Delicate and delicious, French Macarons are really very special. I think Eggnog Macarons could be the perfect elegant addition to your holiday table, or you can box them up and give them as gifts.
People go absolutely gaga over French macarons. Over the course of the 10 years I was running my wedding cake business I watched the wave of French macaron popularity swell. Hoping to ride the wave I started selling macarons as wedding favors and for dessert-table displays. I often had to make 200-300 cookies per order, which means baking 400-600 shells. Because my commercial kitchen only had a powerful convection oven it took some trial and error to get a system down to produce those delicate little bites.
What took me so long?
So why I haven’t I posted a recipe for French Macarons before now? Well, I knew posting a macaron recipe would involve quite a bit of explanation and detailed description because there are no shortcuts to the perfect macaron. Even experienced bakers can have trouble with the admittedly finicky cookies. I’ve given detailed instructions, but you may find that things work slightly differently in your own kitchen.
Even when making the Eggnog Macarons for this post I ran into a few problems. First, I had to scale down my recipe to a manageable size for a home kitchen. When I baked the first batch in my home oven they browned way too fast and cracked. Turns out the oven in my house is running about 25°-50°F too hot. Who knew? Most baked goods can take a temperature variation, but it took these fussy cookies to make me check the calibration of my oven.
Anyway, once I got the oven sorted out I was back in business. So that brings us back to these delicious Eggnog Macarons. Both the shells and buttercream filling have classic eggnog flavorings. My buttercream filling is a mix of butter and the almond flour base. I originally got the idea for the filling from an old French cookie book and I love it because it’s not very sweet and has a great texture.
Important Steps for Macaron Success:
After making literally thousands of macarons I’ve keyed in on the steps that are necessary for the most perfect cookies.
- Age the egg whites. This is the first and most important step. I’ve tried making macaron shells with freshly separated egg whites and I got cookies with ugly, lumpy shells. Remember, macarons are all about that perfectly smooth and satiny shell.
- Weigh your ingredients. Volume measures are not precise enough for this recipe.
- Grind the almond flour & sugar. It may seem redundant since the almond flour is already ground, but I’ve found that the extra step makes for a smoother shell in the end. I’m guessing it has something to do with the almonds absorbing some of the sugar, but whatever it is, don’t skip that step.
- Sift the almond flour and sugar after processing it. Again, this will eliminate any lumps of sugar or large bits of almond that might mar the texture of the cookies and will also evenly distribute the spices.
- Fold the batter until it’s smooth and shiny. Either under or over folding the batter will result in wonky shells. I’ve found it’s easier to under fold than over fold. Check out the slideshow below to see photos of the perfect batter texture.
- Let the shells dry for 30 minutes before baking. This will set the top and help create the iconic “foot” of a perfect macaron.
- Refrigerate the assembled cookies before serving. A night in a covered container in the refrigerator will help the cookies absorb some moisture from the filling and let the flavors meld.
- You can freeze macarons for several weeks after they’re assembled, making them the perfect make-ahead dessert or gift.
I’ve put together a slideshow so you can see the important steps for making successful macarons. Click on the right arrow to view the photos in order.
Will you get edible macarons if you don’t follow all these steps? Sure, they’ll be edible, but why go through all that trouble for an ordinary cookie? Take the time to create something really special to share with your loved ones this holiday season.
Eggnog Macaron Base Mix
- 6 oz (170g) Almond Flour
- 2 oz (55g) granulated sugar
- 8 oz (225g) confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Eggnog Macaron Shells
- 3 large egg whites, aged overnight in the refrigerator (see note)
- 1.5 oz (40g) confectioner's sugar
- 12 oz (340g) Eggnog Macaron Base Mix
Eggnog Macaron Buttercream Filling
- 4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
- Remaining Eggnog Macaron Base Mix
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon dark rum
- 2 teaspoons brandy
To Make The Base Mix
- Pulse the almond flour, granulated sugar and confectioner's sugar in a food processor to combine.
- Move the mixture to a sieve and sift with the cinnamon and nutmeg
- Whisk the ingredients after sifting to be sure they are well combined
- Divide the base - setting aside 12 oz (340g) for the macaron shells and the remaining for the buttercream filling.
To Make the Macaron Shells
- Preheat the oven to 325°F
- Use a biscuit cutter to draw 24 2" circles on a 1/2 sheet of parchment paper
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and put the paper with the circles underneath the parchment on one of the pans
- Whip the egg whites to soft peak.
- With the mixer running add the remaining 1.5 oz of confectioner's sugar and whip to full peak
- Gently fold the almond mixture into the whites in two batches. Continue folding until it becomes soft and shiny, but not thin and runny.
- Scoop the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip (or cut the tip of a disposable bag).
- Pipe the discs until they're 1/4" from the edges of the circles you've drawn
- Sprinkle a pinch of nutmeg onto each cookie
- Set the pan aside to allow the cookies to dry for about 30 minutes
- Touch the top of a cookie to make sure it's dry to the touch, it can be a bit tacky but shouldn't stick to your finger
- Bake for 7-8 minutes then turn and flip the trays
- Bake for another 5-6 until the shells are dry and the centers are soft (see note)
- Usually, if the shells are baked they'll release easily from the parchment paper
- Be careful handling the shells, it's very easy to crack the surface
To Make the Buttercream Filling
- Combine the softened butter with the remaining base mix and flavorings
- Whip on medium-high speed until the buttercream lightens in color and becomes aerated.
- Scoop the buttercream into a clean pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip or cut the tip of a disposable bag
- Pair up the cooled shells by size.
- Flip over half the shells and pipe a dollop of buttercream.
- Sandwich the cookies gently, handling the cookies by the edges and not the tops.
- The finished cookies should be refrigerated in a covered container for 1 day before serving. The cookies can also be frozen for several weeks.
Separate the egg whites at least a day and up to 3 days before baking. Store the whites in a bowl in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature before mixing the batter.
Aging the whites allows the protein in the whites to relax so they'll whip up better.
To check if the shells are baked I like to gently shimmy the top of the shell. If it jiggles separately from the "foot" the inside is still too soft. If it feels soft but is attached to the foot it's done.
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