Wednesday January 19, 2011
Bitters and Blood Orange a grown up Creamsicle macaron
Prior to working at Table 310, I could count the number of occasions I’d made macarons on the tines of a fork. They turned out perfectly fine, but my only reaction? Yawn.
Cute, colorful shell? Yeah. It’s called food coloring, big whoop. Exciting, fun flavors? Well, truffles have fun flavors and chocolate. Delicious buttercream filling? Please, I make buttercream every day, it’s not exactly a novelty at this point. But the deliciousness! Uh huh, welcome to the world of pastries, lots of yum up in this joint. Whatevs.
And those dismissals all hinged on someone actually skillfully preparing the macarons. My desire to consume straight-from-the-fridge, stale, hyper-sweet, chemically flavored, Red Lake 5 soaked, macarons sold in most shops? Exactly 0.
I just didn’t grock the confectionery Monopod.
But now I work for a Frenchman and make macarons daily. I have to admit, however grudgingly, they have totally grown on me. And yeah, the exciting flavors have alot to do with it.
I ran these blood orange macarons on last week’s cookie menu and also sold them at Wine + Market, sister establishment to Table 310. A classic French macaron with blood orange zest, juice, and Fee Brothers Orange Bitters, sandwiched with vanilla bean and Orange Bitters Swiss buttercream.
Like an Orange Creamsicle, transfigured.
I’ve done my best to write a macaron recipe that anyone could follow. But more importantly, because there are a lot of great macaron recipes out there, I want to demystify the process a little.
Like: forget the weird mystical steps some tout for Macaron Perfection (drying for X minutes, leaving the whites out overnight, aging the eggs, using cornstarch-free powdered sugar, rap-a-tap-tapping). I don’t do any of those things, and my macarons turn out fine. Some people do all of those things and their macarons turn out fine too. And lots of people in between fail. Why?
Macaronage, plain and simple.
None of the funky tricks in the world can give overmixed macaron batter precious little feet or prevent undermixed macarons from puffing up and cracking all over.
Entire books have been written to describe macaronage. But, unfortunately, like the Matrix, no one can be told what the Macaronage is. You have to see it for yourself.
If you’ve never made macarons before, now’s the time. Don’t fear failure. No one hits a home-run the first time they swing a baseball bat, so take a deep breath, check your performance anxiety at the door and give ‘em a try. Worst case scenario, you wind up with some tasty meringue cookies. Nothing wrong with that.
34 comments and counting
Jan 19, 2011 · 11:53 AM
Beautiful color! and great flavor combo!
· Tiffany · comowater.com
Jan 19, 2011 · 12:34 PM
Perfection!!! I’d love one (or two) of your delicious gems with my hot tea right now~
Jan 19, 2011 · 12:51 PM
It sounds stupid, but the primary thing that makes making macarons enjoyable for me is the fact that they can be such a pain in the ass to make. I get a thrill out of making a successful batch, you know?
Your directions seem very helpful. I wish the process was more easily-explained, but you’re totally right that you just have to do it.
Anyway, I’m glad that you’re having fun experimenting. I’ve never had bitters, but from the way you’ve described it, these sound yummy!
· Kaitlin · whisk-kid.blogspot.com
Jan 19, 2011 · 1:54 PM
You’re right about see it for yourself part! I made plain vanilla macs the first time and they were okay, but then I had some amazing ones from Gerard Mulot and decided to try other flavors.
Your orange ones sound amazing, although I don’t know what I will do with a whole bottle of orange bitters!
· Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen · wildeinthekitchen.blogspot.com
Jan 19, 2011 · 2:07 PM
@Kaitlin, agreed! I’ve certainly had some duds here and there and it keeps you from getting cocky! And it keeps you on your toes, wondering what caused a problem when things have gone so well before. I make a few batches a day and found if I re-use a pastry bag, the second batch acts funny…
@Vicki, I loooove a few good shakes of orange bitters in a glass of water! I. Can plow through a bottle in two weeks using it to jazz up water alone. Especially good in sparkling water too.
Jan 19, 2011 · 7:18 PM
ah, simon. you rock the cookies & everything in between. the fee brothers orange bitters are delightful in all things consumed. you are a talented and darling woman and we love you up here in GODS country. love your buzz…….
· mamacookiecakes · firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan 19, 2011 · 11:37 PM
Stella, your adoring public includes home cooks like me who take such heart from your ways of squeezing all the condescension out of pastry recipes. You have succeeded where David Lebovitz and lots of others have failed — I now think I might have what it takes to make macarons. And buttercream. Thought of your candy corn dessert today when I read this article about root veggies in desserts. Best part is the sidebar. http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/food/3202839-423/root-vegetables-says-chef-butter.html
· Rona Roberts · www.savoringkentucky.com
Jan 20, 2011 · 6:03 AM
Haha I love your no nonsense approach to this post. Macarons are kind of intimidating, but like you said, you just have to try it out for yourself, find your own method.
