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Survive Lent with Scrumptious Cinnabon Macarons!

Hello, darlings!

If you're a practicing Christian, today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the first official day of Lent. The good news is that Easter - and hopefully spring! - are on their way. The bad news is that many of us will be renouncing some of our favorite pleasures in symbolic recognition of Jesus' 40 days in the desert. Poetic, yes, but also a bit stinky!

Highlights from TIME's article about what Twitter users are giving up for Lent included boys and Nutella, but the most popular sacrifice - and my sacrifice - is chocolate.

After all those cupcakes on Valentine's Day, I could probably use the detox from the sweet stuff! However, baking without chocolate does kind of limit my options for the next six weeks. When I found myself wondering what scrumptious treats I could make today without breaking my chocolate fast, I was dumbfounded until I remembered the one thing I kept saying I would make and never had: macarons! 

Until today, I was a macaron virgin. I had always wanted to try them, if only because I just loved how beautiful and classically-French they were, but they just looked so complicated! Even the word "meringue" sounded intimidating. So this morning, I was pleased to discover that macarons are actually a lot easier (and even more tasty!) than they look - and you can easily make them with no chocolate.

There are thousands of ways to flavor a macaron, but my Cinnabon creation really hit the spot (but consider yourself warned: they are sweet!). Vanilla macarons dusted in cinnamon sugar combined with a cinnamon cream cheese filling...mmm. My official verdict on the macaron: a delicious and delectable way to curb your sweet tooth and survive Lent, sans chocolate! And, as if they weren't great enough already, they're also gluten-free, so almost anyone can bake and enjoy :)

Cinnabon Macarons
Makes 13 macarons 

1 cup ground almonds
(I used the "chop" setting on my blender)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon sugar, for dusting

4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a small bowl, crack and separate egg whites. Transfer to large bowl and whisk with granulated sugar until combined. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on a low setting for 2 minutes. Continue to beat on medium for 2 more minutes. Then, beat on medium to high for 2-4 minutes, until the mixture becomes glossy and white. When the beater is removed, the mixture should form stiff peaks.
  3. Dump the ground almonds, vanilla, and powdered sugar into the bowl and fold several times with a large spatula, until the batter is well-combined. It should be thick, but fluid. 
  4. This next part got a little bit messy for me, so be careful! Line two baking sheets with waxed paper. Using the spatula or a large spoon, transfer the batter to a gallon-size Ziploc bag (or an actual pipette, if you have one) and seal. Squeeze the dough to one of the bottom corners of the plastic bag and cut off the corner (or use a pipette with a round tip). Use this makeshift pipette to pipe small circles, about 3/4 inch in diameter, on the wax paper, leaving at least an inch of space between each circle. My batter made about twenty-six circles; two circles will form a macaron. 
  5. Let the batter sit for 15-30 minutes (the longer you leave it, the better your macarons will turn out - my second batch came out perfectly, but my first batch cracked) until you can poke the top of a macaron without the batter sticking to your finger. Dust with powdered sugar and bake one sheet at a time for 12-15 minutes. They are done when the top is firm. 
  6. While your macarons are baking, whip up some cinnamon cream cheese frosting for the filling: Soften the butter for 10-20 seconds in the microwave. Then, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a medium bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Finally, beat the sugar and cinnamon into the mixture. The frosting will be ivory in color and thick and creamy in consistency.
  7. Remove your macarons from the oven and be sure to let them cool completely, 10-20 minutes - if you do not let them cool at least 10 minutes, they will crumble when you try to pick them up. When they are cooled and ready, carefully peel two macarons at a time from the wax paper. Spread a generous layer of frosting on the flat side of one macaron and sandwich another macaron on top (I joked to my brother that macarons are like French Oreos!). It is recommended that you refrigerate them for 24-48 hours before eating, but I had a few right away and they were still just as delicious!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe for Cinnabon macarons! Now that I've discovered my newfound love for macaron-making, I may have to do this again very, very soon...when I was trying to think up a yummy chocolate-less flavor, I was thinking pumpkin spice sounded good, but we didn't have any pumpkin! Hmm :)

As always, my loyal readers, thank you for visiting the Chick Lit Kitchen! Stay tuned for (possibly?) more macaron recipes and the next installment of Holden & I, coming this Sunday the 22. As for those of you observing Lent with me, good luck in all your sacrifices (especially those of you who gave up chocolate!) and God bless you all!

XOXO, Haley


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