Day 8.  The inspiration?  The Sicilian fig cookie, Cucidati. Tender cookie dough is packed with figs and a combination of fruits, nuts and spices.  There are quite a number of variations on this cookie,  and I have limited the focus to figs, with a few complementary flavours within the buttercream.  Here is my nod to Italy.

{ Cucidati macarons }

* Ingredients *
100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g icing sugar
Coloured spinkles / Nonpareils
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

* Directions *
Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, whip half the egg whites to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle with nonpareils.  Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes.  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.  Refrigerate to set.

{ Cucidati Buttercream }

* Ingredients *
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
125g or 1 stick of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and cloves
1/4 cup chopped figs, or fig jam
2 tablespoons of mixed orange peel, chopped almonds, and raisins

* Directions *
In a bowl over simmering water, whisk the eggs whites and sugar.  Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature reaches 160F or 70C.

Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer and on a medium speed, beat until you reach firm peaks, about 5 minutes.  Slow the speed and add in the room temperature butter one piece at a time.  If the mixture appears to curdle, keep beating on medium speed until smooth again.  Add in the spices, figs, dried fruit and nuts.  Makes 2 cups.

Makes 40-50 shells, and 20-25 finished macarons.

New to making macarons? French macarons :: my ‘how to’ will get you started.