“Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of.” I love this little rhyme, it is so darling. I probably extra love it because I am a girl and like to think about all the nice things I am made up of. The bit for the boys though, about the “snips and snails and puppy dog tails” is kind of disconcerting. I am sure over the generations something has been lost in the wording or meaning, but still: who tossed in puppy dog tails as an important part of a boy-brew? That’s more of what horror movies are made of.
Enough with the horrible, back to the lovely-little girl-piece. I am a god-mama to one of these bundles of sugar and spice. Officially, I was given my title last weekend at Little Miss Halle Anna’s baptism. It is such an honour, to be chosen by my dear friend to be a role model for her little girl. And what a star Halle was throughout the whole ceremony, she did not make a peep, even when water was being poured on her teeny little head.
My first priority in my new role was to get her a fun little gift. I mean, god-moms get to indulge in the perks, like spoiling and pampering the little buttons. Actually, I am fully aware of the reality: right now, I am indulging her mom and myself with sweet little things like baby pink Converse high tops. And this fun little find on Etsy: poster made up of nursery rhymes that outline the baby’s initial and then her name in the middle of the letter. A little piece of personalized art for her room: I love this, her Mom loves this and Halle, well, Halle likely doesn’t care as she is 6 months old and not really into making things pretty…. yet.
What she is into is smiling, bouncing, being held, observing, crying, finger-holding, napping and just generally being a little doll; an endearing and much loved pretty little doll.
Next priority was to bake up something baptism party appropriate. So, I called on the macaron. It is so flexible and willing to be twisted into whatever flavours the day calls for. For this day, the little-girl party shells helped themselves to some cinnamon and the filling jumped into a mess of brown sugar and cream cheese. By sandwiching these together, I ended up with a Sugar & Spice Macaron baked just for Halle’s big day.
Sugar & Spice Macarons
Cinnamon Macaron Shells
Recipe adapted from Tartelette
90 grams egg whites (aged in the fridge for 24-48 hours)
200 grams powdered sugar
30 grams granulated sugar
110 grams almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not over beat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds, powdered sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds onto parchment paper lined baking sheets (or a silpat mat really does rule here). Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and then bake for 18-20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Filling
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp light brown sugar – packed
1/8 cup corn starch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 x 8oz package cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a small bowl whisk together the sugars and the corn starch. In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar mix and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until filling is smooth and light. Chill the bowl in the fridge until it thickens to a paste like consistency. Place filling in a pastry bag and pipe a tablespoon of frosting onto a macaron and sandwich with another.
Remember, do not attempt to make macarons without first reading Demysitfying Macarons by Helene at Tartelette. She is a macaron maven and will help you be successful with these finicky little delights.