A French macaron is a delicate cookie sandwich filled with a flavored cream. They are a super special treat to share with your friends and family, and impressive and beautiful as centerpieces for celebrations.
These White Chocolate Peppermint French Macarons are inspired by classic peppermint candies with their signature red and white swirled tops. They have a delicate chewy texture. The filling, a white chocolate peppermint ganache, is smooth and creamy with just the right amount of peppermint extract.
What is a French Macaron?
The cookies of a macaron are made with blanched almond meal and a meringue. Macarons can be made in almost any flavor you can imagine, with the flavoring almost always added to the filling.
What makes a macaron different than a regular cookie is that it doesn’t use any kind of leavener like baking powder or baking soda to make it rise. Instead it relies on a meringue, egg whites whipped to a stiff consistency to trap teeny tiny bubbles in its protein. The meringue expands in the oven, making the cookie rise!
French macarons are different from macaroons, which is a shredded coconut cookie sometimes dipped in chocolate.
Ingredients To Make French Macarons
Although you can play with the colors and flavors of macarons, certain key ingredients are very specific and cannot be substituted.
- Blanched almond meal is made from ground skinless almonds. It is light yellow and grocery stores generally carry them. Blanched almond meal should not be confused with almond flour, which is similar, but sometimes made with whole almonds, resulting in a brown speckled flour. It doesn’t have the finely ground texture you need to make macarons. Sometimes super-fine almond flour made with blanched almonds is easier to find.
- Egg whites are a key ingredient—they are whipped to make the meringue that gives macarons it’s unique look and texture. If you can find unpasteurized liquid egg whites at your local grocery store, they will work wonderfully. Unfortunately, it may be hard to source in the U.S.
- Powdered sugar gives the macaron just a bit of sweetness!
- Sugar is slowly added to the egg whites as they are whipped to help stabilize them into a stiff meringue.
- Cream of tartar also helps the egg white meringue keep its shape.
Key Tools Needed to Make French Macarons
Macarons can be time consuming to make and somewhat temperamental, so work with the right tools!
- Use clean glass or metal bowls to make macarons. Plastic bowls can hold onto grease and fat, which interferes with your macaron batter. The fat will not allow the egg whites to trap air bubbles, which you need in order for you macarons to rise.
- Use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients. I’ve provided you with the measurements in grams. Macaron batter can be very temperamental so it's super important to have the right ratio of ingredients. Weighing the ingredients with a scale will give you the most consistent and accurate amounts and will ensure success every single time!
- I use a stand mixer, a Kitchen Aid, to whip the egg whites. It is very difficult to whip them to stiff peaks with an electric hand mixer or whisk. I have heard and seen some people do it, but when you have never made macarons before, it can really make things more difficult for you.
- Use a pastry bag with a round pastry tip to pipe the macarons. I use a #12 Wilton pastry tip. It is small enough to give you control over piping the batter, making sure it won’t run out of your pastry bag while you’re working with it.
If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can use a large zip top bag by cutting one bottom corner and placing the pastry tip into it.
Tips and Tricks for Macaron Success
Making macarons can be tricky. Follow these simple tips and tricks for a successful bake:
- Don’t make macarons on a rainy day! Moisture is a meringue's worst enemy. This also applies to running your dishwasher or washing dishes in hot water. The steam could break your macaron batter.
- Flip your baking sheet upside down and bake the macarons on the underside (which is now the top!) Macarons can be very sensitive to heat—flipping your baking sheet over helps distribute some of the heat coming from the bottom of your oven and prevents the macarons from baking too quickly.
- Wipe down the bowl you’ll use to whip the egg whites with vinegar to remove all traces of grease or fat on it. If you have any fatty residue in the bowl, your meringue won’t whip up right. Use distilled white vinegar on a clean paper towel to wipe the bowl.
- Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature. It's best to separate the eggs while they're cold, then let the egg whites sit out on the counter until they're at room temperature. If you're pressed for time, place the egg whites in a sealable container and soak it in a bowl filled with warm tap water. Your egg whites will be warm in 5 to 10 minutes.
Food coloring gives the macaron shells a unique hue, and the flavor is almost always added to the filling. The variations are endless!
If you are not a fan of white chocolate, you can use dark chocolate chips or milk chocolate chips. You can also use a different flavored extracts like lemon, almond, or cherry instead of peppermint.
Once filled and assembled, the macarons should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. They will last up to one week!
To freeze the macarons, place them in a single layer on a large tray. Allow them to freeze completely for about one hour. Transfer them into an airtight container. Use a sheet of parchment paper in between each stacked layer. The filled macarons can be frozen for up to one month.
More Holiday Treats to Bake and Gift
- Candy Cane Cookies
- Easy Fantasy Fudge
- Chocolate Florentine Cookies
- Slice-and-Bake Pistachio Butter Cookies
- Chocolate Cranberry Rugelach
White Chocolate Peppermint French Macarons
Instead of the blanched almond meal, you can use super-fine almond flour made with blanched almonds.
- For the ganache filling
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
- 1 to 2 drops peppermint extract
- For the macaron shells
- 1 1/4 cups (100g) blanched almond meal
- 3/4 cup (80g) powdered sugar
- Distilled white vinegar, for cleaning the bowl
- 2 or 3 (80g) large egg whites at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup (80g) sugar
- Red food coloring
- Special equipment
- Silicone baking mat or parchment paper
- Small pastry brush
Boil the cream:
In a small pot, set over medium-high heat add the heavy cream. As soon as it comes up to a gentle boil, remove it from the heat. This should take about 5 minutes.
