Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Candy Cane Macarons with a Whipped White Chocolate Peppermint Ganache

It's December 25th, so I'm going to go a bit out of order here and talk about my most festive holiday macarons from this year - Candy Cane, of course!

Marbled peppermint shells, rolled in crushed candy canes for an added but of pepperminty crunch.
I adore cooking with mint of any sort, but peppermint especially conjures up feelings of magical winter wonderlands, even in sunny Southern California where the temperature has been at a frigid sixty degrees.  It's a great flavor because it can be made either refreshing or comforting, it pairs with milk, dark, or white chocolate, and what better way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year than with these lovely marbled shells?  

I've tried topping my shells with crushed candy canes before baking them, but the candy usually melts too much for my taste.  This year I filled them with a whipped white chocolate peppermint ganache and rolled them in freshly smashed candy canes, which worked beautifully.  

This was the first time I tried marbling a shell, and it was actually successful!  It's just a few minor tweaks to my usual recipe, and a few extra piping bags.  Here's how I did it...

- 120 g almond meal, divided
- 200 g powdered sugar, divided 
- 100 g egg whites
- 32 g granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

- 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
- Powdered red food coloring (I like LorAnns) 
1) Prep your silicon baking mats (or parchment paper) and your piping bag.  I use a round tip (Aetco #11) for my macarons.  For marbled shells you will need three piping bags - two will be inserted inside of the third, which will be the one that has the tip.  

2) Place your egg whites in a stainless steel bowl with the cream of tartar.  If using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment, making sure that the whisk and bowl are completely clean before adding any ingredients.

3) Add the first 60 grams of almond meal and 100 grams of powdered sugar to a food processor, and process for about ten to twenty seconds.  Sift into a mixing bowl and set aside.  Do the same with the remaining almond meal and powdered sugar, and then set aside in a different bowl.  You are essentially going to be making two batters.  Add your powered food coloring to one of these bowls, like I did in my photo below.

Two bowls of dry ingredients, ready to go!
4) Begin mixing your egg whites on medium low speed, until they start to get to early stages of soft peaks.  Increase the speed to medium, and once soft peaks start forming, slowly add the granulated sugar. 

5) Continue mixing on medium until stiff peaks are about to form.  Add on the peppermint extract and whip until stiff peaks have formed.  

6) Add half of your egg white mixture to one bowl, and half to the other.  Here's the first tricky part: you'll need to mix them both to the same consistency, since they will be combined in the final shell.  This is definitely not a good technique for a beginner to try, but it is a good solution if you need two different color shells.  

7) Once your batters have reached equal lava consistency, transfer them to two piping bags that have no tips attached.  It's best to use disposable piping bags for this, since a smaller opening works better when you have to combine two batters, and you can cut them to size.  

8) Feed both of these piping bags into the third piping bag (the one fitted with the tip), making sure that both batters are feeding into the tip.  

9) Slowly pipe your batters together so that they come out at the same time.  It may take a shell or two to get both of them piping together, but once you do you should have an even shell.  I create a little swirl at the end to accentuate the marbled look.  Pipe these as you would any other batch, and be sure to get the air bubbles out of them by rapping them against the counter a few times when you're done piping.  

They look like little waves.
10) The shells have to rest for at least thirty minutes, so while they do you can preheat your oven to 300 degrees, or whatever temperature you've found works best for you.   

11) Once your shells have rested, put the macarons in your oven on the bottom rack and bake for 16-18 minutes.  If your batters were both consistent, they should cook up perfectly, but if you notice one side sliding a bit you may have inconsistent batters.  Don't worry, your cookies will still be delicious - they just might not look perfect! 

Success!  I wasn't expecting that.
12) Let the shells cool before removing them from the silpat.  

The filling for these is another one of my favorite whipped white chocolate ganaches, with a refreshing touch of peppermint.  I went a bit light on the extract since I was also rolling these in candy canes, so feel free to adjust as desired.

- 9 oz white baking chocolate
- 4 oz heavy cream
- 1/8 tsp peppermint extract
- Crushed candy canes for rolling

1) Put your white chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set aside.  If you're using candy canes, put them in a plastic baggie and beat the snot out of them with something heavy, like a rolling pin or a mallet.  

2) While you're cleaning up the remnants of the obliterated candy canes from your counter, add the heavy cream to a small saucepan over low heat.  Heat until it just begins to simmer.

3) Pour the heated cream over the white chocolate and let sit for a minute.  Add the peppermint extract and whisk together to combine.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

4) Once cool, use a hand mixer to whip the ganache until it lightens in color and increases in volume a bit.  You should end up with a light, airy, heavenly ganache that smells and tastes wonderfully minty.

5) Transfer to a piping bag and start filling your shells.  After you create each cookie, roll it in the crushed candy canes and set aside.  

These were the prettiest (and also one of the tastiest) this year.
6) Don't forget to let these age in the fridge for at least twenty four hours so that the flavors have time to combine and become all the more wonderful.  Serve these with a piping hot cup of hot cocoa, or give them out in lieu of candy canes.  

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!  

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