If you want to bake some spookily tasty Halloween treats, look no further than these gluten free macarons shaped like skulls. Halloween has to be one of my favourite holidays, I just love all the creativity, from baking to costumes and decorating. It’s also my mum’s birthday so there is always cake in my house, this year I teamed up with my sister to bake these skull macarons for my mum.
This recipe is a standard macaron in a fun skull shape which is filled with white chocolate ganache, no extra flavour added. I find in making these gluten free I use lots of ground almonds which creates a super almondy sweet flavour, which is complimented by the creamy ganache filling and that’s all there really is to it, no need to add any extra flavourings in my opinion.
A Word Of Warning
I find macarons can be quite temperamental to bake so it is really key to not overmix when adding the ground almonds so that they rise nicely, and to wait longer than you think you need to before baking so that they can form a protective shell to stop them cracking.
You will need:
- Baking trays (at least 2)
- Baking paper
- Standing or hand held mixer
- 2 Large mixing bowls
- A sieve
- Food processor or blender
- Piping bag
- #3 round nozzle (optional)
- Black edible food pen or gel food colour and a thin brush
- 115g (1 ¼ cups) Ground almonds
- 200g (2 cups) Icing/confectioners’ sugar
- 115g (½ cup) Egg whites at room temperature (3 to 4 medium eggs)
- 100g (½ cup) Caster sugar
- 1 tsp Cream of tartar
- Purple/violet gel food colour (optional)
- 200g (1⅕ cups) White chocolate
- 200ml Double cream
Print a macaron template and place this under a sheet of baking paper on a tray. Line all the trays you are using with baking paper, you can use the same template for each as this will not go in the oven.
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (325°F)
Blend together the ground almonds and icing sugar in a blender or food processor until finely powdered. Next is where you need 2 big bowls, sift the flour and sugar into one bowl removing any larger lumps, then sift into the other bowl. Repeat this, throwing away any lumps left in the sieve. You want to sift through at least 4 times to ensure a smooth top.
Use the whisk attachment on a standing mixer or a hand held to whip the egg whites. Keep whisking until the eggs are foamy and form soft peaks that hold their shape.
Keep whisking the eggs on a medium speed and slowly add a tablespoon of caster sugar at a time. Let the sugar be incorporated before you add the next spoon full, then turn up to full speed.
Once the eggs look shiny and white add in the cream of tartar to stabilise just like you would a normal meringue. Beat until thick, testing that it doesn’t drip when the whisk is lifted out and the peaks hold themselves. When you look at the air bubbles they should be so small it almost sparkles.
If you are adding food colour add it now and blend in until the colour is even. I added a very tiny amount of purple to make the mixture look really white and offset the brown that develops from the heat of cooking. This step isn’t necessary if you don’t happen to have the colour in the house.
Sift a third of the almond and icing sugar into the egg mixture and gently fold in. Careful not to overmix!
Repeat this step untill all the almond and icing sugar is incorporated. Mix slowly and carefully so that you don’t lose the air beaten into the egg whites. The mixture should drip very slowly off the spatula but if it is too sloppy add a bit extra almond flour.
Transfer to a piping bag with a round nozzle or snip about 5 mm off the tip of the bag and start to pipe in the center of a template circle on the baking paper. Keep central and perpendicular as you pipe, making small circular movements to help spread the macaron mixture in a perfect circle. When the macaron is the right size for you (I aim for just under a centimetre high) then lift the piping bag with a slight twist of the wrist to stop a peak forming. Then pipe a smaller blob attached to the macaron you just piped to form a skull face shape.
Fill the tray and gently slide the template out from underneath. The macarons might spread slightly but should hold their shape if you haven’t mixed too much.
Lift the tray a centimetre off the work surface gently drop so that the tray taps on the surface. This will remove any bubbles. If you still have a few big bubbles, take a cocktail stick and lightly poke each bubble to pop them.
Now you wait. Leave the macarons for an hour so that the outside layer can dry, once dried out it shouldn’t stick to your finger if you lightly touch it. If it does wait a little longer, the wait depends on the moisture in the room. This shell may seem unimportant but I can’t stress how much it will do for you. This magical protective shell helps the macarons keep their shape.
Bake for 12 minutes then place the tray on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes preferably longer. I bake in a few batches of 2 trays.
Do NOT try to take off the tray straight away or they will break. Once cooled peel from the baking paper and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, match up pairs of macarons that have similar size and shape.
Pulse the white chocolate in a food processor until broken into tiny pieces.
Heat the cream in a microwave for 30 seconds to a minute testing that the cream feels hot enough to melt the chocolate but no hotter.
With the food processor on a low speed, slowly add the warm cream into the chocolate until the the mixture turns smooth and creamy.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the fridge or until the ganache is a good piping consistency.
Transfer to a piping bag and pipe a spiral on the flat side of the macaron then press together with its pair. Repeat until all macarons are filled.
Take the edible ink pen and draw a face on one side of the macaron. I like to make each a little different with their own expression.
If you don’t have an edible ink pen you can paint these with a thin paint brush using gel food colour mixed with a white spirit such as vodka.