One thing I’ve learned while teaching culinary classes at Williams Sonoma is that people go gaga for French Macarons. And rightly so– I myself have had a long-standing love affair with the ethereal pastry. My flavors of choice in my most recent holiday-themed class were vanilla cranberry and peppermint. The cranberry had cranberry sauce in the middle with a vanilla buttercream border. I flavored the peppermint macarons with extract and candy canes. The candy cane Christmas Macarons were an overwhelming favorite. So much so that I chose them to grace the 12 Days of Christmas lineup.
What is a French Macaron?
Known around the world, a French macaron (pronounced MAC-a-ROHN) is an almond flour-meringue cookie. The cookies sandwich fillings that can range from buttercream to ganache to jams. My filling of choice is buttercream. At my latest French macaroon class I demoed two flavors with one shell. I love that you get two varieties but only have to make one batch of shells and buttercream. Whipping up two different fillings is easy. You only make one batch of buttercream, divide it in half, and flavor each half as desired.
Are macarons hard to make?
I’m not going to pretend that French Macarons are easy; however, they are doable. There are many factors that go into making a successful batch of French Macarons: humidity, stiffness of egg whites, and vigorousness of the macaronage step. See my other macaron recipes for more information.
This Christmas Macarons recipe is a rip off of my basic vanilla flavored Macarons; however, instead of the vanilla in the shells and the buttercream you would use peppermint extract. Crushed candy canes are perfect finish to roll the completed macaron sandwich in. Is there anything more Christmassy than this beautiful sight? I think not.
Candy Cane Christmas Macarons
These Christmas Macarons are flavored with peppermint extract and crushed candy canes and make a lovely addition to a holiday cookie plate.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup egg whites in a glass measuring cup
- pinch salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- pink gel food coloring
- 1/4 cup butter softened
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 5 candy canes unwrapped and crushed
Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 300 degrees (275 if you have a hot oven). Sift together the powdered sugar and almond meal into a large bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed, then increase to high when frothy. When frothy and white, add sugar. Beat until stiff and glossy (stiff peaks), about 5 minutes. Swipe a toothpick through the pink gel food coloring and swipe it through the meringue. Add the extract and mix until fully incorporated.
Pour almond mixture in the bowl, and using a rubber spatula, fold the ingredients together using a figure-8 pattern. Swipe down the middle to deflate the egg whites, then fold around the bowl. It should take no more than 30 strokes. Deflate the egg whites but be gentle.
Stop once it oozes like lava but is nowhere near runny.
Using a spatula, transfer mixture to a gallon Ziplock bag.
Squeeze all the air and twist it closed. Snip the corner with scissors so that you have about a 1/4 inch opening.
Pipe dollops of batter slightly bigger than a Hershey’s kiss onto the parchment.
Lightly rap each sheet on the counter to get rid of air bubbles.
Let them sit (after all have been piped) for at least 20 minutes.
They should be slightly dry to the touch and not sticky. If it’s humid, turn on the air conditioner in your kitchen or blow a fan.
Bake in the oven (watching carefully) one batch at a time for 12-15 minutes.
You know they’re done when they are hard and stiff to the touch.
Let them cool completely on the parchment while you prepare your buttercream.
Beat the butter in the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. When it's light and fluffy, add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until it's proper consistency. Add the cream. Add more sugar if it's too runny, more cream if it's too thick. Be sure to scrape the bottom. Add 3 tablespoons crushed candy canes to the buttercream.
To fill them, match each cookie to another of the same size. Pipe the filling, (in a Ziplock bag with the tip snipped) starting from the outer edge in a circle and ending in the middle. Sandwich the two halves.
Roll each macaron in crushed candy canes.
Refrigerate for 24 hours and up to 3-4 days.
Take some out an hour before you want to eat them and let them come to room temp. Enjoy!
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