'Tis the Season

December 5th, 2007

Chocmacs

I love December, the gentle melancholy as we tiptoe to the end of the year, juxtaposed with the swirling joyousness of the holidays. I always smile when I realize the approach of things that suffuse me with the warm, fuzzy holiday spirit: gaily colored Christmas cards in the mail; children running about in puffy, scarf and coat-plumped bundles; store windows aglitter with all things gleaming and sparkly (I love sparkly things); the murmur of Christmas songs in the air, songs I’ve never learned but somehow to which I always remember the words; and, of course, the prospect of baking batches of Christmas cookies and filling my kitchen with scents of vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, peppermint, cloves – the very perfume of yuletide.

My very first attempt at making a Christmas themed cookie was to take a chocolate chip cookie recipe and add in red and green M&M's (Coincidentally, this brainstorm occurred right when bags of only red and green M&Ms starting showing up in stores). Emboldened by the happy response, I started doing holiday riffs on my favorite cookie recipes every year – there's something about taking a familiar cookie and cutting it out in the shape of snowflakes or presents, or sprinkling it over with red and green sprinkles, that never fails to elicit a delighted reception.

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This year, I'm eschewing the M&M cookies for a few bolder experiments – ones I think have turned out just as well, and that I'm happily tucking away into gift boxes, along with diplomatic suggestions to enjoy as soon as possible. (What can I say? I'm an ardent supporter of enjoying cookies while they're fresh, and I'm terrible at waiting until Christmas Day to open presents). Over the next couple weeks, I'm excited to share with you my cookie cache – starting with that most elegant and party-ready of cookies, the macaron itself.

With its infinite adaptability, the macaron is a natural for customization to the occasion at hand, be it refined or outré. I must admit I'm bedazzled by the visions of M. Hermé, who has included among his macarons de Noël this year a macaron with balsamic vinegar cream, one with black truffles, and a chocolate one with foie gras – oh, the lucky recipients of that box! I'm afraid I can't afford to be that generous and luxurious with my ingredients, but I did fancy making a chocolate macaron, since my Christmas cookie collection always includes something rich and chocolatey. And what more seasonal a touch than to add a bit of peppermint to the ganache filling?

This recipe is adapted from Tartelette's excellent macarons made via the Italian meringue method, creating perfectly smooth and shiny, crackly and chewy little discs ready to be filled and sandwiched. Do you imagine that Santa might enjoy a plate of these waiting for him by the chimney?

Next week – Menu for Hope – and caramels!

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Chocolate Macarons with Peppermint Ganache

makes about 40 macarons

150 g sugar

50 g water

120 g egg whites

35 g sugar

150 g ground almonds

150 g confectioners' sugar

25 g cocoa powder

100 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped in pieces

100 g cream

3/4 tsp peppermint extract

Combine the 150 g sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it cook until it reaches 230 degrees F.

Meanwhile, combine 60 g of the egg whites and the other 35 g of sugar in a stand mixer and whip with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form.

When the syrup has reached 230 degrees F, remove from heat and pour in a slow, steady stream into the mixer bowl while the whisk is still going. Let the whisk keep going until the mixture cools down, about 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture should look shiny and fluffy.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

While the mixture is going, sift the ground almonds, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa powder together into a bowl. If you want your macarons to have the smoothest tops possible, blend the mixture in a food processor and then sift it.

Add in the remaining 60 g egg whites and mix together until it forms together into a moist ball.

Take the cooled meringue from the mixture and fold it carefully into the almond mixture. You may want to add about 1/3 of the meringue first and fold it in to lighten the almond mixture before adding the rest. Do not overfold and deflate the meringue or the batter will turn runny.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Scrape the batter into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2" round tip. Pipe out 2 inches rounds about 1 1/2" apart on the sheets.

Bake the macarons for about 15 minutes in the oven. Let them cool on wire racks before trying to remove them.

To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a medium bowl.

Bring cream to a boil on the stove, then pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a couple minutes and then stir to melt and combine the chocolate with the cream.

Add in the peppermint extract.

Let the ganache cool and firm up; when it is solid enough you can spread it on the macarons as a filling. If it becomes too firm, you can warm it carefully over a pot of simmering water.

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32 Comments so far ↓

  • cakebrain #1

    Hey! Gorgeous macarons! I was just thinking about making chocolate macarons again too. I’m going to try your recipe with the peppermint ganache– it sounds like a good match!

  • Kat #2

    macarons! yours look really good. way to go. hope you are enjoying the season!

  • Sara #3

    Your pictures are stunning! I’ve wanted to make macarons for a while now. I think I am finally confident enough. I’ll be trying your recipe soon, I can’t wait!

  • paris breakfasts #4

    Very pretty if I don’t say so myself…though I would REALLY need to taste them to be sure…Ahem :)
    If only…

  • Nan #5

    Your macarons are just lovely! I think this is the year when I finally try and make some as they’re quickly populating the foodblogosphere.

