Continue heating until the mixture thickens (about 5-8 minutes). Once the mixtures has completely thickened, add the ground nutmeg and whisk in the stiff egg whites. Allow the filling to chill in the refrigerator until it stiffens to a pudding consistency (about an hour or two). Spoon the filling into a piping bag with a large, round tip, and pipe onto half of the macaron shells. Top the meringue shells with one of the empty shells, and set aside. Because the filling requires refrigeration but the shells do not, it’s best to put these together right before serving.
Happy baking and Merry Christmas!