snowmen & penguin macarons
I really wanted to make french macarons again, but for Christmas I wanted to figure out some creative way to make them more Christmas-y. At walmart I found a bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch (they're the Andes mints that you sometimes get at the end of a meal at restaurants like Olive Garden...but these were peppermint and in little crushed pieces). I thought these would be perfect for the macarons.
Just like the jack-o-lantern macarons, I used this recipe I found on Bakerlla's blog. The only difference is instead of grinding up almonds in a food processor I use almond meal (from Trader Joe's). I found this really cuts down the time and the pain of trying to get the right consistency of ground almonds and then trying to sift them when they're freshly ground from the food processor. It was difficult because you can easily grind the nuts just a little too much and turn it into almond paste or not grind the nuts enough...both of which make it impossible to sift. So, based on my limited experience, I found the almond meal works best for me. Just make sure to sift it first then measure it out.
For the peppermint macarons I made the batter and divided it into two to add the red food coloring (I wish I had made them more red...they turned out more hot pink). I filled them with the chocolate ganache and then sprinkled the peppermint crunch on the outer part of the chocolate ganache before sandwiching it with the top macaron. They turned out pretty cute and festive but I do need to work on making my macaron sizes more uniform...that's the hard part!
For the snowmen/penguin macarons I just piped two rounds close to each other so they'd run into each other as they spread out a little. When they baked up I had a body of a snowman (one looked like a penguin to me)! I used orange rainbow chip sprinkles for the nose/beak, edible marker for the eye/buttons/penguin body, and piped the scarves/bow tie/feet with tube icing.