The Daring Bakers Practice Their French Kissing – Cinnamon and Cream Cheese Macarons

October 27, 2009 at 12:33 am 44 comments

When I was in elementary school, I had a neighbor who I always played with, N-. I looked up to her for most everything – she was smart, pretty, and just older than me to have unquestionable authority. Whenever we played, whether it was pretend school or board games, she set the rules and stage of everything we did.

One day a new bike appeared on N-’s front lawn. At nine years old I thought it was utterly, undeniably the most perfect and beautiful bicycle I’d ever seen. The body was a seamless silver not yet smudged by fingerprints, with a shiny white seat and handles. Little blue glittery flowers adorned the spokes of the wheels, blurring into a pretty aqua streak when the bike smoothly accelerated. My own bike, which I’d cherished for years, suddenly seemed babyish in comparison with sparkles on its handlebars and a pink vinyl basket perfect for stuffed animals. But worst of all, my childish pink bike had training wheels – more shameful proof of my inability to match up to N-.

I waited for N- to come back from middle school that day, sitting on my front step. When she waved hello, I took a deep breath, and visualized the words I’d been reciting and editing and reciting again over and over in my head. What came out was simply, “Can I ride it?”

N-’s smile faded and she looked back at the bike, back at me. There is something so irresistible about ownership, something that’s yours, something still new and shiny. Even as children we appreciated possession of something beautiful. Unfortunately, this meant N- was less inclined to share her new toy with an untrustworthy neighbor still in the single digits.

“No,” was all she had to say about that. When she saw my face crumple, she added hastily, “But only because you don’t know how to ride a two wheeler. That’s all. You’d crash it and break it and I just got it new.”

Naturally, then, there was only one thing to do – learn to ride a bike without training wheels.

I had only tried to ride a two wheeler once before. I owned a dark purple bike without training wheels that my mother’s co-worker had given us, but I had never been enchanted by it. With its unattractive black stripes, lack of sparkles, and too-tall seat, I had been more than happy to stick to my pink baby bicycle. Not only did it feel safer, I found it a much more beautiful way to get around.

When my mother initially brought the purple bike home, we did try to use it in the park. Mom held the back of the bicycle seat as I pedaled, but no matter how strongly she tried to convince me that she was holding on, I couldn’t help but constantly look back to make sure she was still there. I never gained the confidence or proper motivation to master the two wheeler. Even though mom bought me a full set of knee and elbow pads, I stubbornly gave up.

Having had a few years to mature and a chance to ride N-’s bike was the perfect push. I immediately went to our garage and lifted out the ugly purple bike I’d never expected to ride again. I wheeled it over to a grassy slope near my house, and snapped on my helmet with a loud click. I was going to be riding this bike by the end of the day, or scrape my knees raw trying.

That day, I spent three hours on that grassy hill. I started by sitting on the bike and simply letting it roll down the slope without pedaling, until I could maintain my balance well enough. Then I repeated the process, this time pedaling the bike as I went. I fell over more times than I could count, staining my jeans green and scraping my palms, but every time I stood back up and got back on. When I could finally ride my bike on the sidewalk all the way back to my house without falling once, I knew I had finally done it.

As it turned out, N- still didn’t want to share, and I never did get the chance to play with her beautiful bike. But I’d learned something valuable in the process, something that I’ve kept with me long after that shiny new bike dulled and N- moved far away. Besides finally graduating to the two wheeled bike, I learned the power of perseverance. When I am truly determined, I can accomplish anything with enough effort, even if it means a few scrapes along the way.

Hugely, this concept has proved true for the Daring Bakers. The lavendar milanos that I made over and over before tasting success come to mind first, and the Dobos Torte that I had to attempt twice. When I saw the Daring Baker’s October challenge, I groaned.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Macarons are among the most notorious desserts in the food blogging world, as temperamental and difficult as high school boys. They’ve been on my goal list for months, but to be truthful, I probably would have never been brave enough to attempt them. The Daring Baker’s challenge provided exactly the push I needed. Though I knew I would probably break some eggs, throw a spatula in frustration, and have to make macarons over and over – possibly without success – I felt up to the challenge.

So imagine my surprise when I made the macarons and they came out more beautifully than I would have believed, on my first attempt! I drew the first batch out of the oven and saw to my shock and delight that they had little ruffled feet. While they could have been smoother, taller, and had more perfect feet, I couldn’t have been happier with my results. And the flavor profile I chose evokes warm cinnamon rolls or snickerdoodle cookies.

And now, as a 17 year old in the kitchen, the smell of cinnamon and cream cheese is just as appealing as a gleaming new bike.


Many Daring Bakers this month did not like this recipe, and had much more success with Tartelette’s macaron recipe. Like I said, mine were not perfectly formed, and were a little moister/tackier than perfect. Overall, though, they were a success. I don’t know why mine worked – kitchen karma? Plain dumb luck? – but here’s what I did:

- I aged my egg whites in a bowl on the counter, covered with a paper towel, for 3 days.
- I used storebought almond meal (which is actually moister than almond flour).
-
I sifted my almond flour/powdered sugar/cinnamon mixture 3 times.
I have no idea how many strokes I used with the egg white/almond flour mixture. I just folded until combined.
- I doubled up on pans, but I don’t know if this made a difference.
- After piping, I rapped the pan on the counter to release air bubbles.
- I let the piped macarons sit on the counter for an hour before baking. No feet formed, but a slight skin did.

