With my presents all purchased, I decided to do some holiday baking this rainy Sunday. With Bing Crosby crooning in the background, I was determined to make some Christmas-inspired French macarons.
A couple of years ago, I purchased a Lekue Macaron Kit, which comes with a nonstick silicone mat, batter-dispenser “pen,” and a handful of recipes. I’ve only used it once, when the salted caramel I made as a macaron filler proved to be a little too runny to hold the delicate cookies together. So, this time I was intent on making a buttercream filling, which turned out to be quick and simple. By no means do you need this kit. I like it because of the silicone mat. This time I opted to use pastry bags (well, sandwich bags) in lieu of the batter-dispenser tool, and I have yet to try the recipes that come in the kit. Note, the silicone mat makes macarons that are a bit smaller than those you might find in bakeries. If you want larger macarons, skip the kit altogether and, instead, draw circular outlines of your desired size on parchment paper, then flip over the paper to line your cookie sheet (you should be able to see the circles through the parchment paper). I read a number of different macaron recipes, and the below recipe is an experiment based on a few different recipes and tips I’ve found helpful.
Chocolate Peppermint Macarons
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup almond flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Red food coloring (gel)
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- Separate the egg whites and let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours.
- Sift the cocoa powder, almond flour, and powdered sugar together several times.
- Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Continue to beat until the egg whites thicken. Add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Mix in gel food coloring, to your liking (a little goes a long way).
- Once you’ve reached your desired color, add the sifted mixture, a little at a time, gently folding it into the egg white mixture, until combined.
- Fill a pastry bag (or Lekue “pen”) with batter and pipe the batter into the circle guides (either onto the Lekue silicone mat or onto the other side of your pre-made guide).
- Take the cookie sheet and firmly tap it against the counter a couple of times, to help level out the tops.
- Let the batter sit for about half an hour. You will know it is time to bake once a very thin crust forms on the top. (Gently touch one of the tops, and if it is not sticky to the touch, it is time to bake.)
- Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Let the macaron shells cool completely before removing from cookie sheet. Be very careful when removing, as they will be very fragile. I recommend gently peeling the silicone mat or parchment paper from the shells.
- For the buttercream frosting, run the room temperature butter on medium in a stand mixer for a few minutes.
- Add the powered sugar in four or five batches, until combined.
- Add the vanilla and peppermint extracts until combined.
- Once combined, fill a pastry bag (or cleaned Lekue pen) with the peppermint buttercream frosting.
- Handling the cooled macaron shells gently, pipe the frosting into the shells and assemble.