Well, this one is fun! Happy National Animal Cracker Day!
Animal Crackers were imported to the US from England in the late 1800's. Nabisco was not the first to produce Animal Crackers in the US, but when they started marketing them in small boxes that looked like circus-train boxcars, they became the most popular brand.
To celebrate this day, I make Frosted Animal Cracker Macarons!
130g superfine almond flour
130g powdered sugar
90-100g egg whites, room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar - optional
pinch of salt
90g granulated sugar
Sift almond flour and powdered sugar onto parchment paper and set aside.
Pour room temperature egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk and mix on a low/medium speed until the surface of the egg whites is covered in small bubbles. Add in a pinch of cream of tartar and salt, continue to mix until it reaches the soft peak stage.
Slowly add granulated sugar into the eggs and mix on a medium speed for 30 seconds. If desired, add in gel food coloring at this point, then increase the mixing speed to a medium-high speed. Keep mixing until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue in two additions using a circular motion until a thick ribbon of batter runs off the spatula when it is lifted. Be careful not to over-mix the batter! It will take time and experience to get this just right.
Pour the batter into a large piping bag fitted with 1/2 inch piping tip onto the prepared baking sheets. I use silicon mats, placed on upside down baking sheets. Space them about 1-inch apart.
Bang the pans firmly on the counter a few times to release air bubbles. Pop any remaining air bubbles that come to the surface with a toothpick.
Let the macarons rest for 20-60 minutes to develop a skin. The macarons should look matte once the skin has formed.
As the macarons rest, preheat your oven to 300 F. Every oven is different and you may need to set your temp higher or lower.
Bake one tray of macarons at a time on the middle rack of your oven for 16-18 minutes, until the macarons do not wiggle when you test them.
Remove from the oven and let the macarons cool on the pan for about 15 minutes. Gently peel them off of the silicon mat and set aside.
Animal Cracker Buttercream
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temp
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4-1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup melted white chocolate
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
Pink food coloring
Cream butter until smooth and creamy.
Add brown sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt.
Cream until fully incorporated.
For topping, melt Chocolate in microwave in 30 sec increments, stirring in between. Do not overheat. Add Vegetable oil and pink food coloring, mix well. Dip 1/2 macarons (cookie tops) in topping, top with sprinkles. Once white chocolate topping is firm, fill cookies with buttercream and top.