I’m a little sad that I didn’t think of this macaron idea, given that I’ve already noted that my rice flour macarons taste like rice krispies – cereal macarons should have been my next thought!
The idea and frosting recipe come from The Busy Spatula. I stuck with my usual rice flour macaron recipe, because I’ve never tried the Italian method before (where some of the egg white is used to make a paste with the flour, and the sugar is added as a sugar syrup). I am interested in trying these in the future, but as I had a lot of macarons to make, I didn’t want to experiment unless I was absolutely sure I could make this method work. Given that it took a few batches to get my macarons to work in the first place, I didn’t want to take too many risks.
My last rice flour macarons were made with brown rice flour, so they had a darker colour naturally. For these, I wanted the fruit loops to shine (and the photos over at The Busy Spatula made the white macarons look so good!) so I got some white rice flour to put in these. White rice flour actually works in quite differently than the brown rice flour. Most macaron recipes that I’ve seen have a slightly gritty looking texture, with the almond flour mixed in but still visible as small grains in the meringue. With the white rice flour, the mixture essentially looked like a regular meringue, smooth and shiny. I also found it quite hard to deflate the egg whites (usually I have the opposite problem, that they deflate too fast), so the final mixture was a little thicker than it should have been. I’m not sure if this is just a feature of white rice flour macarons, or if I just have to do many more folds for white rice flour than for my other flours.
I made a batch and a half of macarons, so I ended up with 84 shells. That’s a lot of macarons! I crushed some Fruit Loops in a ziploc bag and smashed them with a rolling pin to make some Fruit Loop crumbs (I didn’t go to a full crumb, but left some pieces fully broken down, others broken only into halves or quarters. I like the look of varied cereal pieces on top of these macarons). I sprinkled the Fruit Loop crumbs onto half of my macaron shells.
In the past, I’ve just piped my macarons on freehand, but this time I traced out circles onto my parchment paper before piping. I found that the top of a spice container is the right size for macarons, so I use this top for tracing. Though it takes quite a bit of time, this step is definitely worth it. I had very little trouble finding two macarons that matched, and in the end there is something so pleasing about having a set of (almost) uniform macarons.
There is something strangely intimidating about this quantity of macarons. I am so glad that I’m finally getting consistent macarons – I had 2 shells crack on top, out of the 84 that I made, and the rest turned out beautifully!
The cereal milk frosting that I filled these with is a very interesting frosting. It starts with milk (I couldn’t find whole milk so I went with 5% cream for some added richness) that’s been “steeped” with fruit loops. Then it’s mixed with flour over medium heat to form, essenially, a cereal milk pudding. Once the pudding is cooled, it’s then mixed in with butter and sugar on high speed to form the frosting. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first that butter and pudding was going to make a sturdy icing, since I’m so used to making buttercream, but this frosting is really good. It has a stronger butter flavour than a buttercream would, but the flavour pairs very well with the macarons. I only noticed the buttery flavour when tasting the icing on its own, not when paired with a macaron.
As a person who is very clumsy, it’s amazing to me that I made it through this frosting process without dropping or breaking a single macaron. This was also great because it meant that my extra macarons could be used for taste-testing, instead of replacing broken macarons.
The rice flour is actually a great accompaniment to the Fruit Loops and cereal milk frosting. I’m not sure if it’s just a white vs. brown rice flour thing, or if the Fruit Loops take over, but I don’t notice an aftertaste with these macarons. With previous brown rice flour macarons, I’ve noticed a bit of a rice-like aftertaste. It’s mostly overtaken by the filling, but it lingers a little after eating. With these macarons, I think the rice flavour mingles with the cereal milk and Fruit Loops and is hard to distinguish.
Now, a brief note on the allergy/intolerance concerns. or those out there who are gluten- or dairy-free, though the macarons themselves are gluten-free, the Fruit Loops obviously are not. The shells themselves could be easily made gluten-free by swapping out a gluten-free cereal, or you could get a similar colour using sprinkles instead (I’m not sure if there are too many gluten-free rainbow coloured cereals out there). The cereal milk pudding is thickened with 1/4c of flour, but this could be swapped with corn starch. I think when I’ve done dairy-free puddings in the past, I’ve used about 3tbsp of corn starch for 1.5c of liquid, so the corn starch should probably reduced instead of being swapped in 1:1 with flour. Dairy-free would be a bit more difficult, as the frosting not only has milk, but butter as well. The milk could likely be swapped out with rice milk (almond or soy could likely work equally as well, I just like the idea of going full rice with these, since that’s going to add to the cereal-like flavour. But if you don’t have soy or nut allergies, other milk choices should work well. I wouldn’t recommend coconut because I know that has a strong flavour that tends to overpower whatever else you mix it with). The butter would then have to be swapped with a dairy-free alternative like Earth Balance. I wonder, if you made a thicker pudding, if it would be possible to just fill this with a dairy-free pudding instead of turning it into icing. Pudding-filled macarons would certainly be unconventional, but so are nut-free macarons, so I figure at this point, anything goes!
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the end result! A few issues with deflating the eggs and getting nice flat tops, but in the end I think these turned out pretty darned cute!
A side note on the food photography: You may have noticed some shift in quality for the photos here. As my skills have progressed, I really wanted to start taking higher quality photos (previously I was just using my cell phone). I was able to borrow my parent’s DSLR for a little while, so you’ll notice I was able to get some beautiful shots of my first rice flour macarons and croissants. My parents needed their camera back, so alas I now am back to progress shots with my phone. I’ve also used my boyfriend’s simple point-and-shoot camera, which gives pretty good results for the finished product photos, as seen in the last two shots above. But mostly, I’m stuck in a north-facing apartment, in Canadian winter, with some more basic cameras, so the lighting and the shots are not going to be quite as nice for a while. I’d love to buy myself a DSLR, but having just finished school this isn’t the best time for a big camera purchase. I’m hoping to find some good nearly new / lightly used deals so I can get back to taking food glamour shots. Working with my parent’s camera was a dream, and I’ve never seen my food look so good. So bear with me for a little while, until I can either borrow again, or get my own camera for some improved food shots in the future.