I am a huge peppermint fan, so naturally candy canes are like my favorite holiday treat ever. Plus they are lots of fun to eat! I still can’t shake the habit of getting the end of the candy cane into a needle fine point – and man the frustration when the point breaks off a little too soon and you are forced to start again. Sigh. Anyone else do this too? Or maybe when you were a kid? I’m mostly over the annoying habit of poking people with it tho
To me nothing pairs better with candy canes than chocolate. It’s the ultimate. I just can’t get enough! So why not cram it into my new favorite little cookie?
I originally thought about sending these for the cookie swap, but decided against it since they are so darn fragile. Instead I wrapped up a dozen of them (with a lovely Starbucks gift card) for my work holiday gift exchange. The next day when I came in I had numerous people ask me if I made them or if I got them from a bakery. Day = made.
But making these little guys wasn’t as easy as my last few flavor combos. I initially tried to adapt my favorite basic macaron base from BraveTart, but something about the chocolate to powdered sugar ratio was making them all whack. I literally made the same recipe 4 times making small changes to try to get it right, with no luck. I separated a few more eggs then went to bed. The next day I searched around for a new chocolate macaron base that used Dutch processed cocoa powder and gave it a whirl – they were absolutely perfect!
I whipped up a quick peppermint buttercream (I like a strong peppermint flavor so taste as you add so it’s not too strong for you!), I filled them and rolled them in crushed candy canes. Love at first bite. Dang these things were so good – plus they look super cute and festive!
- 110 gm almond flour
- 200 gm minus 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 100 gm egg whites (from about 3 eggs)
- 50 gm granulated sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon peppermint extract
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
- 4-6 candy canes, crushed into small pieces
- Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large (18”) pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip, along with two sheet pans lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Sift together almond flour, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a medium bowl and set aside. If a significant portion won’t go through your sifter (more than 2 tablespoons) you’ll need to grind them up until they do.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes. They will not seem especially foamy at that point. Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.
- Whip for a final minute on the highest speed. At the end of this minute, you should have a very stiff, dry meringue. When you remove the whisk attachment, there will be a big clump of meringue in the center, just knock the whisk against the bowl to free it. If the meringue has not become stiff enough to clump inside the whisk, continue beating for another minute, or until it does so.
- Now dump in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a rubbing/smearing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl. This should take about 30-45 turns/folds and should be lava like in texture – this enough to mound up on itself, but fluid enough to melt back down.
- Transfer about half the batter to a piping bag. Pipe the batter into circles on the baking sheet. Keep in mind batter will continue to spread just a bit. Refill the piping bag after piping out half of macarons.
- After piping your macarons, take hold of the sheet pan and hit it hard against your counter three times, rotating 90 degrees after each tap.
- Bake for 18 minutes, or until you can cleanly peel the parchment paper away from a macaron. Let cool on the pans before peeling the macarons from the parchment.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Beat in extract and salt until well combined about 15 seconds.
- Add powdered sugar; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and add heavy cream. Beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 20 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.
- Match up macarons in pairs based on size and shape. Fill a pastry bag fitted with the buttercream and pipe a quarter sized mound of buttercream into half of the shells, then sandwich them with the other half.
- Roll the edges of the macaron into the crushed candy caned so that the candy cane pieces adhere to the buttercream center. If desired, use a dry pastry brush to clean up excess candy cane powder off of macaron shells.