Orange French Macarons! Love these tender, chewy little sandwiches laced with orange extract and filled with a smooth, luscious chocolate raspberry buttercream. A wonderful gift to give, and even better to receive!
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What are Macarons?
Macarons, not to be confused with gooey, coconutty macaroons, have a meringue and almond flour base, making them gluten free.
However, they have a reputation of being a bit tricky to pull off successfully. Have no fear.
With a few key tips in each step, you’ll be serving up macarons with an eggshell crust aligned with textured feet (the bottom part of the shell) and a soft, chewy interior with the best of them.
Expert Tips on Making Macarons
Tip #1 – Size
For starters, size matters. Macarons are meant to be eaten in a couple bites. Anything over 1 ½ inches in diameter will not be as visually appealing and run the risk of having feet wider than the dome.
Prep extra-large baking sheets by lining with parchment paper and tracing 1 ½-inch circles with a cookie cutter or even a shot glass. Be sure to flip the paper over before piping!
Tip #2 – Precise Measuring
I know most of us are used to recipes written in the standard system of measuring in cups, but when it comes to the macaron, or other baking in general, you’ll be teed up for a much better chance of success when measuring in grams on a kitchen scale. They’re around $10 on Amazon and well worth it.
Once all the ingredients are measured, sift the powdered sugar and almond flour to remove any clumps then spin through a food processor to make the mixture extra fine. Set aside, and onto the meringue.
Tip #3 – Room Temp Eggs for Stiff Peaks
Our next key player here is the egg whites. And not just eggs you pull out of the fridge, separate from the yolk and start whipping. No, no, no my friends. They must be room temperature. Cold egg whites vs. room temp egg whites will have much different results.
If you forget to set the eggs out ahead of time, just set the bowl of egg whites in a larger bowl of warm water. They’ll be good to go in about ten minutes.
The egg whites, too, are measured on a kitchen scale to attain the exact amount needed to go with the dry ingredients.
Aside from granulated sugar, cream of tartar is the key sleeper ingredient as it gives the meringue a little extra body and sheen.
Tip #4 – Macronage – Key Consistency
Macro- what?? Don’t worry I felt the same, then learned it’s French meaning the process of folding the dry ingredients with the egg whites to make macarons. Phew!! We got this.
As you may already know, folding entails using a good-size spatula to scrape along the bowl to bring the ingredients up to fold over and across, turning the bowl as you go. You’ll do this more gently in the beginning until the almond flour mixture is incorporated into the egg whites.
The batter will still be thick at this point. Thick batter results in hollow shells. No good. You need to keep at it a bit more to deflate some of the air and reach the ribbony ‘figure 8’ stage. Check out this video for achieving the right consistency by Indulge with Mimi. Admittedly, her ‘8s’ are prettier than mine. 🙂
Tip #5 – Piping, Dropping, Rest
Fill a pastry bag as much as you can comfortably handle and snip the end to leave about a ½-inch opening. Have a few pastry bags handy so you don’t have to try refilling one that’s sticky and has a hole in the bottom. Placing the bag point down in a tall glass and folding the edges over the rim makes life easier.
When piping, hold the bag perpendicular to the tray then flick the tip away when a little shy of the border. You don’t want a peak to form in the center of the shell. I could still use some practice but was pleased with the end result.
Once you have all your circles piped, lift the baking sheet several inches above the counter and drop it. Yep, drop it. About 8-10 times. It’s a bit loud but do this to eliminate bubbles that could later make cracks in your delicate eggshell tops.
Now it’s time for the macarons, and you, to rest. This 30-minute step is crucial for the macarons to set before baking. Tidy up and pour a glass of wine. You deserve it. Almost there.
Tip #6 – Even Baking
You’ve nailed everything so far, the last thing you want is your oven to screw it up. For quality assurance regardless of even the most reputable brands, buy an oven thermometer. In fact, buy two or three. They’re cheap and this way you’ll know if something is awry.
When it comes to baking anything timing is critical to achieving the optimal result. A hotter-than-expected oven will result in cracks, hollow dome, and ugly feet. A lower-temp oven may leave your good-looking macarons stuck on the parchment and a good crumble for your oatmeal in the morning. But that’s not the intent. Monitor the temp. You’ll be happy you did.
Tip #6 – Filling
Not much to say here other than this chocolate raspberry butter combo totally fits the smooth-sailing bill. Pipe on this or your favorite ganache or jam. So ready for a bite!
Well, someone had to do it! I hope you give these a whirl. Macarons aren’t as elusive as you think. Heck, if I can make them, you can too! xoxo
More Addictive Desserts to Try!
Orange French Macarons with Chocolate Raspberry Buttercream
- 250 grams almond flour (about 2 ½ cups)
- 400 grams 10-X powdered sugar (about 3 ½ cups)
- 220 grams egg whites, room temperature (about 1 cup, 7 large egg whites)
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 80 grams granulated sugar (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
- Orange gel food coloring, if desired
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
- ¾ cup cocoa
- 2 cups 10-X powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup seedless raspberry jam, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Fresh raspberries for garnish
- Kitchen scale
- Oven thermometer
- Disposable piping bags
- Extra-large baking sheets
- Prepare two extra-large baking sheets by lining with parchment paper and tracing out 1 ½-inch rounds, spaced about 1 inch apart. Flip the parchment paper over.
- Sift almond flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Transfer mixture to a food processor. Process for 15-20 seconds. If you process too long, the almond flour will start turning into almond butter. Transfer back into large bowl and set aside.
- Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium (#4 on a KitchenAid) until foamy, about 1 minute 30 seconds. Increase speed to high (#8 on a KitchenAid) and gradually add in granulated sugar. Whip until glossy with almost stiff peaks, about 3 minutes.** Add orange extract and food coloring as desired and mix until stiff peaks form, 1-2 minutes more.
- Add stiffened egg whites to the almond flour mixture all at once. Begin folding with a large spatula until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Continue folding a little more rigorously until mixture is at the “ribbon” stage and you can form a “figure 8” when lifting the spatula. Be careful not to overmix!
- Fill a disposable pastry bag with as much batter as will fit. Snip the end of the bag so there’s about a ½-inch opening. Pipe the batter onto the prepared baking sheet a little shy of the border. The batter will spread some after. Hold the baking sheet several inches above the counter and drop 8-10 times to eliminate any bubbles in the batter. Air bubbles can cause the tops to crack. Allow macarons to rest 30 minutes before baking to dry slightly and are no longer sticky to the touch. Preheat oven to 300°F while macarons rest.
- Use an oven thermometer to make sure oven temperature is accurate. Bake macarons for 16-18 minutes. If the dome of the macaron separates from the foot, they’re not yet done. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before gently peeling them off the baking sheet. (Shells will keep in refrigerator for up to 1 week in an airtight container or freezer for up to one month.)
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on high speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add cocoa, powdered sugar, and salt. Beat on low speed until incorporated. Add raspberry jam and vanilla extract, and mix until well blended.
- Transfer buttercream into another pastry bag fitted with a star tip, if desired. Pipe filling onto half the shells. Sandwich similarly sized shells together. Buttercream should not go over the shells’ edge. Let cookies rest in the fridge in an airtight container for 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before eating, about 30 minutes.
*Recipe inspired and adapted from several sources: IronWhisk, SouthernFatty, SweetSomethingsBlog, Indulge with Mimi, Cake Merchant, and Rowan College Culinary Art School.
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