Chocolate macarons are possibly some of the trickiest macarons to make, but I’m proud to say that I’ve nailed these finicky French treats just in time for Christmas! Delicate, sweet, and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candy, these foolproof chocolate macarons are the stuff French Christmas dreams are made of.
Foolproof Chocolate Macarons
Let me start out by saying that I don’t know anyone that can make a perfect macaron (peppermint chocolate macarons or not) the way a French pastry chef can.
Not to be confused with a macaroon, also referred to as coconut macaroons, which are American treats made with shredded coconut and sweetened condensed milk.
A French macaron recipe will yield delicate, almond French cookies with some kind of filling sandwiched in between.
French macarons can truly test your patience and pastry skills. That’s why my macaron class is one of my most popular online classes. You can learn more about my online macaron class here.
Thankfully, I’ve done a lot of the experimentation for chocolate macarons for you so that you can attempt these peppermint chocolate macarons with confidence.
Easy Macaron Recipe
While a French macaron will never be a truly effortless, easy endeavor, this recipe for chocolate macarons is one of the easier ones.
For one, you don’t need a scale. When you’re making a typical French macaron recipe, you usually need to use a scale to weigh your ingredients.
Remember how I told you macarons are finicky? Well, they are, and weighing your ingredients is just another precautionary step to achieving perfect macarons.
Foregoing the extra fuss of weighing our ingredients makes this a relatively easy macaron recipe.
Perfectly Whipped Egg Whites for Your Chocolate Macarons
Even as a pastry instructor, I’ve had my failures when it comes to making macarons because there are just so many factors that go into creating these delicate almond cookies.
If it’s a little too humid in your environment, that can ruin your cookies. If you give the batter one fold too many, that can also ruin your cookies.
The great thing about kitchen failures, however, is that they can teach you a lot about what to do and what not to do.
And one thing I’ve learned with making chocolate macarons, or any macaron really, is that one of the most critical steps to making a perfect macaron is to whip your egg whites just right.
What do I mean by that? Well, your egg whites need to have a perfectly stiff and glossy appearance. I show you what that exactly entails in my online macaron class.
But even if you don’t enroll in the class, there are some clues you can look for when making macarons.
First, you should know that when you first start whisking your egg whites, they’ll look slightly yellow and transparent just as egg whites do. They’ll eventually start to look foamy and lose their yellow tint.
Once that happens, you’ll gradually add some granulated sugar to them. You’ll keep on whisking them and they’ll begin to take on the appearance of shaving cream. Soft, a bit foamy, and definitely not stiff.
You’ll just keep on whisking and eventually, they’ll begin to look glossy and smooth. When you hold the whisk up, the tip of the egg white might barely curl, but there really won’t be any other kind of movement.
Move the whisk from the upright position to the upside down position and the egg whites will just sort of hang onto the whisk, without falling or losing their shape because they’re that stiff.
This is where you’ll want to stop whisking and just appreciate your beautiful work.
If you continue to whisk after this stage, you’ll end up with big clumps of overly stiff egg whites. They’ll lose that smooth creamy look and pull away from the sides of the bowl, similar to the way large clumps of dough might.
Macaronage: It’s an Art!
The other thing I’ve learned when making macarons is that how well you carry out the art of macaronage is integral to what kind of macarons you bake.
Macaronage is simply the process of combining the whipped egg whites with the dry ingredients.
You need to use a very gentle folding technique to combine the two. And if you don’t fold enough, you’ll have a batter that’s too stiff.
If your batter is falling off so slowly from your spatula that it’s falling off in thick globs, then when you pipe out your batter, you’ll get macaron shells that never really flatten out or smooth out into nice shells.
If you fold the batter too much, it will quickly drip off the spatula. When you go to pipe out the batter, it will spread out too much and will never gain those ruffled “feet” macarons are known for having.
With chocolate macarons, in particular, I find that you have to be a little extra patient. I don’t know if it’s the cocoa, but the batter is always just a little more dry and tough to mix than classic macarons.
By the way, if you wanted to make these dark chocolate macarons, all you’d have to do is swap out your regular unsweetened cocoa for special dark unsweetened cocoa.
In general, if you’re patient and get that perfect consistency with your chocolate batter, you’ll end of up with gorgeous chocolate macarons. The key is to have your batter running off your spatula in a slow, yet fluid and continuous manner.
It should form nice little ribbons when it falls down into the rest of the batter.
Chocolate Macarons Batter Needs to Dry!
Most macaron recipes will ask that you let the macaron batter rest for a little bit before you bake them. I usually let my macarons rest for about 1 hour before I bake them. It just depends on how humid the environment is, but macarons need to be dry to the touch before you pop them in the oven.
David Leibovitz didn’t let his macaron shells dry at all, so following his recipe, I decided to forego letting my macarons rest before baking too.
I ended up with cracked macarons. A devastating sight to see for a hopeful Francophile.
So I tried again and waited about 20 minutes. While my macarons didn’t crack nearly as bad as they did the first time, they still cracked.
Like I said, however, every failure teaches you something. I knew that cracked macarons were usually a sign of too much moisture in my macaron batter.
