saturday morning breakfast cereal macarons
Is summer over yet?! Ha! I am so ready for fall. While I impatiently await falling leaves, apples and chunky knit sweaters, Erin and I are having a little bit of fun with our macaron-of-the-month collab this month! We were tossing ideas around for August and came upon cereal as the key idea. Cereal makes me think of quick, before-school breakfasts—can you even call boxed cereal a true breakfast? That’s def open for debates! And with it being August, I felt this was the perfect pre-first day of school kinda vibe to suit this month's macaron collab!
We knew it couldn’t just be one cereal, so we decided on three flavors that mean something to us. Erin didn’t grow up with any of the three we used but has extreme fondness for Lucky Charms from her travels to the USA in your youth. The moment her family would land and enter a grocery store, they were always her first go-to. From there, we went with classic Frosted Flakes 'cause why not? They are just delish! I suggested Trix, as they are a classic from my childhood. TBH, every cereal is a classic from my childhood as my family were (and still are) avid cereal eaters! We tended to select what was on sale, because we liked them all. Coupons were our best friends, HA!
We went with a German buttercream and infused the milk for the pastry cream base with cereal to create “cereal milk" — because the best part of eating a bowl of cereal is slurping up that sweet AF milk! One of the reasons I love German buttercream so much is that it's very easily transformative. You can infuse the milk with virtually anything, so your options are infinite.
We also wanted these macarons to have many different appearances so we alternated the shell colors; some have crushed cereal on the sells, and there's all different piping tips. We thought this would be a great way to create versatile nostalgia. It’s really set up for you to take on any cereal that sparks joy in your life or one that brings back a fond childhood memory.
As always, most of the components may be made ahead of time, which will make for an even easier baking day. Also, please check out my Good to Knows, where I have consolidated a bunch of tips for perfecting this particular recipe, as well as baking macarons in general. Now you have a reason to eat macarons for breakfast!
…Good to Knows…
To save space and prevent you from scrolling for hours, I've compiled a section for all my macaron notes from my kitchen journal here! I'll keep this list updated and current as I discover new ideas, tricks and/or tips.
When it comes to the cereals, this is completely up to your liking. These are meant to be our favorite cereal vibes, so customize the recipe and buttercream to your liking. Be creative and have fun!! If you do bake these, I’d love to share in the moment with you. Tag me on instagram @foxandcrane and use my hashtag #foxandcrane so I may see your macaron adventures.
Erin also discovered an amazing parchment. It's seriously macaron magic paper. We haven't had any macarons stick since. You can order this non-stick parchment paper on amazon.
Since we are in the beginning of summer, please be aware that humidity create moist air that can slow down the drying of the macaron shells. Erin and I are very cautious of how weather affects the drying times and bakes of the shells. Shells can become over-dried in a split second. With this summer already being exceptionally humid for us, our drying times have been doubled. So be cautious of this if you haven’t baked macarons in a few months. If your home is on the warmer/humid side, I suggest you turn on your AC while you’re in the drying process.
saturday morning breakfast cereal macarons
Simply choose a flavor followed by the corresponding alterations.
Frosted Flakes Cereal Macarons: For shells, crush cereal and sprinkle shells after piping and before the drying process.
Trix Cereal Macarons: For shells, color with deep pink gel food coloring. Crush cereal and sprinkle some shells after piping and before the drying process. For buttercream, enhance color with deep pink gel food coloring if desired. Finish some macarons with crushed cereal on buttercream after being sandwiched.
Lucky Charms Cereal Macarons: For shells, color with mint green or avocado green gel food coloring. For buttercream, enhance color with mint green or avocado green gel food coloring if desired.
…makes around 24 sandwich cookies…
170g ground almond flour
300g powdered sugar
180g large brown egg whites (about 5-6 large brown eggs), at room temperature
160g granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or the seeds from one vanilla bean pod
optional: crushed cereal of your choice
400ml whole milk
75g breakfast cereal - your choice of lucky charms, frosted flakes, or trix
Cereal Milk German Buttercream
190g cereal milk
50g (1/2c) granulated white sugar
12g (1 1/2 tbsp) corn starch
1 large brown egg
1 large brown egg yolk
just a pinch of salt
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, extract, or the seeds from one vanilla bean pod
339g (1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
In an air-tight container, add cereal (of choice) and pour milk over cereal, stir to combine. Allow cereal/milk mixture to infuse at room temperature for one hour, stirring frequently. This will allow the flavors of the cereal to infuse into the milk, thus creating cereal milk! Strain the mixture twice, to ensure all cereal bits are removed—preventing a grainy buttercream. Weigh out 190g of cereal milk and set aside.