Since the recipe worked for me, I am reproducing it below. My one complaint is that I did find the macarons a bit too sweet, so I used a tangy cream cheese filling to balance it out. They were quite good!

Cinnamon and Cream Cheese Macarons
Makes 10 Dozen

2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.) icing sugar
2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.) almond flour
2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.) granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 egg whites (Have at room temperature)

Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored. Cool on a rack before filling.

Cream Cheese Filling
Makes enough to fill the macarons

6 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar until combined, then mix in the juice and extract. Pipe a dollop onto one macaron and top with another.

Printer Friendly Version – Cinnamon and Cream Cheese Macarons

As always, I encourage you to check out every Daring Baker’s macarons. They are incredible!

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44 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Meeta  |  October 27, 2009 at 1:30 am

    brilliant – you’ve chosen some awesome flavors here. cinnamon macarons sound delish! and i love the tiny bite size bits!

    Reply
  • 2. Lucy  |  October 27, 2009 at 3:45 am

    Congratulations on it working out first time – they look gorgeous! And I love the flavour combinations :D

    Reply
  • 3. Alicia  |  October 27, 2009 at 4:36 am

    They look fantastic – I want to try baking these one day.

    Reply
  • 4. Angela  |  October 27, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Girl, you did good (again)! I can almost smell them from here…

    Reply
  • 5. Audax Artifex  |  October 27, 2009 at 5:33 am

    17 and you can make macarons I’m impressed they look amazing. Love the pictures and the story is charming. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

    Reply
  • 6. Dolce  |  October 27, 2009 at 7:11 am

    You have americanized the French macaron by using cream cheese & cinnamon :)

    Reply
  • 7. Makey-Cakey  |  October 27, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I’m in awe – my attempts resulted in 3 failures :o( – as usual love love love your writing – it always makes me smile :o)

    Reply
  • 8. nutmegnanny  |  October 27, 2009 at 10:01 am

    They turned out great! This months challenge was a first for me too. I was always nervous about making macarons but so happy they turned out :) I also love your filling choice…yum!

    Reply
  • 9. Lauren  |  October 27, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I’m so glad this challenge was painless! The macarons look fabulous & your story was the perfect complement to this delicious concoction =D.

    Reply
  • 10. Deanna  |  October 27, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Congrats on an extremely successful first attempt. These are beautiful and your story leading up is so appropriate. Another wonderful post!

    Reply
  • 11. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction  |  October 27, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Your macarons look beautiful!! I’m afraid my attempt at the macarons was much more like learning to ride a bike… I’m still stuck at the training wheels stage :)

    Reply
  • 12. Memoria  |  October 27, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I can’t believe we made almost the same combination of macarons (I added brown sugar with my cinnamon)!!! Although my photos and macarons don’t nearly as perfect as yours do! I just adore your writing as well. You did an awesome job on this challenge. There’s no doubt about that.

    Reply
  • 13. Tania  |  October 27, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    “the most notorious desserts in the food blogging world, as temperamental and difficult as high school boys”

    heeheee ^^ I love your stories and metaphors! with every blog post, we learn just as much about the baker as about the baking.

    yeppp, americanized version :] but I’ve always wanted to try macarons – unfortunately, I never got the chance when i was in France! I guess you’ll have to make this recipe once again sometime, just for me (:

    Reply
  • 14. lavienouveau  |  October 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    oh yours are SO perfect. I tried to make macaroons a few months ago and they were okay but these are lovely and sound like it would be a much more interesting flavor – I’ll have to give them a try sometime!

    Reply
  • 15. kristen  |  October 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    beautiful (and delicious sounding) macarons. loved your story about the bike and determination. well done.

    Reply
  • 16. Jill  |  October 27, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Loved your story about learning how to ride your bike–perfect analogy for learning how to make macarons. Yours turned out beautiful!

    Reply
  • 17. Monica H  |  October 27, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    These are beautiful little bites and I love the flavor combination here. great job!

    Reply
  • 18. Michelle Moore  |  October 28, 2009 at 12:59 am

    I LOVE the bike story! You are such a talented writer girl!! :) xoxo

    Reply
  • 19. kai  |  October 28, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Awww I was trying to figure out who N- was and then I realized…haha

    anyways, communications is so boring. We’re talking about teenagers hahaha. and freedom. and looking at the macarons is so much nicer than having to listen to the class…=]

    Reply
  • 20. Kitchen Goddess  |  October 28, 2009 at 8:35 am

    They look gorgeous. Congratulations!!

    Reply
  • 21. Valérie  |  October 28, 2009 at 9:33 am

    That was a very cute story, and very well written. I had no doubt you would succeed with this challenge! The macarons look adorable, and your pictures are superb, especially the ones where the macarons are being handled. Terrific job!