· Jessica · www.jessicasdinnerparty.com
Jan 20, 2011 · 9:42 PM
As someone who’s eaten an insane number of macarons, I’ve never had any made from blood oranges . . . and now I want them! Sadly, much like peanuts, it might be one of those things the French don’t recognize as edible. So I could be waiting a while. Lovely feet, btw!
· Paris Pâtisseries · www.parispatisseries.com/
Jan 24, 2011 · 6:24 PM
These look adorable, I always love your pictures! I have tried making them in the past, and only half failed. I’ll definitely be trying again!
· cathy · www.savorynotes.com
Jan 25, 2011 · 10:10 PM
Awww, everyone really does love the macaron!
Feb 23, 2011 · 11:41 PM
I definitely like the idea that I don’t need to crack my eggs days in advance to get good macaroons. So forget that! You’ve inspired me to make macaroons, and i just so happen to have some blood oranges lying around. Also, those blood oranges of yours are the lightest I’ve ever seen! I made a blood orange cake today and mine were deeeeeeeep purple inside. Wonder why they vary so much in color.
Feb 26, 2011 · 5:02 AM
Blood orange macarons sound like a flavour match made in heaven! Also the colour is so so pretty. Cheers for this idea!
Btw, did you get “feet” even without resting the macarons before baking? If so that is SO handy.
· Zo · twospoons.wordpress.com/
Feb 26, 2011 · 11:11 AM
Zo, yup! I toss them in the oven as soon as they’re piped, no resting. And they turn out like the ones in the photo. I’ve tried resting them before, but I’ve never noticed any improvement. Saves a lot of time too!
Feb 27, 2012 · 10:30 AM
Table 310 has a cookie menu?? I have found my holy grail. I truly believe that the best way to end a meal is with a cookie (or 3). So few restaurants offer them and I never understood why.
You macaron post is just lovely. I have spent the past hour just surfing your blog. I am a new fan!
Congrats on being named one of Food and Wine’s Top Pastry Chefs. Wear the “Pastry Chef” badge proudly.
Now I must book plane tickets to Kentucky!
· saltandserenity · www.saltandserenity
Feb 27, 2012 · 10:09 PM
@saltandserenity, thank you so much! Cookies are most definitely the best! If you ever make it to Kentucky, please give me a heads up so I can make time to say hello!
Jun 09, 2012 · 7:35 AM
Brave Tart I want to thank you and encourage you to keep on keeping on …you have a large number of followers….I can’t tell you how many times I have come across your name being used as reference ….I was intimidated…until I read your posts (on macarons)….and that was over a year ago!… looking forward to seeing you in print!
Jun 09, 2012 · 12:09 PM
@Macker, thank you so much for the kind words! I’m thrilled to have made macarons seem a little more manageable for you. Happy baking!
Jun 28, 2012 · 10:27 PM
Hi Stella, here comes a shocker: I love your blog! I am sure you haven’t heard that one before I also love baking but I am a total macaron newbie.
A.G. (guy I am seeing) went on a trip to Europe for 2 weeks, distance and time difference has changed our usual daily communication. I have been glued to my phone just in case he calls or texts (yes, I turned into one of those… oh nooo!) I have been wondering if things are ok and if still liked me… have his feelings changed? I decided that I needed to do something to occupy my mind, and oh boy, be careful what you wish for.
During the last 5 days I have been M.I.A, I’ve missed his calls and have not even replied to his texts, the answer is one word: Macarons.
I have the Bouchon recipe book, I thought that between Thomas Keller and I, we totally got this! Failed, tried the recipe from Martha Stewart, I failed and other recipes and gimmicks that have not worked for me. I have read blogs and done research, I needed to get to the bottom of this, I needed answers. Last night I found your website and aahhhhhh (angels floating and unicorns flying) love at first sight! I got my answers at 3:35 AM.
A.G. has been wondering if my feelings have changed and if I was ok, I wanted to reply “of course I am not! My macarons deflated and I can’t sleep just thinking what I did wrong!!” the good news is that I completely forgot that he is in Europe
In a few minutes I will venture again to the kitchen and try it again, this time I have thrown out all the cirque du solei tricks and will stick to a much simpler method, the Stella method! It feels like I am going to launch a space shuttle to the moon, I am so excited and nervous too.
You have inspired me to continue trying and that is exactly all I needed to hear…or should I say “read”
Thank you for the inspiration!
Jun 29, 2012 · 9:01 PM
@Mia, haha, what a funny story!! I’m glad you found a way to keep busy, and I’m sure AG will be stoked to enjoy all the macarons when he gets back. I hope you’re able to focus on honing your technique now that you’re able to fast forward past all the cirque du soleil business! Happy baking.
