My favorite treat at Disneyland are the oversized Raspberry Rose Macarons from the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe at the end of Main Street and these copycat French macarons are as close as I can come to the real thing without going to the park itself! Tart fresh raspberries balance out the sweetness of the raspberry rose cream sandwiched inside delicate, meringue-like macaron cookie shells.
Last October I took my girls to Disneyland to party crash my sister’s Disney vacation with her five (FIVE!) girls and her husband. Our parents came too and we had such a great trip together. My girls are both bracketed in age by cousins and they get along amazingly well, which just makes my heart happy. The oldest was my niece Emma who was only 6 at the time and the youngest were the twins who weren’t even 18 months at the time. And since my sister & her husband obviously have their hands full on a regular basis, my mom and I offered to take all the girls to lunch over on Main Street (because corndogs and the Jolly Holiday bakery) while my sister and brother-in-law got to enjoy a mini Disney date in New Orleans Square getting a Monte Cristo sandwich (incidentally, the best thing to eat in Disneyland).
All 7 girls had been so good and ate so well that after lunch I went into the bakery and got an assortment of Disney goodies (Matterhorn macaroons! chocolate mousse brownie! fruit tart! and of course, the seasonal Mickey Macaron!) which we then shared. And while all of the desserts were yummy, it was the giant Raspberry Rose Macaron shaped like Mickey’s head that was hands down the favorite of everybody. So much so that later that day my mom went back and got another one just for the two of us to share while we watched over the twins and Rose, who had all fallen asleep, while the big girls went on bigger rides.
And I have been dreaming about recreating those amazing and oh-so-beautiful raspberry rose macarons ever since.
Now, I wasn’t able to actually go to Disneyland and get one of their macarons to taste test side by side versions to make sure mine is exactly like theirs, but this is as near as I can remember. The rose flavoring is super subtle but definitely makes these special and unique. And it’s how Disneyland does theirs. But if you don’t want to bother with it or want to sub in coconut or almond flavoring instead, that’s totally cool.
Also, you totally do not have to make these into giant Mickey shaped macarons. I made a batch of these piped into heart shapes (because Valentine’s Day) and they turned out super cute! Or you could stick with traditional 2″ circles if you prefer.
Okay, here is the thing about macarons. I’m definitely no expert at making them. And you don’t have to be either.
I think that macarons are one of those things that intimidate people to the point that they don’t even attempt them. The thing is, they really aren’t that hard to make! If you don’t get hung up on making PERFECT macarons on your first try (or two or three), then you can still end up with delicious macarons, even if they crack or don’t have “feet” or are hollow in the center. Because none of those flaws are fatal to your macarons. They will still taste amazing and have a chewy, almost nougat-like texture inside with a delicately crisp shell outside.
Once I embraced a laissez-faire approach to macarons (I mean, that’s French too, after all. So there!) and stopped worrying about whether a batch would turn out exactly how I envisioned, I found macarons to be really fun to make and even better to eat! Not all of mine had feet like they are supposed to (although many of them did! yay!) and some cracked on top (I think it had to do with my oven cooking a little hot at the back because they cracked in a row while the rest of the pan was fine), but they all tasted fantastic.
To get the vibrant color, I used burgundy gel food coloring. I actually made another batch using red gel food coloring, but I didn’t think the color was as close to the ones at Disneyland. The burgundy still ended up being a little too pink to be just like the raspberry rose macarons at Disneyland which are like a dark, vibrant, red that almost leans toward magenta or purple hues. I’m not sure how they get such a deep color in their macarons but if anybody has ideas I would love to hear! I’ve heard of using ground up freeze-dried fruit to color macarons and maybe that would do the trick? Just don’t use liquid food coloring because that can really affect your macaron batter.
And anyway, the more you make them, the better you will get at it and eventually you will master macarons. At least, that is what I keep telling myself as I certainly have not mastered them yet.
It would probably help if I invested in a kitchen scale so I could actually measure my ingredients by weight rather than using U.S. cup measurements since most macaron tutorials I have read talk about how important it is to have a scale to weigh your macaron ingredients. But you know what? It’s still possible to get decent macarons without a scale. So please don’t let not having one be a deterrent! I included the measurements in grams as given by the blog Bravetart, for anyone who happens to have a scale and wants to take that approach.
BTW, macarons are a great way to use up extra egg whites leftover from making Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes, delicious homemade aioli, or any custard base ice creams. In case you were wondering what to do with extra yolks or whites.
And if you have any leftover raspberry rose cream after filling your raspberry rose macarons, it would make an awesome filling for crepes or topping for pancakes with some fresh fruit!