Cereal Milk German Buttercream
In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the cereal milk and vanilla until they are just moments from simmering. (You're looking for those wisps of seam but no bubbles.) Remove milk mixture from the heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, whole egg, egg yolks and salt until combined.
Now continue whisking with one hand and pour just a bit (about a half cup or so) of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture so that you are tempering the eggs. You do not want to cook them - they will turn to scrambled eggs! Then, while still whisking, add half of the milk mixture and whisk until it's combined, followed by the remaining portion of milk. Once everything is combined, pour the milk/egg mixture back into the medium saucepan.
Now heat the milk/egg mixture over medium heat, again constantly whisking, until it begins to bubble. You do not want it to boil so do not look away. This thickens quickly. Once it has thickened and can coat the back of a spoon, cook for just one minute more. Remove from the heat and pour into a container or mixing bowl and press plastic wrap over the surface. This is a must so that you avoid a think skin from forming and altering the texture.
Place into the refrigerator until cold—a minimum of four hours, or for best results, overnight.
When your macaron shells are ready for filling, place your whisk attachment on your mixer. Press the cool pastry cream through a sieve in order to remove any bits of cooked egg. Add this to your mixer bowl. Slowly add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, the custard on medium speed until everything has been added and your buttercream looks creamy, fluffy and lump-free.
Transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a large round ateco #805 tip.
Cut four sheets of light colored parchment paper to fit your baking sheets. Draw 1.5 inch (3.81cm) circles on one sheet of your pre-cut parchment paper to be used as your template guide for piping evenly shaped macarons, spacing them at least ¾ -1 inch apart and about 2 inch from the edge of the pan.
To save you time, here is a printable template. Note: This templet is 8x11. You will need to print two sheets and lay them side by side to fit a half sheet pan.
Scale all dry ingredients. Separate your egg whites and yolks and prepare your equipment.
Sift almond flour and confectioners’ sugar through a medium-mesh sieve and place in a bowl. Repeat this step, discarding any bits that are too big to go through the sieve. Set mixture aside.
Some people like to place the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and pulse them together before sieving. This is usually a great step if your almond flour is not finely ground or if you are making almond flour at home. I use a store-bought flour with a consistency that works great for me, so I don’t do this step but please feel free to try it out for yourself and see what’s best for you.
In your stand mixer bowl, hand whisk your room-temp egg whites till bubbles start to form, then beat them on high speed with the whisk attachment until they start to foam and become cloudy white. Turn down to medium speed, and gradually add granulated sugar to the egg whites until all sugar is incorporated. Turn speed back to high and beat until you start to see stiff, glossy peaks form (about 5 minutes). At this time, add your americolor gel food coloring, if using color, and continue to whip the meringue on medium for a minute more, making sure you don’t over beat your meringue.
For a great guide to measuring meringue peaks and to see what is under-, perfect and over-whipped, check out Zoë François’s instagram stories @zoebakes and her website zoebakes.com. She has the most amazing how-to’s and tip tutorials. Zoë is an invaluable resource for baking!
Once your meringue reaches optimal peaks, slowly start adding your almond flour/confectioner sugar mixture. I like to add this 1/4 at a time. Start to fold the mixture into your meringue using a flat spatula. Tilt the mixing bowl to a 45 degree angle, mix the dry ingredients (1/4 at a time) into the meringue, scooping from the bottom towards you and folding everything onto itself while maintaining the body of your meringue. (Smashing through the center of the mixture will cause the meringue to deflate and we’d need to start from scratch.) Continue to add the dry ingredients with this folding method until everything is added.
At this time, start pressing and spreading the batter against the bowl’s walls. This step, which I think is the hardest to perfect and to understand, is called macaronage.
Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. Repeat this process about 15-30 times.
So here is where I want to explain some things I’ve learned over the years. There are NO set times, folds or strokes. It really depends on how your batter is looking and feeling. While you are folding, pressing and spreading the batter, you want to constantly check the consistency. You are looking for something that resembles a nice lava that slowly flows off your spatula. Erin mentioned to me that as it falls off the spatula, you should be able to draw a figure 8 into the bowl without the stream breaking. The 8 in the bowl should then slowly incorporate back into itself.
Once the batter is to a thick lava consistency, you are ready to pipe your shells. Here is the youtube video I still use as reference for getting my macaronage techniques down.
