Celebrate the holidays with your favorite seasonal coffee in cookie form! These festive peppermint mocha macarons are filled with a creamy mocha buttercream, drizzled with chocolate and topped with a sprinkling of crushed peppermint!
Welcome to adventures in macaron making: episode one! I’ve been meaning to experiment with macarons for awhile now, but just haven’t had the time to properly develop the flavors I wanted for the notoriously finicky cookies. But now that the holidays have got me in an uncontrollable baking craze, I’ve been finding inspiration for macaron flavors all over the place. For example, what better way to celebrate my favorite seasonal coffee than to make peppermint mocha macarons?
As this was my first venture into the meringue-based cookies, there were definitely a few hiccups along the way. Nevertheless, I’m happy to report that the final product was absolutely delicious and now I have lots of lessons learned to share so you can get your macarons right the first time!
preparing your ingredients
The process of making macarons isn’t all that difficult, but it does require a bit of patience and a certain degree of precision. That being said, if you only take away one point from this post, make sure it’s this: weigh your ingredients. Using US cups just won’t provide you with the accuracy needed to get the right proportions. We’ve been using this kitchen scale almost daily for several years — it’s affordable, dependable and easy to use!
The first three ingredients in our lineup are almond flour, powdered sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder. To get a smooth finish on your macarons, you’ll need to make sure that this mixture is finely ground. You might notice that my macaron shells are most definitely not super smooth. That’s because my almond flour was not very finely ground and even though I sifted it several times, it just wasn’t enough to get out all the bigger pieces. That being said, the taste was still amazing and it’s actually not very noticeable in person. But if you do want that super smooth finish, make sure to use a quality almond flour and sift the mixture at least twice. You can even pulse the almond mixture in the food processor to get the perfect consistency.
making the macarons
Now let’s get started with the base of our macarons — the meringue! First, measure out approximately 100 grams of egg whites (usually about three eggs) and let the egg whites come to room temperature. This will make it easier to whip into a meringue. Then use a mixer to briefly beat the eggs until they’re frothy and white, gradually add the granulated sugar and continue mixing until stiff peaks form. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the meringue falling out.
Now it’s time to fold the almond flour mixture into the meringue. This step is so important that it even has its own term: macaronage! But don’t let that scare you — the process isn’t too difficult. Add about one-third of the almond mixture to the meringue and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl, folding the mixture over the top. Repeat this folding motion continuously and gradually add the rest of the almond mixture until fully incorporated. Your mixture should be quite thick, but still able to slowly stream from the spatula almost like a ribbon. You’ll know your mixture is the right consistency when it can fall from the spatula into a figure-eight without breaking. That’s your signal to stop mixing and start piping your cookies!
To form your macarons, fit a piping bag with a medium-sized round tip and pipe 1.5 inch (4 cm) circles onto a pan lined with parchment paper. I freehanded my macaron shells, but you can definitely use a macaron template if you’d rather. And lastly, before you can put these treats in the oven, make sure to tap (more like slam really) the pans against the counter to get rid of any air bubbles and then let the macarons sit for about 40 minutes or until they’re dry to the touch. Now you’re ready to bake!
Phew, that took awhile! But now you’ve got beautifully formed macaron shells just waiting for the perfect filling, which can be anything from jam to chocolate ganache. Today’s featured filling is, of course, mocha buttercream!
To make the mocha buttercream, start by beating softened butter until it’s light and fluffy. Then add powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, instant espresso and a bit of vanilla extract and salt. At this point, your mixture will most likely resemble coarse crumbs. To get to that creamy frosting consistency, start mixing in strong brewed coffee one tablespoon at a time. I generally need about five tablespoons of coffee, but you can use more or less depending on the consistency you’re looking for. Now just pipe a circle of buttercream onto one baked macaron shell and top it with another shell!
chocolate drizzle and crushed peppermint
From mixing food coloring into the dough to adding colorful sprinkles, there are so many creative and fun options to decorate macarons. For our peppermint mocha macarons, I decided to go with a drizzle of melted chocolate and a sprinkling of crushed peppermint. The chocolate holds the peppermint in place and gives the macarons a very festive feel! You might have noticed that crushed candy canes are the sole contributor to the peppermint taste in my ingredient list. While I experimented with using peppermint extract, I found that a few crushed candy canes is more than enough to get the perfect peppermint mocha flavor!
And if you’d rather not add the drizzle of chocolate to the top of your macaron shells, but still want that peppermint flavor, I do have a few workarounds. My personal favorite option would be to crush the candy canes very finely and then sprinkle a bit right on top of the mocha buttercream. But if you don’t have any candy canes on hand, adding a drop or two of peppermint extract into the buttercream will also give you a good peppermint taste. Just make sure not to go overboard!
One last tip: I find it easier to decorate the macaron shells before I add the buttercream. Piping the chocolate onto the macarons goes a bit more smoothly when the shells sit flat, which makes for a cleaner presentation!
- quality almond flour 120 g
- powdered sugar 120 g
- cocoa powder 15 g
- egg whites 100 g
- (room temperature)
- granulated sugar 100 g
- vanilla extract ½ tsp
- salt pinch
- butter ½ c (115 g)
- powdered sugar 2 c (240 g)
- cocoa powder ½ c (60 g)
- instant espresso 2 tsp
- vanilla extract 1 tsp
- strong brewed coffee 5-6 tbsp
- salt to taste
chocolate peppermint garnish
- - melted chocolate*
- - crushed candy canes or other peppermint candy
- Mix together the almond flour, powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Sift the mixture twice, discarding any larger pieces, and set aside.
- Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy and white.
- Begin adding the granulated sugar gradually and keep beating until stiff peaks form. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. Start with ⅓ of the almond mixture and then gradually add the rest until all of the mixture is fully incorporated. You'll know the batter is the right consistency when it can stream from the spatula into a figure-eight without breaking.
- Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized round tip to pipe the macarons into 1.5 inch (4 cm) rounds, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) between each macaron.
- Tap the baking sheet against the counter several times to eliminate any air bubbles.
- Let the macarons rest at room temperature for 40 minutes until dry to the touch. This step is very important so don't skip it!
- Preheat the oven to 300 F (150 C) and bake the macarons for 15-17 minutes.
- Let the macarons rest for 15 minutes on the pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Use a spoon or piping bag to drizzle melted chocolate over half of the macaron shells. Top with crushed candy canes.
- To make the filling, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, instant espresso, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt and continue beating until mixed. Add the brewed coffee one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. I used five tablespoons for these macarons.
- Pipe the buttercream filling onto the undecorated macaron shells and top with decorated macarons.
- Chocolate garnish: To make the chocolate garnish, heat chocolate chips or chopped chocolate in the microwave in 15 second increments. Stir after every 15 seconds until the mixture is smooth.
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