Want something impressive to bake this holiday season? Skip the trite sugar cookies and kiss cookies, and try the French macaron. They can be made in a variety of flavors, from egg nog to candy cane!

This week I'm sharing one of my favorites: candy cane macarons.

Now, these cookies do have an air of difficulty about them. However, this shouldn't stop the beginner baker. My first few times making these cookies were a disaster, and was eventually scraped, however, I've picked up on a few tricks to help you out! Trust me, people will love these unique cookies for Christmas, or any other occasion!

Candy Cane Macarons

Makes approx. 20 cookies
**Must use food scale for the cookie shells**

For the macaron shells:
200 grams confectioners’ sugar
110 grams slivered almonds (no skin)
90 grams egg whites (aged at room temperature for 1 day or 3-5 days in the fridge, do not skip this step!!)
25 grams granulated sugar

To make the macaron shells, combine the confectioners’ sugar and almonds in a food processor. Pulse until the almonds are finely ground and the mixture is well blended. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat, gradually adding the granulated sugar. Beat until a stiff, glossy meringue forms (do not over-beat). 

Add the ground nut mixture to the bowl with the egg whites. Fold together with a spatula until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter is thick and smooth. (Do not over mix, but be sure all ingredients are combined.)

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a plain round tip and pipe small rounds onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1½ inches in diameter, by holding the bag perfectly perpendicular to the counter and smoothly giving pressure without moving the tip. Let the piped rounds sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes to get "skins" on the tops of the cookies.

Preheat the oven to 280˚ F. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool 15-20 minutes before removing from the baking sheet. (Do not touch while cooling.) Let cool completely before filling.

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the butter cream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Divided the butter cream in two portions.

For garnish:
Crushed candy canes

To assemble the macarons, pair up the shells by size. Add the finished frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip. Pipe a small round of frosting onto the flat side of one shell from each pair. Sandwich together with the other shell and push gently together so that the frosting reaches the edges of the cookies. Place the crushed candy canes in a shallow dish. Gently roll the assembled macarons in the crushed candy canes so they adhere to the frosting.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Stay tuned for more macaron recipies, as I'm looking forward to making some more!

Until next week!

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