My friend Meta, who I met at Italian language school in Siena, asked me for a macaron recipe. I’m not sure if chocolate with peppermint are her favorite, but we used to go to this cafe down the street from our school for a piece of torta cioccolato, so I know she likes chocolate. The peppermint ganache is trying to be festive for the holidays. You can also spread on raspberry jam if you’re trying to get out of making the ganache.

Metas Macarons - 4

Macarons are one of the more difficult things to bake, so be patient with them. A perfect macaron is completely smooth on top, which you achieve through finely sifting your dry ingredients and piping them out evenly. They are extremely delicate. The first time I ordered one from Gérard Mulot in Paris by the Places des Vosges, the lady let out a loud gasp when I carelessly grabbed the bag she handed me. I had squeezed the poor macaron into mush.

Metas Macarons - 2

I took a macaron course at Lenôtre in Paris in 2011, and that’s all we did, all day, from 7am-5pm, was pump out macarons. It shows you how many varieties there are, and just how passionate the French are about their macarons.

Metas Macarons - 3Chocolate Macaron RECIPE
makes about 2 dozen

4 1/4 c (475 g) tant pour tant (“equal parts” powdered sugar and ground almonds by weight. By volume, it’s about 2 c ground almonds and 2 1/4 c powdered sugar)
1/3 c (25 g) cocoa powder
2 more cups (200 g) powdered sugar
5-6 eggs, whites only (200 g egg whites)
1 pinch (1 g) cream of tartar
1/4 c (50 g) granulated sugar

25-30 drops red food coloring
30-36 drops yellow food coloring
15-18 drops green food coloring

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. In a food processor, grind the dry ingredients together for a couple minutes. Then pass through a sifter.
3. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar, gradually adding in the sugar followed by the food coloring. Continue to whip until stiff. It’ll look like tie dye for a second then turn into a milky brown. Remember it’ll get darker when you mix in the dry ingredients because of the cocoa powder.
4. Stack two baking sheets (to prevent the macarons from burning) and line the top with parchment.
5. Fold the dry ingredients into the whites very fluidly, scraping the bottom and turning it over on top.
6. Pipe out cookies about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, leaving about the same amount of space in between cookies.
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes until puffed up and firm on top.
8. Now you’re going to “steam” the cookies off. If you try to remove them immediately, they’ll probably stick or break. Place the pan over the sink, peel away a corner of the parchment, and pour warm water in between the parchment and the pan, so that the water runs into the sink. Be careful not to get any water on the cookies themselves or on you…
9. Let them rest a minute, then remove the cookies with a spatula and transfer them upside down to another pan lined with parchment. When they’re at room temperature, cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until the cookies are chilled, at least an hour. This helps them firm up, so they’re less likely to crack when you fill them with ganache.

Metas Macarons - 1Peppermint Ganache RECIPE

2-3 T peppermint pieces, crushed
9 oz semi sweet chocolate
3 T unsalted butter
3/4 c heavy cream

1. Heat the cream just until it starts to bubble.
2. Add the butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl.
3. Pour the hot cream into the bowl and whisk until smooth.
4. Add in the peppermint pieces to taste. (For a plain chocolate ganache, omit this step.)

1. Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and line up the cookies with their perfect match.
2. Pipe on the peppermint ganache.
3. Gently press on the tops.