BLOOD ORANGE MACARONS

For the first post of a new year in my blogging life, I will once again feature macarons, as they are so special to me. Our grocery store had gorgeous blood oranges a couple of weeks ago, and the moment I saw them I knew resistance was futile.

BLOOD ORANGE MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

For the shells:
200g powdered sugar
115 g almond flour
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar (optional)
100 g granulated sugar
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
Tulip Red and Orange gel color
luster powder, pearl and brown (optional)
Everclear (optional)

For filling:
60 g unsalted butter softened
160 g powdered sugar
zest of 1/2 blood orange
2 tsp blood orange juice
1/8 tsp blood orange oil
pinch of salt
heavy cream if needed to adjust consistency

Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and ground almonds/almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. Add all the sugar at once and keep whisking until the meringue is soft and shiny. Add vanilla and food colors.

Whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the ground almond/almond meal mixture in two increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (round, ¼ or ½ inch in diameter or 6 – 12 mm). Pipe shells, I like to count numbers in my head and use the same count for each shell so they end up similar in size. If making snowmen, make a template with two circles joined together to form head and body, and pipe each section.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter/worktop. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. The macarons should release without sticking. Mix the luster dust with everclear and paint flowers in a loose design. Later add an outline with fine tip black pen.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the other ingredients except the heavy cream, and whisk until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a bit of heavy cream to loosen the mixture.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge. Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I did two different designs for the decoration, painting some flowers with pearl or brown luster powder. Very loose, no need for precision. The outline with the black pen brings the design together. The pictures don’t show very well, I am afraid, but I really like the dark flowers better, even if they have nothing to do with orange blossoms…

Extracts, emultions, and oils can have a bit of an artificial taste, but this product from LorAnn is very nice. A small amount added to the buttercream intensified the blood orange component without any aftertaste. It works great in ganache also.

I finally figured out a way to get the nice ridges in the filling. I was always using the wrong tip, 1M, because it is my favorite for so many piping jobs. However, I know realize that the best tip to use in macaron fillings to get the effect I like, is a French star type. Pick a size compatible with your shells.

ONE YEAR AGO: One-Two-Three Macarons

TWO YEARS AGO: Marshmallow Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Fujisan Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Air-Fried Tomatoes with Hazelnut Pesto & Halloumi Cheese

FIVE YEARS AGO: Red Velvet Layered Cake

SIX YEARS AGO: Lemon-Lavender Bars

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Quinoa Fried Rice

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

NINE YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

TEN YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

THE LUCK OF THE IRISH

Hard to believe that in almost 12 years of blogging I’ve never made anything that celebrates St Patrick’s Day. But today I am correcting this huge mistake. Gingerbread, sugar cookies and macarons to bring you good luck and hopefully restore my reputation as a food blogger, particularly with the wonderful people from Ireland.

LUCK OF THE IRISH GINGERBREAD COOKIES

to print the recipe, from last year’s post, click here

I received the shamrock cookie cutter as a gift from a dear friend, and designed this set of cookies with her in mind. The jar cookie was inspired by a video tutorial from SweetAmbs that you can find here. I adapted for my skill level, because I still struggle a lot with fine lines. It is absolutely mandatory to include one four-leaf clover to ensure the best of luck.

GOLD BUTTON SUGAR COOKIE

Same cookie recipe, decoration also found in the video link I included above. Really a lot of fun to make it, although you do have to prepare the golden buttons the day before, they need to dry completely before you can paint them and glue to the iced cookie. If you watch Amber’s video you will see that she uses the base of any icing tip to draw circles on parchment paper, then pipe the button shape with white Royal icing, a little border after it has a chance to slightly crust, and that’s about it. Let it dry overnight, paint with gold luster + alcohol. It took me two attempts to get it right, or at least right enough to be able to use in my cookies…

It is a good idea to make more than you think you’ll need. You can always save it for later, these Royal icing decorations last forever and not every single one of them will be nicely round, at least not when I do them.

Moving on, a really easy but quite effective way to decorate a sugar cookie. For this one, I used my recent default recipe that gives super sharp edges and you can find here.

GOLD SHAMROCK SUGAR COOKIES

Really super easy! You start by drawing a shamrock shape in the center of a baked cookie. You can do a round cookie, square, or hexagon, anything will work. Then, paint a nice and bright gold layer right on the cookie’s surface. For this I like to use Egyptian Gold from Oh Sweet Art. It is the most aggressive (but still food-safe) gold paint out there, and in this case you need it to be bright. Then, simply flood with green Royal Icing and you are done.

This simple method has so much potential! You can paint all sorts of basic shapes using different colors, and flood it to suit the occasion.

Another nice way to decorate is using the marbling technique, in which you swirl colors over a reasonably loose powdered sugar icing, and dip the surface of the cookie over it. The method is carefully detailed on my friend Helen’s blog that you can find here.

Finally, I close the post with my beloved macarons. For this recipe, I used a template found over at Pies and Tacos, but used my default recipe for macarons, but dyed green. A little splash with gold luster, and the filling was a Mint Buttercream from my friend Caroline’s recent post.

SHAMROCK MACARONS BUTTERCREAM FILLING
(from Caro’s Easy Online Baking Lessons)

128g butter, melted
3/4 tsp vanilla
sprinkle of salt
187g powdered sugar, sifted
Peppermint Extract (1/8tsp at a time, to taste)

Melt the butter in a small cooking pot on the stove top on medium to high. Turn the heat down to low-medium heat, letting it simmer and remember to stir. The butter will hiss & pop. If browning reduce the heat again. Continue until silent and then strain through a sieve into a mixing bowl. There will be foamy fat residue sticking to the sides of the bowl and in the bottom of the sieve. Add in the salt. The mixture will sizzle again so be careful.

Add in the powdered sugar and mix by hand until all sugar is incorporated and a smooth paste is formed. This will only take a minute, so no need to get the mixer out again. Leave till it cools down. Now add in the peppermint extract. Place in a piping bag, no need for icing tip. Fill the macarons. Leave them in the fridge overnight for best texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I hope you enjoyed this small collection of goodies, and that we are all moving to better times, as vaccination picks up all over the world. I am ready for some luck coming our way, what about you?

ONE YEAR AGO: When life gives you Eye-of-the-Round

TWO YEARS AGO: Carrot Cake Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Soup Saturday: Say Goodbye to Winter

FOUR YEARS AGO: Manchego and Poblano Soup

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Smashing Pair

SIX YEARS AGO: Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Crispy Chickpea and Caper Spaghetti

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung!

NINE YEARS AGO: Chickpea and Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

TEN YEARS AGO: Double Asparagus Delight

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Cheese Torte