Candy Cane Macarons

Macarons. Or, as I like to refer to them, the most finicky little cookie ever. But man, when they’re done right, they are SO good! It’s the sole reason I keep making them despite achieving good results only about half of the time. I only attempt macarons about once a year, so I’m sure I’m not doing myself any favors by practicing so infrequently but it is what it is :)

After I pop them in the oven, I usually hold my breath and cross my fingers for a few minutes then turn on the oven light and sneak a peek, holding out hope I’ll see little feet on the shells. If I do, I breathe a sigh of relief, but I’m still not out of the woods yet. In fact, I’ve made quite a few batches that looked good, but had problems with hollow interiors. There are a ton of resources on the web (maybe too many!) for making macarons, but these are a few of my favorite sites. Maybe someday I’ll get to the point where I’m confident enough to do step-by-step photos for you guys but I’m not there yet…

Candy Cane Macarons

These candy cane macarons caught my eye a few years ago and I was determined to make them happen for the holidays this year. I always make my macarons with slivered almonds but I only had sliced almonds on hand this time which is why my shells are speckled and don’t look perfectly smooth on top. Aside from the difference in appearance, the sliced seemed to work fine. The macarons are filled with a luscious peppermint Swiss meringue buttercream and then rolled in crushed candy canes to make them extra festive. Upon biting into my first one I immediately remembered why I keep trying to get these right; they may be temperamental, but macarons are so delicate and delicious!

Candy Cane Macarons
from Tartlette via Annie’s Eats

{Note: only weight measurements were provided and I didn’t attempt to convert to volume measurments. You’ll have the best results if you stick with weights and use a scale to make these.}

Macaron Shells
200 grams confectioners’ sugar
110 grams almonds (blanched, slivered, or sliced)
90 grams egg whites (aged at room temperature for 1 day)
25 grams granulated sugar

Peppermint Swiss Meringue Buttercream Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites (about 60 grams)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

crushed candy canes, for garnish

Line two rimmed baking sheets with silicone baking mats (or parchment paper, but I have better results with the silicone baking mats).

To make the macarons: Add the confectioners’ sugar and almonds to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer still running, slowly add the sugar. Beat the mixture until it is shiny and stiff peaks form. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the almond mixture into the egg white mixture – you want to work quickly but try not to deflate the egg whites too much. Fold until no streaks remain; the batter will be thick (thicker than I expected) and should fall from the rubber spatula in thick ribbons.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip. Pipe 1-1 1/2 inch rounds onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space between them. Set aside at room temperature for an hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 280 F. Bake for about 15-20 minutes – the tops should look dry and matte. (I cheated by removing one from the baking sheet to try it and see if it was done, I’m not experienced enough to be able to tell by appearance.) Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the macarons cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Add the sugar and egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Set over a pan of simmering water and heat, whisking almost constantly, until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved. You can test it by rubbing a bit of the mixture between your fingertips – it shouldn’t feel grainy.

Attach the bowl to your stand mixer which is fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high speed until the mixture is a fluffy meringue and is cool to the touch, about 6-8 minutes. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces, and, with the mixer on low, add one at a time, letting each incorporate before adding the next. Increase the speed to medium high and continue beating until the butter is incorporated and the frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t worry if it looks curdled, just keep beating and it will come together. Mix in the peppermint and vanilla extracts.

Once cool, pair the cookies by size. Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe frosting onto the flat side of one cookie from each pair – I would typically pipe it in the middle then press the cookies together to push the frosting out to the edge, but these shells are fragile so I actually piped to cover the entire surface before sandwiching the cookies. Roll the sides of the assembled macarons in the crushed cane canes to garnish.

Makes 20 macarons