COOKIES FOR THE HOLIDAYS: MACARONS

I admit that macarons per se might not be firmly associated with the holiday season, but one of the things I love about them is their versatility. Like fantastic actors, they can play any part, as long as you dress them properly. Today I share six versions with a festive winter aura.

BASIC MACARON RECIPE CAN BE FOUND IN THIS POST

YIN & YANG PEPPERMINT MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe from basic method, divided in two

For filling:
160g powdered sugar
57g unsalted butter, softened (4 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
pinch of salt
heavy cream or milk to adjust consistency, if needed

When your macaron batter is starting to get homogeneous, divide it in two portions, dye one green and one red, and proceed to the end of macaronage. Place each batter in a separate piping bag, and then cut the tips and side them side by side into another bag (if you have two sizes, it is a good idea to use two smaller bags inside the larger one, but it is totally doable with bags of the same size).

Pipe shells and bake as specified in the recipe.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, peppermint extract and salt. Whisk in low-speed at first, the increase speed and whisk until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a very small amount of milk or heavy cream.

Pipe the filling in shells, close them, and leave in fridge overnight to mature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The amount of peppermint extract to use will depend on the brand you use, how strong it is, and of course, your personal taste. Next time I make them, I will include some crushed peppermint candy. I did not have any around at the time, and we are pretty strict with our rules. Grocery store twice a week, with a list in hand, in and out quickly. So I really did not want to break the rules to go get the candy. Instead, the macs were kept simple. As to the yin-yang design, you do need the batters in two separate bags, otherwise they mix too much during piping. The effect is also nice, but will be less dramatic.

CARDAMON-GANACHE MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe from basic method

for the filling:
100g heavy cream
100g milk chocolate
4 cardamon pods
10g butter)

Make the macaron batter dyed with a dark caramel color (I used Progel Chestnut). When shells are cold, decorate with air-brush using gold color and any stencil you like.

For the filling, heat the cream with cardamon pods, crushed. When almost boiling, close the pan and let it sit for 30 minutes. Pass the cream through a sieve to remove the cardamon, weigh the cream, adjust back to 100g, and heat to almost boiling then pour over the chocolate cut in small pieces. Let it sit for 5 minutes then whisk gently to dissolve the chocolate. Add the softened butter and whisk until smooth.

Let the ganache sit at room temperature until it reaches a consistency appropriate for piping. You can also whip the ganache if you like it to have more body, but don’t overdo it or it might get grainy.

Fill shells and let the macarons sit in the fridge overnight before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I adore cardamon, and made this ganache twice already. On my second time I added ground cardamon together with the pods, and used them to fill shortbread-type cookies. It was very very good.

SNOWFLAKE BLACK WALNUT MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe from basic method

for the filling:
4 ounces cream cheese (half a regular package), softened
57g butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon black walnut extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
pinch of salt
225 g powdered sugar
1/4 cup ground Black Walnuts, lightly toasted

Add the cream cheese, butter and black walnut extract to a bowl and beat until very smooth with an electric hand-held mixer. Add cinnamon, cloves, and pinch of salt, then slowly add powdered sugar,  whisk until smooth and fluffy. Fold in the black walnuts.

Fill the shells. If desired, decorate the top with royal icing to make patterns of snowflakes, or any other pattern you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Snowflakes are everywhere in cookie decoration these days, and of course, it’s the perfect time of the year to showcase them. They are easy to draw, just 4 straight lines criss-crossed, and then go crazy with the little details. I’ve been practicing with tip-less bags, but for these drawings I found it easier to couple the bag with a very fine tip, number 1 from Wilton.

But you can also do other styles of piping like this little rosette. Just mark the center, 8 points around it, take a deep breath and pipe!

The black walnut filling was featured in the blog back in July, but this time I added cinnamon and cloves, inspired by Phil’s family recipe for “Cottage Cookies” which I must make to share with you at some point. In fact, he was surprised that it is not yet in the blog.

