Chocolate-Orange Macarons

I have been baking professionally for a long time.  How long?  Let’s just say that when I started, my age and my waist size were the same number.

Since that time, a number of desserts have entered the Pantheon of sweets.  Tiramisù.  Sticky toffee pudding.  Crème brûlée.  But none of these are as big a challenge to the home baker than macarons.  But I have been practicing.  And I have nailed them.

Here is one of my favorite flavor combinations, orange and chocolate, married into some truly incredible cookies.

Tips for Macaron Success

Macarons are famously temperamental, but there are some details that lead to baking success. But even if your macarons aren’t perfect (they should have crinkly bottoms called “feet” supporting smooth tops without any air spaces inside), they will still taste delicious.

  • “Aging” the barely covered egg whites in the fridge for a couple of days evaporates excess moisture and makes for a firmer meringue batter. Be sure to bring the whites to room temperature before whipping them. The meringue should be very stiff and shiny.
  • The almond flour must be dry and at room temperature. If your almond flour is refrigerated from storage, spread the flour out on a baking sheet and let it stand, uncovered, at room temperature, overnight to remove any absorbed humidity.
  • Process the almond flour with the sugar until it is very fine, and do not skip the sifting and “rubbing” step. The almond flour mixture must have a delicate texture or the shells will be rough.
  • Silicone baking mats works best to keep the batter from sticking to the baking sheet. If you want to use parchment paper, stack two baking sheets together to insulate the top sheet. There are baking mats for macarons with templates to ensure shells of the same size.
  • Do not make macarons during humid weather unless you have a very efficient air conditioner in your kitchen.
  • You will need a large piping bag with a ½-inch (12-mm) plain pastry tip to shape the macarons. You will also need three half-sheet (17 by 13-inch) pans. It is just not efficient to make macarons on small, thin cookie sheets.
  • Firmly rap the sheet with the piped shells on the work surface to disperse any air bubbles trapped inside the macarons. This is an essential step.
  • Bake the macarons one sheet at a time.  The meringues will give off a lot of invisible moisture as they bake, and this will build up in the oven. Some bakers adjust the oven temperature up and down or open the oven door to help with this, but I find it easier to simply bake one sheet at a time, as I would be likely to forget to do the other things.
  • For an excellent alternative dessert, make Eton Mess: Crush unfilled macarons and mix with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. The proportions aren’t important.
  • I highly recommend downloading this macaron tutorial at www.pastrypal.com, which is an all-around wonderful (if discontinued) blog. Her techniques are a bit different from mine, but it is still a great guide with some variations. If you use her tutorial, follow her directions, and don’t mix and match them with mine where they diverge. (Although she doesn’t include a chocolate macaron, anyway.)
Print Recipe
Chocolate-Orange Macarons
Hundreds of years, the French macaron—two slightly domed shells sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream, or preserves—was only known in France, and had not traveled outside of its country of origin. Then, in late 20th century, French chefs in New York slowly began making the exquisite cookie on American shores, and the macaron became a sensation. The ingredient amounts must be carefully calibrated and may be slightly off when translated to the American volume system, so weighing works best. (A kitchen scale is an essential item in a well-stocked kitchen, anyway, and can be bought inexpensively at any kitchenware shop and online.)
Course Desserts
Servings
16 cookies
Ingredients
Macarons
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2 cups (200 g) almond flour made from blanched almonds
  • 3 1/2 cups (350 g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons (60 g) granulated sugar
Ganache
  • 6 oz (170 g) bittersweet (about 60% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (55 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or another orange-flavored liqueur
  • finely grated zest of ½ navel orange
Course Desserts
Servings
16 cookies
Ingredients
Macarons
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2 cups (200 g) almond flour made from blanched almonds
  • 3 1/2 cups (350 g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons (60 g) granulated sugar
Ganache
  • 6 oz (170 g) bittersweet (about 60% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (55 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or another orange-flavored liqueur
  • finely grated zest of ½ navel orange
Instructions
  1. About 2 days before baking, refrigerate the egg whites, covered loosely with a paper towel, for 24 to 48 hours.
  2. When ready to make the batter, transfer the egg whites to a grease-free large bowl, and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 2 hours.
  3. Pulse the almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, and cocoa in a food processor about 10 times, until well combined. (You may do this in batches.) Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  4. Whip the whites with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until they form soft peaks. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar and continue whipping the whites until they form very stiff and shiny peaks, about 3 minutes. If you turn the bowl upside down, the whipped whites should cling to the bowl. If not, beat longer. (This is somewhat longer than the stage that you may normally whip stiff peaks.)
  5. Sift half of the almond mixture in a wire sieve over the meringue mixture, rubbing any coarse bits through the sieve, and fold it in with a large spatula. The meringue will deflate. Repeat with the remaining almond mixture until the mixture is thoroughly combined. The batter should flow in a thick ribbon rom the spatula.
  6. Line three 17 by 13-inch (42.5 by 33-cm) half-sheet pans with silicone baking mats or parchment paper, preferably the mats. Transfer about the batter to a large pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch (12-mm) plain pastry tip. Pipe the batter on the baking sheets in 2½-inch (6-cm) rounds, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart, allowing 12 rounds for each baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter. Firmly rap the sheets a couple of times on the work surface to disperse any air bubbles inside the macarons. If peaks are visible on the macaroons, pat them down with a fingertip dipped in water. Set the sheets aside aside at room temperature until a thin skin forms on the surface of the macarons, and they are not tacky or sticky when touched, 20 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the weather.
  7. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300ºF (150ºC). One sheet at a time, bake the macarons for 15 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet from front to back for even baking. Continue baking until the macarons are crisp and you can carefully slide a small offset metal spatula under a macaron to release it. (They won’t be truly easy to remove from the sheet until they have cooled.) Let the macarons cool completely on the sheet.
  8. To make the ganache: Meanwhile, bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour in the hot cream and let stand for 3 minutes to soften the chocolate. Whisk until the ganache is smooth. Add the butter and whisk until it is absorbed. Whisk in the liqueur and orange zest. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until the ganache is firm enough to hold its shape when spooned, about 1 hour. Do not let the ganache cool until it is hard.
  9. Transfer the ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch (12-mm) opening. For each cookie, pipe a generous tablespoon of the ganache onto the flat side of a macaron. Top with another macaron, flat sides facing each other. Gently press them together until the ganache oozes to the edge of the macaron “sandwich.”
  10. Transfer the macarons to a platter and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 5 days. Remove the macarons from the refrigerator for 15 minutes before serving.

Comments (2)

  • Sue

    July 28, 2019 7:10 pm
    The are made in France: Grand Marnier is made in Bourg-Charente nowadays (thanks for the comment, Raphael Ashtamkar!), but the story began with the purchase of a ...

    Reply


  • Erin

    November 5, 2019 1:24 pm
    Grand Marnier (French pronunciation: [ɡʁɑ̃ maʁnje]) is a French brand of liqueurs. The brand's best-known product is Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, an orange-flavored …

    Reply


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