I mentioned the other week how the Peanut has fallen in love with Grace from American Girl and all things French Pastry Shoppe. When Grace's movie came out this summer, we wanted to do something special for our first viewing of American Girl Grace Stirs Up Success.
The Peanut had been playing with the Grace's Sweet Shop app on her iPad and discovered a homemade macaron recipe she wanted to try. We thought it would be such a fun treat for our movie party.
The problem came in with their recipe being not exactly stellar. The dough was stiff and the baked cookie crumbled. Not exactly conducive to kid baking. The Peanut was so disappointed, I set out to find a different kid-friendly version of French Macarons that she could actually help with.
In the end, we mixed and matched a few ideas I found online and made up our own! It was so much fun and they turned out great. We made (from top to bottom in the photo below) tinted Macarons in French Vanilla, Chocolate Ganache, and Pistachio Fluff--my personal favorite.
To make it more of a party, I even went so far as to download the Paris Party Set from Caravan Shoppe. So the Peanut and I could have some special one on one time in the kitchen, we set up Little Pea with the pictures of the Eiffel tower and the city scapes and asked her to color them up while we made the macarons.
The Peanut was so excited to wear her matching apron from Grace's bakery for our cookie session but she loved it even more that I let her crack all the eggs and do as much of the baking as possible:
We wanted a variety of flavors and colors for our macarons but we didn't want to be drowning in cookies. I decided we would make one single batch of the batter for our cookies and then divide it into 3 equal portions in separate bowls for tinting.
I let the Peanut pick the colors for our vanilla cookie base. She chose pink, green, and blue.
Since all the cookies were vanilla, we played with the flavors for the filling. I made tiny portions of a whipped vanilla buttercream frosting, chocolate ganache, and a pistachio fluff. All three got 2 thumbs up from our testers but the girls both loved the chocolate one best and I devoured the pistachio.
Since we only wanted a couple of cookies for each of us during the party, I stored all the fillings separately in the fridge. We assembled leftover cookies as we wanted them but the buttercream and chocolate had to come to room temperature before they could be spread easily. The pistachio worked the best for impromptu filling later.
To be fair, these are not *exactly* macarons. They are much more like dressed up whoopie pies made on a smaller scale. We experimented with a more legitimate recipe and discovered that real macarons are very EXACT. At her current level of skill, the Peanut wasn't able to really help with the baking which was no fun. But, the real deal is so delicious, they'd be a great project for a more advanced baking partner to help with and might be worth trying again at some point.
Has your daughter discovered Grace yet? I watched the movie with the girls and thought it was super cute. I think that it would make a perfect weekend party for your daughter and her friends to get together and bake & watch the movie with their treats.
You might also enjoy:
- An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success, the movie
- Grace, Book 1
- Grace Stirs It Up, Book 2
- Grace Makes It Great, Book 3
- Silicone baking mats: For making our version of macarons, these are essential. Be sure to grab the size that works for your pans.
- Les Petits Macarons: Inspiration for making legitimate macarons!
- Macarons Baking Set: The silicone matt and tools are perfect for baking the real deal.
- Macaron Stationery Set: For when baking them is just too much. Ha!
For the cookies:
- 1 box vanilla cake mix
- 3 tbsp milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- food coloring
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 stick of butter at room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 pkg pistachio instant pudding, prepared according to pie filling instructions
- 1 container of Cool Whip
For the Cookies:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the cookie ingredients until thoroughly wet.
Divide the dough evenly into three bowls and tint each one a color of your choice.
Roll dough into 1 inch sized balls and place 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet.
Bake 7-9 minutes or until set.
When slightly cooled, move from the cookie sheet to wire baking racks to cool completely before filling.
For the Fillings:
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave by heating in 30-second batches and stirring until smooth. Pour in the cream, stir to combine. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more cream at a time until proper consistency is reached.
Beat the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine.
Prepare the pistachio pudding according to the package directions for PIE FILLING. (This is thicker than normal pudding.) Gently fold in the Cool Whip to great the fluffy frosting-like filling.