- 2 egg whites (144 grams)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (72 grams)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup almond flour (115 grams)
- 1 cup powdered sugar (230 grams)
- Red, burgundy or pink gel food coloring
- 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries (don't thaw)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- Dash of salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon rose water
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large (18”) pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a 1 1/2” object (cookie cutter if you have one - since I didn't, I found that the lid to a prescription bottle was the right size and used that) to trace out two guide-circles about 1/2-inch apart on the parchment paper, then trace a large (about a 3-inch circle) toward the bottom of the two smaller circles, connecting them into a Mickey head shape. Continue to make Mickey shapes at least 1" apart on the parchment paper until it is filled, then flip the parchment paper over, ink side down, on your baking sheet.
Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl and set aside. Most all of it should go through the sifter, but even the slightly larger chunks that remain on top can be thrown in on top of the sifted ingredients.
In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, granulated sugar, and salt. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, then increase your speed to medium-high for another 3 minutes, before increasing all the way to full speed for a final 3 minutes. This is much easier using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (I set my KitchenAid speed to 4, then 7, then 8, using my kitchen timer to remind myself to increase the speed every three minutes) but can be done using a hand mixer if that is what you have access to.
At this point, turn the mixer off and add the food coloring and vanilla extract. Whip it for a final minute or two to fully incorporate the color and flavoring, until the meringue is nice and dry and stiff with a large clump of meringue in the center of your whisk when you lift it up. If your meringue isn't stiff enough to form a large clump of meringue on your whisk, keep whisking on high speed for another minute or two until it does.
Now dump the sifted almonds & powdered sugar into the meringue all at once and fold/stir them in with a rubber spatula. As you fold the almonds and sugar into the meringue, it will start to deflate a bit, which is what you want. You might even need to rub or smear some of the batter against the side of the bowl to knock some of the air out of it. Count your strokes if this is your first time making macarons and you will see that after about 25 turns the macaron batter will still be a bit lumpy and stiff. After another 15 strokes (so now you are up to 40) you will notice that the meringue and almond/sugar mixture has combined quite a bit and is just about right. You want a "lava-like" consistency where the batter will "flow" back in on itself slowly when you lift a spoonful of batter out and then drop it back in on top of the batter. After about 20 seconds or so, it should mostly melt back into the majority of the batter. If the batter doesn't incorporate back into itself, it's undermixed and you want to give it a few more stirs, then try again. If you overmix the batter, it will be TOO runny and you won't be able to pipe it into circles because it will ooze continuously. Once you get to about 40 strokes, go one stroke at a time (even though you may end up around 60 strokes - it all kind of depends on your folding/stirring technique, which don't matter as much as reaching the right consistency). Eventually you will get a feel for just the right consistency and you won't need to count strokes. But remember, don't worry too much about getting it just right. Even if you are a few strokes off the perfect consistency, your macarons will bake up and taste wonderful, even if they aren't perfect! Essentially, the batter should be thick enough to mound up on itself, but fluid enough to melt back down after 20 seconds or so.
Transfer the macaron batter to a piping bag (or a gallon-size Ziploc bag with one corner snipped off) and pipe the batter into 1 1/2" circles onto the parchment paper, using the pre-traced circles as your guides and starting on the inside of each circle and working to the edge, stopping just shy of the borders of the circle, since the batter will continue to spread just a bit.
Rap the baking sheet with the piped macarons against the counter 3 or 4 times, turning it 90 degrees each time, to knock out any large air bubbles that might cause the macarons to crack while baking. Let them sit on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes to develop a "skin".
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake the macarons for 18 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool. You should be able to peel the parchment paper away from the macarons without them sticking.
Once the macarons are completely cool, assemble them by dolloping a bit of raspberry rose cream on the back on one macaron shell and arranging a few raspberries in the cream. Then top with another macaron shell and serve. Because the cream has a tendency to soak into the macaron after a few hours (unlike buttercream) you don't want to assemble these macarons too far in advance.
In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, salt, and 1 tablespoon of water. Heat over medium-high heat for 7-9 minutes, until the berries release their juice and are bubbling.
Pour the raspberry mixture into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and press the raspberries up against the sides of the strainer to release as much juice as possible. Return the juice to the pan along with 1 tablespoon of the seeds that remain in the strainer.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of water and stir. Slowly pour the cornstarch slurry into the raspberry juice while stirring and cooking over medium-high heat. Cook for 1 minute, stirring until the jam begins to thicken a bit. Remove from heat and stir in the rose water. Pour into a clean bowl and allow it to cool completely, then refrigerate until well-chilled.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream on high speed with a hand mixer until medium peaks begin to form. Do not overmix. Add the powdered sugar, and mix again, just until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add the raspberry rose jam and mix until combined, then refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the macarons.
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