February 3: Elmo’s Birthday
Islander LOVES Elmo!!! She just can’t resist the Sesame Street star with the bright red fur and big eyes, nose and smile. He exudes energy, optimism, cheer and playfulness—all of which are positive qualities that we need more of, not just in “Elmo’s World” but in ours. Islander has an accumulation of toys, clothing, cups and party decorations (gifts from Highlander, family, friends and even herself!) that rivals any kid’s collection.
In honor of Elmo on his birthday, Islander gave macarons a makeover by piping on his famous facial features to add a peppy personality to the petite French cookies. Elmo is her muse and the inspiration behind the dessert decorations. Pictured below in the visual tutorials are a variety of her beloved Elmo “models” who joined her in our kitchen while making macarons. Happy birthday, Elmo!
Listen to Elmo’s Song.
For the basic macarons (Italian meringue method)
- 1 cup almond flour/meal
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 egg whites (fresh, unpasteurized and aged overnight at room temperature)
- ½ cup sugar, granulated white
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- red food coloring
Sift the almond flour/meal with the powdered sugar. Grind in a food processor in batches to remove any lumps (optional). Whip the egg whites until peaks form. Make a simple syrup to stabilize the egg whites by boiling the sugar and water together until it reaches a temperature of 245 degrees F on a candy thermometer (or until it reaches a soft ball stage). Pour into the egg whites and whip again until stiff and glossy.
Fold in the almond flour/meal-sugar mix until the consistency “flows like magma.” Mix in the vanilla flavoring. Tint the macaronage with red food coloring. (We used a combination of red liquid drops and red concentrated gel icing color but recommend the latter for a more vibrant hue and less liquid in the macaronage.) Pipe one-inch discs on a parchment paper on top of an insulated baking sheet.
Let the discs air dry to develop a thin skin for at least 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Watch the “feet” develop, but be careful not to brown or burn the macarons. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Peel off the macarons from the parchment paper. Sort by size and match pairs. Make the filling.
For the chocolate ganache filling
(Adapted from Baker’s Chocolate)
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate squares (we used Baker’s brand)
In a saucepan, heat the whipping cream on medium-low heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. In a microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the chocolate squares. Pour the cream into the melted chocolate. Stir until well combined. Let cool to thicken. Whip the chocolate ganache until it reaches a spreadable consistency.
Fill a pastry bag with a large round tip. Pipe in the filling and sandwich the macarons together. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the filling set.
For Elmo’s face decorations
- 1 tube white frosting (for the eyes)
- mini chocolate chips (for the pupils)
- 1 tube orange frosting (for the nose)
Pipe two small rounds (eyeballs) with the white tube frosting near the edge of a macaron. Add the mini chocolate chips (pupils) on the point of the white icing of the eyes.
Complete the facial features by piping in a small round (nose) with the orange tube frosting. Let the orange frosting dry for a few minutes before gently pressing down on any tips of the nose. Refrigerate the macarons to set. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Elmo is our muse and model for making macarons and is the inspiration behind our entry into the January 2011 MacAttack challenge following the “MacInspiration” theme.
- Visit Elmo and all his friends on Sesame Street. The official site has a selection of videos, coloring pages, interactive games, playlists and more! PBS TV has similar stuff.
- Watch a YouTube interview with Elmo on the Sesame Street channel.
- Listen to an interview with Kevin Clash, the positive puppeteer behind Elmo, on Wisconsin Public Television. “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” won the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
- Sesame Street fans who like our Elmo macarons may be interested in our Cookie Monster cupcakes.