  • Julie O'Hara #6

    Thanks for posting this! I’m going to make some in the next week or two and I’ll also refer to Tartelette’s post. I was wondering if you let the piped meringue’s sit and rest for a while before baking? I’ve seen this done in other recipes, but there are so many methods.
    Thanks,
    Julie

  • Dana #7

    Gorgeous, Anita. You’ve outdone yourself ;-).

  • Maria #8

    The M&M cookies sound good, but these macaroons are amazing!! Well done!! The peppermint ganache sounds so heavenly!!

  • Madam Chow #9

    Oh, those look wonderful! I have yet to tackle macarons, but I’m going to, soon. And like you, I’ve fallen in love with Alice Medrich’s new book, Pure Dessert. I’m going to make those vodka chocolates tomorrow – wish me luck! I’ve never made chocolates before.
    http://www.mzkitchen@blogspot.com

  • peabody #10

    Well don’t these just say Happy Holidays!

  • Tartelette #11

    Gorgeous and so festive!! I have to confess that since I started making them with a simple French meringue, I have less cracked shells and they are a little less sweet. I think I have finally found the right formula for my deep South Charleston!!!
    I neeeeeed Christmas garlands!!!

  • Patricia Scarpin #12

    These are THE Christmas gift, Anita!

  • veron #13

    Dear Anita,
    You know how crazy I am about these little gems! You did a phenomenal job with the Italian meringue method. Bravo!

  • Hanne #14

    These are beautiful, and your pictures are amazing. What a perfect Christmas treat!

  • monica #15

    glorious macarons! i’m so excited to see the rest of your christmas baking…i’m starting mine this weekend. and i must admit, your prose in this post was just breathtaking.

  • Anh #16

    wonderful treats! I love them.

  • Tea #17

    Great job Anita, wow.I am in anticipation of what you’ll be doing next! I am making Lebkuchen (gingerbread) cookies this weekend :))

  • Tracy #18

    Those macaroons — and the photos of them — are absolutely gorgeous.

  • Big Boys Oven #19

    gorgeous macaroons, gorgeous Anita! you are our babe!

  • ena #20

    Hi,It`s first time that I write a comment.^^
    lastweek I tried Chocolate Macaroon, but it failed. After I read your post, I knew the temperature of meringue was too high(118c) you can check my horrible macarooon at here.
    link to enalee.com
    (first post. but it`s written by Korean.^^;;)

    Good to know you.^^

    btw, I`m graduated from a Le cordon bleu in Korea.^^

  • brilynn #21

    This looks like a wonderful holiday cookie, if only macaroons liked to be made in my kitchen… sadly, they don’t.

  • cheryl #22

    You all are doing so amazing with the macaroons. I am still so afraid to try them. Love the peppermint touch.

  • Andrea #23

    Lovely! I’ve never made macarons, but these are very tempting!!

  • paris breakfasts #24

    I need a Kichen Aid don’t I to even think about making macarons..?
    oui or non?

  • Anita #25

    Thanks all for the sweet comments! I hope if you made them you enjoyed them!

    Carol, you probably would want to have a KitchenAid, unless you’ve got arm muscles of steel!

  • melissa #26

    when you whisk the eggwhites and sugar in the standmixer…do you beat the eggwhites first or combine both the ingredients together straight away? I’ve had problems with my whites falling and not keeping peaks when i add the sugar.

  • Anita #27

    Melissa,
    This is a good question. The sugar helps to stabilize the egg whites, but it also keeps more air from getting incorporated, so that might be what might is happening to your whites. When you whip your whites, they should get foamy and then turn solid white and start to form peaks. At this point you can add part of your sugar in a _slow_ stream, then let the egg whites whip to stiffer peaks, add more sugar, then add the last addition right before the peaks are at the desired stiffness. There are different strategies to adding sugar – you don’t have to do in three additions, some people just add it in a slow steady stream, but the keys are always to wait until the whites have formed peaks first or else you’ll get no volume, and always add the sugar slowly and not all at once or you’ll also deflate the whites.

    Hope this helps!

  • Cc #28

    lovely macarons~~ i want to make some but do you think i can use almond flour instead?

  • Blog #29

    these look amazing!

    just wanted to point out that you left out “of sugar” after the “35 g” in:

    “Meanwhile, combine 60 g of the egg whites and the 35 g in a stand mixer and whip with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form.”

  • Mae @ Passionatemae #30

    really looks sooo yummy!!

  • Rachelle #31

    Hi,

    Just double checking. Shouldn’t we let the macarons form a shell for 30 minutes or so before baking them? Thanks. These look amazing.

    • Anita #32

      Hi Rachelle,

      Thanks! I made these macarons a long time ago, so I don’t remember if I let them sit, but since they’re made with the Italian meringue method, you can let them form a shell – adjust the length of time they spend sitting out based on the results of the first batch.

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