Cotton candy macarons of your dreams! Beautifully marbled macaron shells filled with cotton candy flavored Swiss meringue buttercream.
These beautiful cotton candy macarons scream SUMMER! Maybe it’s just me, but cotton candy is always associated with summer. It’s because growing up, my mom’s friend used to sell cotton candy at a summer festival in Mongolia, equivalent of county fair in the U.S.
And to this day, cotton candy always brings those blissful childhood memories!
How to make cotton candy macarons:
First, bake macaron shells:
- I used my basic macaron recipe for the shells. Check that post for all the details on baking macaron shells.
- To make the fun colored effect, check out my marbled macaron tutorial, where I shared 3 methods to create the swirls.
- And watch this video on how to make multiple colors with one batch of batter.
Make Swiss meringue buttercream:
- Swiss meringue buttercream is less sweet filling, which makes it an ideal for cotton candy version!
- Here’s my ultimate Swiss meringue buttercream tutorial.
- I flavored the buttercream with actual cotton candy.
- For stronger cotton candy flavor, use a cotton candy extract (water-soluble). I recommend this one from Amoretti for better flavor. LorAnn cotton candy extract has a more bubble gum flavor than cotton candy.
Assemble the macarons:
I prefer to fill the macarons with cotton candy buttercream only.
I’ve tested leaving a small well in the middle and stuffing some cotton candy in the center. But as you can imagine, cotton candy melts and it doesn’t contribute much flavor.
Once filled, it’s important to mature the filled macarons in the fridge for at least 8 hours, or preferably 24 hours.
Bring matured macarons to room temperature before serving. About 30 minutes on the counter, if the macarons were in the fridge.
Cotton Candy Macarons
- 100 g super fine almond flour Note 1
- 75 g powdered sugar/confectioners sugar Note 2
- 70 g egg whites at room temperature (about 1/3 cup)
- 75 g fine granulated sugar Note 3
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar optional, Note 4
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- Gel food coloring if desired
- 3 egg whites Note 5
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 3/4 cups (170g) unsalted butter softened and cubed, Note 6
- cotton candy
To make macaron shells:
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or teflon sheet, or silicone mat. (TIP 1: For even air circulation, flip the baking sheets upside down.)
- To prepare dry ingredients, sift together almond flour and powdered sugar twice. Note: If you have up to 2 tablespoons of chunky dry ingredients left in the sifter, you don’t have to replace it. Simply discard those chunky bits.
- To make meringue, in a clean mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium low speed until foamy. (I set it to speed 2 or 4 on my KitchenAid stand mixer.)
- When egg whites are foamy, add cream of tartar and salt and continue to whisk.
- Then slowly add sugar one tablespoon at a time, while mixer is still running. Allow the sugar to dissolve after each addition.
- If you’re making colored shells, add gel food coloring when the meringue reaches soft peaks.
- Continue beating the egg whites on the same medium low speed until hard peaks form. Visual cues: Meringue should ball up inside the whisk, and when you lift the whisk, the meringue should hold a pointy end and have sharp ribs. (See pictures above or watch this meringue video for more information.)
- To make batter, sift almond flour mixture into the meringue. Using a silicone spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until fully incorporated. Then continue to fold the batter until it’s runny enough to draw a figure eight. To test, take a small amount of batter and drop it into the bowl. If the small peaks dissolve into the batter on its own in about 10 seconds, the batter is ready. If not, fold couple more times and test again. Be careful not to over-fold the batter. (TIP: Making french macarons is all about the technique. This is one of the most crucial step. Let me try to describe the folding motion as best as I can: run the spatula clockwise from the bottom, up around the sides and cut the batter in half. If you’re beginner macaron-baker, I suggest to count every fold. It takes roughly about 50 folds to reach the proper consistency. After 50 folds, start testing the batter, and continue testing after every couple folds.)
- To pipe macaron shells, transfer the batter into a pastry bag, fitted with a round tip. (I used this Wilton 2A tip.)
- Hold the pastry bag at straight 90° angle and pipe about 1.5-inch rounds about an inch apart on prepared baking sheets. (TIP 2: I made a perfect macaron template for you. Simply pipe the batter to fill inner circle.)
- Tap the baking sheets firmly on the counter (or using your hand) a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. You can also use a toothpick to burst some large air bubbles. This step ensures smooth tops.
- Let the macarons sit out on the counter for at least 15-30 minutes, maybe up to couple hours, depending on humidity. When you lightly touch the macarons and the batter does not stick to your finger, then it’s ready to go into the oven.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Note: I don't use convection settings. I set my oven to heat from top and bottom.
- To bake, working one baking sheet at a time, place one tray with macarons on the middle rack. (TIP: To prevent browning, place an empty baking sheet on top rack to shield the heat.) Bake for about 15-18 minutes. It’ll take longer for larger macarons. To test for doneness, touch a macaron lightly and try to move it. If it slides and wobbles, bake a minute or so longer. The cooked macarons should be firm to touch and the base shouldn’t move. (TIP: It’s always better to slightly over-bake macarons than under-bake them!)
- Cool the macarons on the sheet for 10-15 minutes, and then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make buttercream filling:
- In a small saucepan, bring a small amount of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer.
- In medium heat-proof bowl (I used my stand mixer bowl), whisk together egg whites and sugar and place it over the saucepan with simmering water. (This is a make-shift double boiler. Make sure the bottom of the top bowl doesn’t touch the water.)
- Cook the egg white mixture until sugar is completely melted and it reaches 160°F (70°C) stirring continuously, about 5 minutes. (This’s my favorite thermometer!)
- Now, remove the bowl with egg white mixture from heat. Then whisk it on medium speed for a minute, then slowly increase the speed to medium high and beat until stiff peaks form and the mixture is cool to touch, about 10 minutes. (It may take longer with a hand-mixer.)
- Once the meringue reached stiff peaks, scrape the side of the bowl with a spatula and add salt.
- Turn on the mixer on medium speed and start adding butter, one tablespoon at a time. Make sure the butter is fully incorporated before adding the next piece. (NOTE: It’s normal if buttercream starts to curlde half way. Keep adding the butter!)
- Keep whisking the buttercream until smooth, light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
- Now, switch to a paddle attachment and add cotton candy. Beat the buttercream until well combined, about a minute.
To assemble macarons:
- Pair the macaron shells by size and arrange them on a wire rack. Line them up so that bottom shells are upside down.
- Pipe a dollop of filling on bottom shells. Place the top shell over the filling and press lightly so the filling spreads till the edges.
- Store the filled macarons in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 24 hours to mature, which allows the filling to soften and flavor the shells.
- To serve, bring the macarons out about 30 minutes prior to serving.