We all know the tried and true saying, "Everything tastes better when it's Mickey shaped!"
Well, what do you get when you take impossibly difficult dessert and try to make it into the impossibly adorable Mickey shape? You get a delicious, delectable, delightful Mickey macaron!
Now I'm always up for a challenge, but I have a tough history with macarons. I've been trying to make them for more than 5 years and something always goes wrong! They have no feet, they're cracked, they're gooey, they stick to bottom, they're hollow, the list goes on and on...and believe me, I've read every troubleshooting guide to macarons that's out there, and it just felt like me and macarons just weren't meant to be.
Queue Food and Wine Festival 2020 at Disney's California Adventure (the foodie guide can be found here) and their perfect and beautiful Mickey-shaped peanut butter chocolate macaron. Mix that with my utter FOMO because I couldn't make it to Food & Wine Festival, and you have me back on the macaron horse.
I have tried many a recipe in my countless macaron attempts, but this time around I chose to use this Tasty recipe where I swapped the matcha powder with cocoa powder. I also like to extra sift my almond flour, powdered sugar mixture (about 3-4 times) because 1) I like how fine it looks after, and 2) I'm super paranoid that clumps will ruin my batter, though it's debatable how much sifting is required.
For my filling, I decided on a peanut butter dark chocolate ganache because I felt like it would go well with the chocolate macaron cookies (and it matched the Food and Wine Festival macaron, though that macaron's filling I think is just peanut butter). For my ganache recipe, check it out at the end!
Even though the internet is all about aesthetic food pictures and perfect recipes, I'm more than happy to share my "Nailed It" moments because I want to emphasize that PROGRESS IS POSSIBLE!
So here was my first attempt at my Mickey-shaped macarons (please don't laugh too hard)
So first of all they were really light in color, which was pretty disappointing to me, I was expecting a nice chocolate brown, and was wondering if I didn't add enough cocoa powder, but what I actually learned was if you want the deep brown chocolate color you actually need a different kind of cocoa powder: dutch-processed noir cocoa powder!
And as cute as my cookies looked when I piped them onto the parchment paper, they all came out cracked! My handy dandy troubleshooting guide told me that I basically didn't fold my batter with enough force that essentially beat the air out of it. So the air pockets exploded in the oven due to the heat causing all the cracks! I was super gentle because I was afraid of overmixing the batter, so I ended up undermixing. *facepalm*
Then I got the bright idea that I could cover up my mistakes with my fantastic ganache. Meh. The damage was done, and there was very little I could do to fix it.
But how did it taste?
Delicious! The cookies, though cracked, were light and sweet. It didn't have the overly chewy texture that sticks in your teeth, and the ganache was excellent! I actually really enjoyed these little bits of chocolate peanut buttery heaven! But they are SO not Instagrammable...
Onto round 2!
What did I learn from the first failure?
1. Use dutch-processed noir cocoa! In my first batch I used the Hershey's cocoa powder you can find at any grocery store, but this time around I went to a baking supply store and was introduced to the wide wonderful world of cocoa! There are actually lots of different kinds to choose from, but I chose the darkest one, the noir cocoa powder. And what a difference it made! It produced the exact color I was going for!
2. Beat that batter! This time around I was going to be firm and going to be confident in my batter mixing (but also try to be very careful....)
So how did it go? Well, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the macarons!
These macarons came out perfectly in my eyes (a couple had some cracks, but it was an overall success!) They were beautiful and smooth and they tasted amazing!
I could not believe it, but the Disney magic was truly on my side!
ºoº 1 egg white
ºoº 1/4 cup granulated sugar
ºoº 1/4 cup almond flour
ºoº 1/3 cup powdered sugar
ºoº 1 tsp dutch processed noir cocoa powder
1. Preheat the oven to 300F
2. Sift together the almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl
3. In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form then gradually add in the granulated sugar and continue to beat on high until you get stiff peaks
4. Fold the sifted dry mixture into the egg whites until they are just combined. Remember to mix firmly to get an air bubbles out, but not too hard that you flatten the entire batter
5. Pipe the batter onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Tap the tray lightly against the table to let any air bubbles out and let the batter rest until the tops of the cookies are dry to the touch (30 minutes - 1 hour)
6. Bake for about 15 minutes
7. Allow the cookies to rest and cool then add the filling
ºoº As I mentioned above, you can sift your dry mixture at your discretion. I like to err on the side of more sifting than less to avoid lumps
Peanut butter chocolate ganache
ºoº 4 oz. dark chocolate chips
ºoº 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
ºoº 1 scoop peanut butter
1. Heat the heavy whipping cream over low to medium heat on the stove
2. Once the cream starts to simmer take the pot off the stove - do not let it boil!
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and leave it for 2-3 minutes - this allows the cream to melt the chocolate
4. Mix the chocolate and cream until smooth
5. Mix in the peanut butter
6. Allow to cool
ºoº Feel free to swap out the dark chocolate for any other kind of chocolate you like or the peanut butter with your preferred nut butter. If you want to swap out the heavy whipping cream be aware that you'll need something with a similar fat content to create the thick texture
ºoº You can add as much peanut butter as you like depending on how strong you want the taste. I recommend starting off with a little then adding more to taste, but make sure you don't eat it all!
ºoº The ganache will be very liquid and runny when you first finish up, so make sure to let it cool so it will thicken. You don't want to put it in the fridge because you still want it to be a bit molten when you add your filling.