    Reply
  • 22. Rylan  |  October 28, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Fabulous! I still need the guts to make those.

    PS. Your photography rocks.

    Reply
  • 23. Amanda  |  October 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Nice. I reallllly want to get back to Daring Bakers. I don’t know what my issue is! It’s not that I’m not daring!! :)

    Reply
  • 24. Jenny Tan  |  October 29, 2009 at 8:36 am

    What a great story for the challenge! :) Your macs looks cute, and what a great idea on the cream cheese filling to balance off the sweetness. Mine flopped! :P

    Reply
  • 25. thirtydirtyfingers  |  October 29, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Great work, and I love the bike story! :) (Took me a few attempts to get feet.)

    Reply
  • 26. Kerry  |  October 30, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Your story of perseverance and bike-riding is as delicious as those macarons. Makes me wonder if I could actually bake these little things if I just tried hard enough.

    Reply
  • 27. Making my Mark  |  October 30, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Beautiful! The flavor sounds delicious.

    Reply
  • 28. Ashley  |  November 1, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Great job with the macarons! I love the flavour combo you chose. I still haven’t attempted making them yet.

    Reply
  • 29. Charmaine  |  November 1, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    looks wonderful and cuteeee! :)

    Reply
  • 30. Tom  |  November 2, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Awesome photos. Can you share your camera settings for those photos?

    Reply
    • 31. Elissa  |  November 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm

      Tom – Thank you! I used an ISO of 100 and F stop of f/4. I’m still really new with my camera, so if there’s any other settings you need to know to get the “whole picture” just let me know! :)

  • 32. Julie  |  November 3, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I could’ve sworn I already left you a comment, but I can’t find it! Just wanted to let you know that your macarons are gorgeous :) Congratulations!

    Reply
  • 33. JoDee  |  November 3, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Great story- lovely recipe – reminds me of an old saying
    “fall down five times – get up six” – you rock !!

    Reply
  • 34. Corrie  |  November 27, 2009 at 8:25 am

    I loved your photos so much I had to bake these. I got tired of squeezing the pastry bag soon, so I ended up spooning the mixture on the baking sheet and flattening it a bit with my fingers. It made no difference in texture. The filling is great, it softens the macaroons.

    Reply
  • 35. moonglowgardens  |  January 21, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Your macarons look fantastic!

    Reply
  • 36. Best Valentine’s Day of ALL TIME « anna cotta  |  February 16, 2010 at 1:36 am

    [...] I said it!) I have attempted them before, only to receive horrible, foot-less disappointment. But Seventeen and Baking led the way to macaron nirvana. It was a long journey: five days of egg-aging, lots of sifting, [...]

    Reply
  • 37. Elsa  |  April 11, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    They look great!! I tried them and they became pretty flat :( I have a question: Is almond flour = ground almonds? I think my almond+powdered sugar mixture wasn’t fine enough…

    Reply
    • 38. Elissa  |  April 11, 2010 at 9:34 pm

      Elsa – Yup, almond flour = ground almonds. But it needs to be really, really fine. I used store bought almond meal which is as fine as flour, and even then I pulsed it some more in the food processor. There might be other reasons why your macarons were flat, but unfortunately, I don’t know a great deal about the science behind them, I think I just got lucky with mine! Wish I could be more helpful :(

  • 39. leslie  |  June 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Did you sift the almond flour and then discard the pieces that did not go through the mesh before measuring for the recipe? Did you sift the 10X prior to measuring? Did you bake on a silpat or just parchment? Love, love, love your blog. Keep up the fantastic work.

    Reply
    • 40. Elissa  |  June 5, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      leslie – I sifted the almond flour and pushed every little bit through, so I didn’t have any pieces leftover. I used storebought almond flour so it was very, very fine. If you’re making the flour yourself and some pieces are too big to go through, I’d either grind it finer or discard the leftover pieces. I baked on parchment paper. Thanks for the kind comments :)

  • 41. Amie  |  July 3, 2010 at 3:28 am

    These look wonderful! I’ve been plotting to try making these for a while, and I do have one question. You said you aged your eggs for three days on your kitchen counter, right? D’you think it’d be at all possible to age them in the fridge? ;>.> I live in a blastedly hot area, and I’m worried about them going bad in the heat or something. o_o;

    They really look incredibly delicious, and your photography is quite beautiful!

    Reply
  • 42. Pudding Pie Lane  |  February 12, 2011 at 8:52 am

    How do you get those macaroons to be so perfect and round? Mine always come out blobby and rectangular :(

    They look great by the way!

    Reply
  • 43. Isabel Kitchen  |  May 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    As always, these look delicious!
    When I was six my babysitter told me that it was time for me to take my training wheels off (literally) I was afraid, but she assured me that the bike was so old and used the training wheels rose and didn’t even touch the floor anymore, til this day I don’t know if this was true, but it helped.

    Reply
  • 44. auld lang syne « Beautiful in His Time  |  December 31, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    [...] year, I was dying to make these cinnamon macarons with cream cheese filling and I spent all of yesterday slaving over the oven for them only to turn out looking like mush. So, [...]

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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