Firstly, let me assure you there is nothing cat-related in these macarons, they are simply shaped liked cat faces, with the ears, the nose and the whiskers – the general catlike things. I feel I have to clarify this, not because I actually think someone would read this and wonder if I cook with cat fur (strange people), but because every time I type “cat macarons”, a part of my brain pings (yes, it really makes a pinging noise) as if in warning that something is wrong – I can’t help but feel like there is something very wrong about writing “cat macarons” despite my absolute certainty that there is nothing cat-related in them!
Now that’s cleared up, let’s move on to the story. A friend’s very sweet bub was turning one, and is apparently quite taken with cats. And so, the party was cat-themed – yes, including the food! There were cat donuts and cat cupcakes, and of course, cat macarons. But then, that begs the question, how on earth does one make cat macarons? Entree Pinterest, you wonderful thing.
Pinterest can show you just about anything – if someone’s tried it (not always successfully), it’s probably on Pinterest. And for this I am very thankful! It turns out that many people have attempted a cat macaron, and as such, one has their pick of style, colour and method. And so, I chose a simple style and method, to great effect, wouldn’t you say? (I would).
Makes approx. 20 macarons | Allow 2 hours
60g almond meal
110g icing sugar
2 egg whites
40g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
1 or 2 cups icing sugar
1 tbs cocoa
1 tbs milk
Gel colouring pens or edible ink pens (black, plus other colours if desired)
- Make the macaron shells: beat egg whites and caster sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, on high speed until you have a meringue – you want stiff, thick and glossy peaks, but stop beating before it becomes too dry loses its glossiness!
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and carefully stir in half of the almond meal with a large spoon or spatula – go slowly as you don’t want to beat all of the air out of the egg whites!
- Repeat with the remaining half of the almond meal and add then the icing sugar. Stir until well combined – but again, go gently!
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain 1cm or 2cm circular nozzle. If you don’t have a piping bag or nozzle, just place the mixture into a zip lock bag, seal the top, then cut one of the bottom corners of the bag slightly, to create a 1cm opening.
- Place a bit of the meringue mixture in each corner of 3 baking trays, line with baking paper using the meringue to stick the paper to the trays – this will help with the piping.
- Pipe rounds about the size of a 20c or 50c piece until you’ve used all the meringue.
- With a toothpick, shape two ears on half of the shells (the other half of the shells will be used as the backing of the macarons, and don’t require ears, unless you’d like to add them).
- Let the macaron shells sit at room temperature for 30 minutes – this gives them a nice crusty edge. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C fan-forced.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until pale and soft.
- Gradually add enough of the icing sugar, cocoa and milk so that you have a thick, pliable filling that will be soft enough to pipe, but firm enough to hold its shape on a warm day.
- Scoop the filling into another piping bag fitted with a plain 1cm circular nozzle (or zip lock bag). Set aside.
- Bake the macaron shells for 12-15 minutes until they are crispy on top and are no longer sticky on the bottom – check this by scraping one off the tray with a knife or palette knife. If they’re still sticky, give them another minute and check again.
- Remove from the oven to cool entirely before decorating and filling.
- To decorate the eared cat faces, use an edible ink pen or gel colouring (see notes) to draw ears, eyes, nose, whiskers etc. If using a gel colouring, a paintbrush or toothpick will work well. Set aside to dry.
- To fill the macarons, pipe a small amount of filling onto the shells that aren’t decorated and sandwich them together with the undecorated shells. Try to make sure that you sandwich similar sized shells as they will look better.
- Macarons can be served immediately or stored at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
- Macarons can be kept at room temperature for a few hours before serving and a few days in the pantry. They can be kept for about a week in the fridge, however this will make them lose their nice crispiness, so they’re best eaten before refrigeration is required.
- Edible ink pens can be bought in specialty cake stores or shops like Spotlight.
- Gel colouring can be found in the cake decorating area of most supermarkets.