By Melissa DiMarco, Lecturer, Department of Mathematics
For the shells:
- 300g powdered sugar
- 300g almond flour
- 4 egg whites (to put in batter unbeaten)
- 1 tbsp peppermind extract
- 4 egg whites (to be beaten)
- Pinch cream of tartar
- 300g sugar
- 75g water
- Green food coloring
For the chocolate ganache:
- 400g dark chocolate
- 400g heavy cream (or whipping cream)—35% fat
- 140g butter
- Candy thermometer
- Stand mixer
- Piping bags (or, ziplock bags)
- Rubber spatula
The Night Before:
- Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together through a sieve into a large bowl.
- Put 4 egg whites into one dish, then cover that dish with plastic wrap, poke holes in the plastic wrap with a fork, then put the dish in the fridge overnight.
- Put 4 egg whites into another dish, cover it with plastic wrap, poke holes in the plastic wrap with a fork, then put the dish in the fridge overnight.
- Put the peppermint extract, green food coloring (I use the gel food coloring and just put a squirt or two in) into one of the dishes of egg whites (4 egg whites) from the night before. Stir.
- Take that batch of egg whites (colored green with the extract) and pour it into the bowl with the almond flour and powdered sugar. DO NOT STIR.
- Take the second batch of egg whites from the fridge, and put into a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of cream of tartar.
- Grab a small saucepan and put the sugar and water into it.
- Put the saucepan on the stove and turn the heat on. You are waiting for the mixture to hit 235 degrees F. This is soft-ball stage for the sugar. You might want a candy thermometer.
- While the sugar is heating on the stove, start beating the egg whites. You want to beat them until they form soft peaks. I wait until it’s almost a marshmallowy consistency!
- When the sugar is at 235 degrees and the egg whites are at soft peaks, slowly pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites AS THEY ARE STILL BEING BEATEN (this is why I prefer a stand mixer). Once the sugar is incorporated, keep beating until the mixture turns glossy and forms stiff peaks.
YOU HAVE JUST MADE AN ITALIAN MERENGUE! HOORAY!
- Wait for a few minutes for your merengue to cool (1-5 minutes), then pour the merengue into the bowl with the almond flour, sugar, and unbeaten egg white mixture.
- With a rubber spatula, mix the mixture together until it ribbons off the spatula. What does that mean? It means the batter falls off the spatula in a continuous smooth, slow, manner. Don’t overmix. You want to stop as soon as it SLOWLY falls off the spatula like a ribbon (not in chunks). Good luck.
- Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Put the mixture in a piping bag and pipe it into small half inch-1 inch circles onto the parchment paper.
- Lift the cookie sheet a few inches off the surface and drop it. It will be loud. This gets the air bubbles out of your cookies and fixes any piping mistakes you may have made. I wouldn’t skip this step.
- Let the cookies sit for 1 hour (for a skin to form on the top).
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, opening the oven to check on them twice during baking.
For the Whipped Chocolate Ganache:
- Melt the chocolate. This can be done in the microwave, a double broiler, or in a steel mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water.
- Heat the cream in a saucepan.
- When the chocolate has melted, pour the cream into the melted chocolate. Stir until smooth.
- Add the butter into your chocolate mixture. Put in the fridge to cool.
- Once cool, put the chocolate ganache into the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until it is a consistency that you want.
Assembling the Cookies:
- Put the whipped ganache into a piping bag. Flip over a cookie and pipe on the bottom (flat) side. Top with another cookie.
- Repeat until you have used all of your cookies.
- Put the cookies in the fridge for a day to soften. It tastes better the day after. The chocolate ganache seeps into the cookies and makes them softer and yummier!
College is a place where we find ourselves. We can choose to adhere to family traditions or start our own! When I was an undergraduate student, I decided that every year I would make the most fantastic Christmas cookie tray that I could. Some years were more successful than others, but I’ve learned some tricks along the way. I taught myself to make macarons the summer after my daughter was born. This way, my kids are going to grow up with the tradition of always having Christmas macarons! It’s not an easy recipe–but the attempt is definitely part of the tradition!