Whisk in the chocolate:
In a medium heatproof bowl, add the chocolate chips. Carefully pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 1 minute. Whisk it until fully combined and smooth.
Flavor the ganache filling:
Add the peppermint extract and stir to combine. Set it aside at room temperature while you make the macaron shells. Do not put it in the fridge because it will harden!
Sift the dry ingredients:
In a large bowl, use a sifter or fine mesh strainer to sift the almond meal and powdered sugar together. Discard any large pieces of almond meal. Set it aside.
Whip the egg whites:
Dampen a paper towel with a bit of distilled white vinegar and wipe down the inside of a 4- or 5- quart mixing bowl. A glass or metal bowl would work!
Add the egg whites to the mixing bowl and using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, whisk on medium-low speed for 3 minutes until the egg whites are foamy, but not yet holding their shape.
I use a Kitchen Aid mixer on speed 3 for this step. You can do this with an electric handheld mixer set on medium, but it will take a little longer. Follow along with the visual cues for doneness.
Make the meringue:
Add the cream of tartar first and continue whisking for 3 minutes.
Then, with the mixer running, sprinkle in the sugar slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When all the sugar has been added, increase to medium speed and continue whisking for about 5 minutes. The egg whites will have increased in volume, become white, and look thick.
I use a Kitchen Aid mixer on speed 4 for this step.
Check for stiff peaks:
Stop the mixer, lift the whisk from the egg whites, and turn the whisk upside down. It should have a stiff peak of meringue that slightly bends at the very tip, but it should not slide off the whisk.
If the peak curls or falls over then continue whisking the meringue, about 1 to 2 minutes. If the meringue starts to look chunky or curdled, the egg whites have been overwhipped and you’ll have to start over.
Fold in the dry ingredients:
Add one third of the dry ingredients into the meringue. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold them together. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients, one third of it at a time until fully combined.
Scrape the batter:
Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter against and around the sides of the bowl to knock some of the air out of the batter. Do this 5 or 6 times.
Knocking some of the air out of the batter is important because too much air will cause the shells to crack while they bake.
Test the batter:
Use a rubber spatula to pick up some of the batter and drizzle it over the batter in the bowl. It should stream down like honey. Draw a figure 8 with it over the batter. The figure 8 should start to sink back into the batter after 10 to 20 seconds, but not disappear.
Prepare baking sheets and the piping bag:
Turn two large baking sheets upside down and line the bottom of the baking sheet (which is now the top!) with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set them aside.
Fit a 12- to 18- inch pastry bag with a small round pastry tip—I use a small #12 Wilton round tip.
Place the pastry bag into a tall cup with the pastry tip touching the bottom of the cup. Cuff the excess bag over the edge of the cup.
Use a small pastry brush to dab a bit of the red food coloring on the tip and brush 3 streaks of red along the inside of the bag from the bottom (where the pastry tip is) all the way to the top of the opening of the pastry bag.
Use a rubber spatula to gently scrape the batter into the piping bag. Twist the top of the pastry bag so that the batter doesn’t fall out of the bag while you’re holding it.
If using parchment paper, pipe a small dot of batter in each corner of the baking sheet to help secure the paper.
Pipe the shells:
Pipe 1- to 1 1/2-inch circles 2 inches apart from each other on the prepared baking sheets. The pastry tip should point directly down, not at an angle, for evenly sized and perfectly round shells.
If the tops have a pointy tip from the piping, gently smooth them out with an offset spatula or the back of a small spoon. You will get 30 to 32 circles, which will yield 15 or 16 macarons.
Remove more air bubbles:
Firmly grasp the sides of the baking sheet and tap it hard against your counter. Tiny air bubbles may come up to the surface of the shells and pop. You can use the sharp pointy end of a toothpick to pop them, if desired. Rotate the baking sheet as needed to tap all sides evenly.
Rest the shells:
Allow the shells to rest for 30 to 40 minutes. It may take up to 1 hour if your home is humid. The shells are ready to bake when they look matte and you can touch the tops without them sticking to your finger or leaving a mark.
Bake the shells:
Set the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°
Bake the shells, one baking sheet at a time, for 13 minutes. When the timer goes off, carefully open the oven door, and gently touch the top of a shell. The top of the shell should not move from the feet where it touches the pan. If it moves slightly, bake it for 1 minute more.
Cool the shells:
Place the baking sheet on a wire cooling rack. Allow the shells to cool completely before removing them from the mat. Do not try and lift them up using a spatula or other tool, especially if they are sticking.
Once they are completely cool, use your hands to peel the baking mat or parchment paper back from the shells slowly and gently. If they are completely cool, the shells should come off easily.
Pair the shells:
Match up similar-sized shells in pairs and set them aside on your counter. Each pair will be filled with the white chocolate ganache.
Fill with the peppermint ganache:
Fit a small piping bag with a round #12 Wilton tip. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the peppermint ganache into the pastry bag. Twist the top of the pastry bag so that the ganache doesn’t fall out of the bag while you’re holding it.
Pipe a little less than a tablespoon-sized dollop of ganache onto one of the paired shells. Sandwich the pair together. Repeat with all other macarons.
Mature the macaron shells:
Transfer the macarons into an airtight container and place them in the fridge overnight, at least 12 hours, to soften for the best texture. This step is called maturing.