Even decorated simply—a sprinkle of sugar, a drizzle of icing—these stylish beauties are part of our creative Christmas cookies collection. They will be the showstoppers on any cookie tray. —Josh Rink, Photo Stylist Taste of Home
Total TimePrep: 1 hour + standing Bake: 15 min./batch + cooling
- MACARON SHELL:
- 1-1/3 cups almond flour
- 2-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
- 3 extra large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- BUTTERCREAM FILLING:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Place the almond flour and 1-1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. (175 grams) confectioners’ sugar in a food processor; pulse until thoroughly mixed to ensure almond flour is very fine. Pass almond flour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve; discard any large pieces that remain.
- Place egg whites in a very clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment; whisk on medium-low speed until frothy. Slowly add superfine sugar; whisk until dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Slowly add remaining confectioners’ sugar; increase speed to high and whip until meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form, 2-3 minutes.
- Gently fold one-third of the almond flour mixture into meringue; gently fold in remaining almond flour in 2 additions. Using side of spatula, smooth batter up sides of bowl several times to remove air bubbles and ensure there are no lumps; do not overmix. Run spatula down the center of the bowl; the line in the batter should remain visible for a moment before mixture runs back into itself.
- Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat oven to 300°. Transfer batter into a pastry bag fitted with a #7 or #10 round tip. Pipe 1-3/8-in. rounds onto parchment about 1 in. apart. Tap tray against counter 2-3 times to remove excess air bubbles. Let macarons rest until no longer wet or sticky to the touch, 30-60 minutes. Bake, 1 tray at a time, until cookies rise about 1/8-in. to form "feet," 14-16 minutes, rotating tray halfway through cooking. Remove tray and let macarons cool completely; repeat with remaining trays. Once macarons have cooled completely, remove from parchment.
- To make filling, cream butter in a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment; slowly add powdered sugar until incorporated. Add heavy cream, vanilla and salt; mix until smooth. Pour frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip; pipe buttercream onto half the macarons. Top with remaining macaron shells. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
- Peppermint Variation: For macaron shells: Add green gel food coloring (do not use liquid food coloring) to whipped meringue until desired color is reached. To decorate: If desired, top macaron shells with crushed candy canes just after they have been piped and before skin has formed. For filling: Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract to mixed frosting. Assemble as directed.
- Cranberry Variation: For macaron shells: Add red gel food coloring (do not use liquid food coloring) to whipped meringue until desired color is reached. To decorate macaron shells: Place white candy melts or white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Place chocolate in a piping bag fitted with a fine round decorating tip; drizzle over macaron shells. Immediately sprinkle with red, green and white assorted sprinkles. For filling: If desired, add 2-3 drops cranberry flavoring to frosting. Pipe a circle of frosting onto bottoms of half the macaron shells. Place 1/4 teaspoon canned cranberry sauce in center of frosting circle. Top with remaining macaron shells.
- Hot Chocolate Variation: For macaron shells: Add 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder to almond flour and confectioners' sugar before sifting. To decorate: Using stiff royal frosting, pipe snowflake designs onto half of the cooled macaron shells. For filling: If desired, using marshmallow fluff instead of frosting, pipe a circle onto bottoms of half the macaron shells. Place 1/2 cup chocolate chips and and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Place 1/4 teaspoon chocolate mixture in the center of marshmallow circle; top with remaining macaron shells.