Peppermint Bark Macarons
‘Tis the season for non-stop cookie baking! And now that I have become known for my love of baking macarons, they have become my #1 request from friends and family every Christmas. Though I, of course, already made my traditional vanilla ones (but in the shape of snowmen!), I wanted to mix it up a bit this year with a new flavor. Chocolate peppermint has become one of my favorite winter flavors and I wanted to come up with a macaron flavor that honors it!
This recipe is extremely simple and can easily be adapted to just plain vanilla macarons by using vanilla extract. Feel free to skip the chocolate dipping too if you want plain peppermint macs, I just always look for an excuse to dip things in chocolate!
Start by sifting together almond flour, powdered sugar and salt in a large bowl and set aside. With either a stand or hand mixer, whip egg whites on high for a minute until frothy. Gradually add granulated sugar and peppermint extract and continue whipping until stiff peaks form, about 3-5 more minutes. Tip: avoid making these on an especially humid day, because the egg whites won’t stiffen as well. Also, to ensure “stiff peaks”, bring eggs to room temperature before whipping.
Using a rubber spatula, scoop egg whites into almond flour mixture and gradually fold in just until incorporated. Divide batter in half and separate into two bowls. Add red food dye to one bowl and continue to gently fold until desired color is reached and the batter reaches a texture that allows you to pick up the spatula and draw a continuous figure 8. Do not overmix! It should be just fluid enough to flow off the spatula in a continuous ribbon, but not any more liquid than that. Leave the second bowl of batter undyed, but fold with a spatula to reach the same consistency.
Using a rubber spatula, take a piping bag fitted with a half inch round tip and spoon the red batter into one side of the piping bag and the white batter into the opposite side. Practice piping 1” circles on a paper plate until you get a red and white swirl. Continue piping circles onto a parchment or silicone mat-lined cookie sheet.
Once piped, allow circles to dry out for 45 minutes-1 hour, allowing a skin to form on each one before baking. If you lightly touch each macaron, no batter should come off on your finger. Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes, one sheet at a time. Rotate the sheet after 7 minutes to ensure even baking. You will know the macarons are done baking if you very gently press down on them and they don’t “smoosh” down at all. Allow them to cool completely on the baking sheet.
While the macaron shells are cooling, prepare the buttercream. Whip butter with a stand or hand mixer for about 5 minutes, until light in color and texture. Add in powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and milk and whip until fully incorporated. Scoop into a piping bag and pipe in between two macaron shells, creating a sandwich. Place the macarons in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, allowing the buttercream to firm up before dipping them in chocolate.
Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate. Chop the chocolate finely and place 3/4 of the chocolate in a microwavable bowl. Microwave at 50% power, stirring every 20 seconds until the chocolate is mostly, but not completely, melted. There should still be some chunks of chocolate unmelted. Finally, add in the remaining chocolate and continue microwaving at 50% for no more than 5 seconds at a time. Continue until completely melted.
If you want to learn more about tempering chocolate, I highly recommend this video from America’s Test Kitchen.
Submerge each macaron halfway into the chocolate and place on parchment paper. Cover with sprinkles immediately, before the chocolate hardens. Allow chocolate to harden completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator before serving. Store at room temperature for a week or in the freezer for up to a month.
Serve with a cup of hot chocolate or some eggnog. Happy holidays!!!