ORANGE AND CRANBERRY MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe from basic method

For filling:
160g powdered sugar
57g unsalted butter, softened (4 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon orange extract extract
zest of half a large orange
pinch of salt
heavy cream or milk to adjust consistency, if needed
cranberry relish or jam (I used store-bought)

Make the macarons using orange gel food color.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, orange extract, zest and salt. Whisk in low-speed at first, the increase speed and whisk until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a very small amount of milk or heavy cream.

Fill shells with a small dollop of cranberry jam in the center, surround it with a circle of orange buttercream. Decorate with Royal icing or air brushing, if so desired.

Leave macarons in fridge overnight to mature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

For these macarons, I used two different styles of decoration, one with Royal icing concentric swirl, and another in which I sprayed the two sides of the shells with coral and orange dyes, trying to mimic the colors associated with the two flavors. Some candy melt drizzle and sprinkles for good measure…

I loved this combination of flavors, cranberry and orange is a real classic, so I highly recommend you try this one.

EGGNOG MACARONS
(filling from The Jam Lab)

1 recipe from basic method

For the filling:
4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons rum extract (or rum if you don’t mind the alcohol)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 ½ cups to 4 cups powdered sugar

Make macaron shells and dye with green gel color.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, salt, spices and flavoring. Whisk in low-speed at first, the increase speed and whisk until creamy and smooth. Add heavy cream until the consistency is right for piping. Assemble shells with the filling, if desired you can air-brush with gold details using a stencil.

Keep the macarons in the fridge overnight before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Most recipes that call for eggnog use “the real thing” added to buttercream. We don’t drink eggnog, so I did not want to buy a big carton that would sit in the fridge. This recipe from JamLab is perfect. I used rum extract because my macarons are donated and alcohol is not allowed. If you want to do as I did, I recommend this extract.

GINGERBREAD MACARONS
(filling from Pies and Tacos)

for the filling:
160g powdered sugar
57g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
milk or heavy cream if needed

Make the shells and use a caramel food dye to color the batter.

For the filling, cream butter using a hand-held electric mixer until very creamy. Add the sugar, spices and flavoring, keep whisking at low-speed at first, then increase the speed. If needed, adjust consistency with heavy cream or milk.

Pipe filling on shells, and decorate with a band of gold luster. Stick little gingerbread-shaped sprinkles using small dots of royal icing. Leave macarons in the fridge overnight before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I loved the flavor of this filling. As to the decoration, I quickly realized that even if the gingerbread men looked quite cute on the shell, glueing them did not bring me joy. They are so delicate, and it was quite labor-intensive to adjust them with tweezers on top of the icing. I made a few and then switched to plan B. There is a limit to my Zen.

Of all the macarons from this post, the one that got the highest praise was…… drum roll…. drum roll….. the EGGNOG! I was surprised by how many of the testers said it was maybe the best ever from all the ones I’ve shared over the past few months.

I hope you enjoyed this series, featuring one of the concoctions I love to bake the most… Stay tuned for the final post on Holiday Cookies, in which I’ll feature Springerle.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Great American Baking Show

TWO YEARS AGO: Broccoli Souffle

THREE YEARS AGO: Panettone Time!

FOUR YEARS AGO: How the Mighty Have Fallen

FIVE YEARS AGO: Festive Night at Central

SIX YEAR AGO: The Perfect Boiled Egg

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Light Rye Sourdough with Cumin and Orange

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Homemade Calzones

NINE YEARS AGO: Plum-Glazed Duck Breasts

TEN YEARS AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: New York Deli Rye


9 thoughts on “COOKIES FOR THE HOLIDAYS: MACARONS

    • you are too kind! I am just having fun trying different things, I get inspired by people who are TONS better than me, what they can do with shapes is just unreal, I struggle and most of my alternative shapes are not good – but I keep trying

      Liked by 1 person

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