Orange Cream Macarons

No one told me baking macarons would be so addictive. Now that I’ve cracked the formula, I’m obsessed with the notion of making more. Flavors swirl in my mind: raspberry, key lime, blueberry lemon, chocolate orange, salted caramel…the list stretches out to infinity. Plus – and this may sound shocking, but it’s true – I bought a carton of egg whites to experiment with last weekend and I really need to use them before they go bad.

Strictly speaking, store-bought whites aren’t recommended for macarons, because they don’t whip up as fluffily (look at that, I made a new word!) as regular egg whites do. But when you’re practicing a new recipe and don’t have time to make pastry cream or fruit curd with your leftover yolks, you sometimes resort to such things. Anyway, last night I arrived home from work with a great flavor in mind: orange cream. I used fiori di sicilia, one of my favorite flavorings, in both the shells and filling. Fiori di sicilia is a great combination of vanilla and citrus, and a little goes a long way. I’m happy to report that these were a big hit in Mike’s office today.

Ingredients

For the shells

  • 120 grams egg whites, at room temperature (about 3 large eggs)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 40 grams superfine sugar, sifted (about 3 tablespoons)*
  • 200 grams powdered sugar (about 2 cups)
  • 100 grams almond flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fiori di sicilia
  • Orange gel food coloring

For the filling

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fiori di sicilia
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 3 teaspoons milk
  • Orange gel food coloring

*You can make superfine sugar by placing granulated sugar in your food processor and pulsing it until it becomes like sand. 

Preparation

Line three large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine powdered sugar and almond flour and pulse for about 30-45 seconds. Sift into a large bowl, discarding any large bits, and set aside.

Place egg whites and salt in clean, dry, grease-free bowl. Using the whisk attachment, whip egg whites on low speed, then increase to medium/medium-high speed and whip until egg whites are foamy and no longer translucent. Slowly add superfine sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, whipping until stiff peaks form. Add fiori di sicilia, vanilla extract, and a small amount of your desired food coloring; I used just two drops of orange. Whip again to combine, but be careful not to over-whip; you still want stiff peaks but don’t want to take the meringue too far and have it become grainy.

Add 1/3 of your dry ingredients at a time and fold in with a spatula, turning the mixture about 15 times with each addition, being very careful not to over-mix. The batter is mixed enough when it is sticky and smooth, and you can make an unbroken figure 8 with the batter as it drips off your spatula.

Place batter into a large piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Holding the bag upright, pipe rounds of batter about 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto the parchment, leaving about 2 inches between each circle. Gently tap or drop your baking sheets onto a counter top or table to release any air bubbles.

Let batter sit for about 30-60 minutes; the tops will form a skin that becomes dry to the touch.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake macarons, one sheet at a time, for about 17 minutes, checking halfway; the macarons should form “feet” on the bottoms, but have smooth tops. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets.

While the shells cool, prepare the filling. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip at medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes, scraping the bowl frequently, until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and extracts, then whip to combine, slowly adding 1 teaspoon of milk at a time; you want a consistency that will be easy to pipe.

Once macarons are cool, flip half the macarons onto their tops and pipe filling on the bottom, then top with another macaron. Store in an airtight container at least overnight before serving. You’ll have some filling left over, so you can save it for something else (or just spread it on graham crackers, which is what I usually do with leftover frostings/fillings).

 

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