Now get your prepared piping bag with a round ateco #805 tip. [Make sure to twist and seal the tip of the bag with a clothes pin so the batter doesn’t leak out.] I like to place my pastry bag into a large glass so the bag is upright and sturdy.
Pour all batter into piping bag and again twist and seal the top of the bag with a clothes pin so it’s not exposed to air.
I don’t always do this trick, but sometimes I will seal the top of the bag with a rubber band to make it a bit easier and cleaner when piping. This recipe does make a large amount of batter, so if you aren’t yet confident with holding a larger pastry bag, the rubber band will help. Or you can split this amount into two smaller bags.
It’s now time to pipe your shells. Pipe the batter onto your prepared parchment lined sheet pans fitted with your printed or drawn circle templets. Hold the pastry bag at a 90 degree angle and, with the tip very close to the parchment, pipe the batter until you’ve filled the circle. Quickly lift and twist the bag away creating a small tail to point. If your macaronage is correct, this will fall back into itself and the top will become smooth. The shells will spread just a bit. That is why having a inch of space between them is important.
Once the tray is full, carefully slide out the template and repeat on your other prepared sheet pans. After the trays are full, I like to take a small dab of batter and adhere the corners of the parchment to the sheet pan to make sure the parchment stay in in place during baking.
Firmly tap the sheet pan against the counter or a flat surface a few times. Keep the distribution of the vibrations as even as possible to prevent from deforming your circles to ovals. This step helps the shells hold their rounded shape and knock out as many air bubbles as possible.
Pointer from I Heart Macarons: As macarons bake, small pleat-like frills form at the bottom of each shell. This pleat is called a pied, or “foot”. Without it, the pastry cannot be called a macaron. Some bakers attribute the pied to the macaronage, some to the oven temperature, and some to a good tap of the sheet pan on the counter before baking.
At this time, after you have piped all your shells and before they have formed a skin, ONLY if you’re using a topping such as sprinkles, spices, streusel etc, generously sprinkle the shells with the topping designated for this recipe. If you prefer more or less per macaron, please use your desecration as to how you would like the shells to be topped. Allow shells to start drying.
Preheat your oven to 300˚f / 150˚c and place your rack in the center of the oven, along with an empty sheet pan. You are going to preheat this sheet pan to use as the bottom sheet pan for baking the shells. You always want to have them double tray’d to prevent the bottom of the cookies from burning. I have found that when preheating the second pan, it helps give the shells some extra lift compared to a pan at room temp.
While your oven and sheet pan are preheating, let your shells dry uncovered at room temperature for 15-45 minutes. There’s no “set in stone" time for drying. It’s going to depend on the temperature of your space, the weather and time of year.
As they dry, you are looking for thin skin to form on top like heated milk. You should be able to gently slide your finger across and leave no marks. I like to designate one or two shell as my testers in case one is still tacky and I scar the top.
Once the shells have their skin, place the sheet pan onto the preheated sheet pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the trays once halfway through baking. At the 15-minute mark, check them by lightly pressing on the shell with the back of your finger. If it’s sturdy without movement, they are done. If there’s a little movement on the pied “foot” (the ruffled bottom part), any jiggling at all, they need another minute or two. I will now set the timer at 1-minute intervals and watch them very, very closely. They can go from underdone to overdone in a matter of 60 seconds.
Maracons are a learning experience and no two bakes are the same. Sometimes I have different baking times for the same batch of shells. The key is to be alert to each of your macarons’ needs.
Once they are fully set, place sheet pans on wire racks to cool, leaving the shells on the parchment and on the pan for 15-30 minutes. When the macarons are completely cooled, very carefully remove them from parchment paper by pulling the parchment paper away from the sell. If they are still sticking to the paper, toss into freezer for a few minutes and they’ll easily release from the paper.
…ASSEMBLY and SERVE…
It’s time to play matchmaker! Pair your shells with matching mates of equal size, then pipe cream cheese german buttercream onto the bottom shell in a ring making sure you leave a center for strawberry filling. Place a dollop of strawberry filling into the center. Gently top with its corresponding shell. Finish by pressing pie crumb into the sides of the buttercream. It is best to store your finished macarons in the fridge for a few hours (for optimal results, overnight) to allow the flavors to mingle and “mature” so they develop that ideal soft interior texture with that perfect crisp exterior. Macarons may be refrigerated for about one week or frozen in the freezer for a few months in an airtight container. Enjoy!