So the next time I made them, I allowed them to rest for a full hour. After the hour, the macaron shells felt dry to the touch and had definitely formed a nice skin on their surface.
When they baked, they rose with perfect little feet and smooth tops. I was a happy camper indeed.
Chocolate Macarons with Vanilla Filling and Peppermint Candy
I’ve discussed before how I used to feel apathetic towards macarons. They didn’t particularly excite me until I tried the Ladurée macarons recipe right from their shop.
Since then, I’ve been making macarons at home in California when I’m far away from Paris. Whether they’re lemon macarons, classic vanilla flavored ones, or Christmas macarons like these peppermint chocolate macarons, I can’t get enough of them.
The filling for these peppermint chocolate macarons is a simple one: just vanilla buttercream!
I figure after the effort of making the actual chocolate macaron shells, we need to keep the filling easy peasy.
A little unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar get beaten together into a smooth and sweet frosting. A generous dollop of that frosting is then placed onto a cooled macaron shell before another shell is pressed on top to create a sandwich.
The frosting will naturally seep out the sides of the macaron sandwich since you’ve added a generous amount. This makes for the perfect sort of “glue” for our peppermint candy to stick to.
Regular candy canes are placed in a ziplock bag then crushed with a rolling pin. If you have any lingering frustrations from the mall parking lot during Christmas shopping, this is a great way to get it out! 😉
The crushed peppermint candy is then poured onto a plate before the macaron is rolled into the candy, rolled on its side so that the candy adheres to the buttercream.
Et voila! Peppermint chocolate macarons!
These chocolate macarons are some of my favorites.
I also use a special macaron silicone mat and a pastry bag with a plain tip, which makes the piping part loads easier, so definitely look into using these tools if you want to try your hand at these!
Not only is the actual chocolate macaron part delectable, but the addition of peppermint in the filling is absolutely tantalizing.
That extra, festive addition is just such a great combination with the chocolate macarons. It adds just the perfect amount of minty-ness, dismissing the need for peppermint extracts or similar flavor enhancers.
These make beautiful holiday gifts, as well. That is, if you can bring yourself to share them!
And remember, if you’re really looking to perfect your macaron skills, sign up for my online macaron class. You can watch the video whenever you want, however many times you want! 🙂
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 5 tbsp granulated sugar
for the buttercream filling
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1.5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 candy canes, unwrapped
- Line a baking sheet with a silicon macaron mat, or a sheet of parchment paper with 1.3" wide circles drawn on it, each spaced .5" apart.
- Use a mesh sieve or a flour sifter to sift the powdered sugar, almond flour, and unsweetened cocoa into a large bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on high speed until they start looking foamy and losing their yellow appearance. At that point, add the granulated sugar in, one tablespoon at a time, while the egg whites continue mixing on high speed. Stop mixing the egg whites once they look stiff and glossy. Typically, this means the egg whites are past the stage where they look like shaving cream, but instead look like a stiff glossy cream - when you lift the whisk up, the peaks should stay stiff with maybe just the tip slightly curling.
- Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula to fold the whites into the dry ingredients. You don't have to be super gentle at this point as you're just trying to moisten up the dry ingredients. It will look very crumbly and dry at this point.
- Add another 1/3 of egg whites into the batter, gently folding the whites into the batter. It will still feel difficult to incorporate the egg whites at this point, but be patient. Finally, add the remaining egg whites and continue gently folding the batter until you get a thick, smooth batter. There should be no streaks of egg whites in the batter. The batter should also fall off your spatula in a slow, fluid-like fashion rather than globs that fall off painstakingly slow. It's a fine balance between under-mixing and over-mixing your batter.
- Fit a pastry bag with a plain round tip. Place the bag in a tall glass, then fill the bag with the batter. Pipe the batter out onto your mat or parchment paper, squeezing out the batter just until it reaches the rim of the stenciled circles.
- Give the baking sheet a few taps on your counter to get rid of any air bubbles. If there are any pointed peaks on the tops of your cookies, or resistant air bubbles, use a toothpick to smooth them down. Let the macarons rest on the mat for 1 hour. After an hour, they should feel dry to the touch rather than sticky or wet. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Bake the macarons for approximately 15 minutes. Once done, remove the macarons from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes. Use a spatula to gently remove the macarons from the mat and allow them to completely cool on a wire cooling rack.
- To make the filling, simply beat the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and butter together on medium speed until smooth. Use a skinny spatula or butter knife to scoop about 1/2 a tablespoon of filling onto half of the macaron shells. You want to make sure there's enough filling so that when you press the top shell down, the filling will sort of squeeze out from the sides of the cookie.
- Crush the candy canes by placing them in a ziplock bag, then banging down on them with a rolling pin. Pour the crushed candy canes into a plate, then place each filled macaron on its side onto the plate, rolling the macarons in the crushed candy.
You can leave the cookies out at room temperature if you're serving them same day, or store them in the fridge in an air-tight container until you're ready to serve them. Just make sure you allow them to come to room temperature before eating. They taste even better the next day!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 22 Serving Size: 22 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 167