Jun 29, 2012 · 10:22 PM
Stella!!! forget A.G. After what happened in the oven last night…would you marry me?! (on my knees with a pretty macaron in a Tiffany box) lol. wow, I nailed it (clarification: for a macaron newbie) they had feet and the shell was perfect, it never collapsed, I don’t get it…. without the tricks? I can know see the things that I did wrong before, my macaronage was more like a massacranage and my meringue was not stiff enough, that made my previous experiments deflate.
This time things went great and I took pictures to prove it! but I do need your help with these two questions: 1) How can I get the macarons to develop larger pretty feet and also the shell inside was a bit hallow, it didn’t collapse but it had too much air space, is this something related to the macaronage or related to a baking issue , I would like them to be a bit more “cakey” in the inside. 2) The macarons are a bit too sweet for me, but I would not dare to mess with the sugar (I read the commandments and I don’t want to go to baking hell) adding salt wouldn’t alter the structure correct?
I documented with photos my past failures and my grand finale, I would love to share them with you, I am sure you will find some great material for what “not to do”
Thanks to you know I know how to fix things.
Sep 24, 2012 · 4:47 PM
I’ve made significant macaron progress, but they crack every now and then. I’m conviced that’s caused by the streaks of unadulterated meringue in the batter, as the cracks seem to follow my unorthodox piping patterns. I do scrape the bowl often, I even wash my spatula before filling the bag, but apparently my macaronage skills suck.
Do you think it’s a TOO bad idea to incoporate the dry ingredients into the meringue with the mixer, and then deflate the batter with a spatula? Just to make sure it’s evenly distributed, y’know.
Thanks and sorry to bother you with yet another help-my-macarons message.
Apr 05, 2013 · 6:48 PM
Thank you Stella!
I made my first wonderful batch of macarons a couple of days ago and I owe a lot of the credit to you! Thanks for your helpful tips!
· Lindsey · http://mybellelavie.blogspot.ca
Apr 05, 2013 · 10:34 PM
Hi Lindsey! So happy to hear you’ve jumped into the macaron madness! They’re a lot of fun to master, but waaaaay more fun to eat.
Jun 09, 2013 · 5:38 AM
Thank you so much for you help with macarons! I found you after my first (failed) attempt and you helped me achieve success second time around! I have linked to your post here: http://www.gourmet-photography.co.uk/2013/06/french-macarons.html Again, thank you!!
· Gourmet Photography · www.gourmet-photography.co.uk/
Jun 10, 2013 · 10:21 AM
Hi Gourmet Photography, oh thanks for the link. Your macarons (and photography!) are gorgeous, well done!! So happy you got to make the macarons you were hoping for, good luck with all your future batches!
Jan 29, 2014 · 11:24 AM
Hi Stella. Your post was inspiring as always! I thought I would try to make kumquat macarons. I dried zest thinking I would put it in with the almond flour/icing mixture, but then I saw this post…I CAN’T FIND RECIPE though and am so bummed. You state you used bitters, zest and juice…How can you incorporate liquid into the macaron? I can’t wait to start so hope you see this and can point me to your recipe. Thanks for all your great information…I am loving this site
Jan 31, 2014 · 9:37 PM
Hi justdelights! Aw, yeah. I took that variation down because I discovered that not all bitters are created equal. Some contain oils which can cause the meringue to collapse, but the type I used was alcohol based. All I knew was that the recipe was working for me, but people kept emailing to say it had failed. Eventually I figured out what was happening, but I’ve been hesitant to repost because of the trouble some people had.
So long as a liquid is oil free, you can incorporate it into the meringue at the very end of mixing. But if there’s any essential oil in the liquid, it will deflate the meringue. If using bitters, you can fold them in with the dry ingredients to avoid trouble.
Your plan for using dried zest sounds smart, and I would say you could safely mix some fresh kumquat juice into the meringue too.
Mar 19, 2014 · 5:59 PM
I actually have a bottle of the Fee Bros bitters on hand – how much of that should I add to the basic recipe if I was also planning to add 1.5 t orange zest? I also have (real) curacao, orange flower water and Cointreau . . . shooting for orange macarons + dark chocolate ganache.
Mar 23, 2014 · 8:12 PM
Hi elena! Sorry for the delayed response. During macaronage, you can fold in several dashes of bitters. Just don’t do it while you’re whipping the meringue, depending on the brand the oil content can deflate the whites. Some brands don’t contain any essential oil, but I’m not sure which do or don’t.
Oct 06, 2014 · 10:36 AM
Thank you for great advice. I’m 66 and British but retired to Spain. Millions of almond trees where I live but no macarons. I am going to have a go at selling mine at Christmas. Have a question about butter creams. I think spicey brandy butter will work for the Christmas ones but what about fruit? I can get fresh oranges, lemons and limes. Which buttercream do you recommend to end up with intense flavour? Should I add juice and rind or make lemon etc curd? What about fresh cherries in season and all the red fruits frozen? I’m so keen to get an intense flavour and colour without splitting the filling. I can’t afford to buy commercial flavourings. Thanks, Anne