Monday, May 21, 2012

Orange Blossom Macarons with Buttercream Frosting

Another macaron post, but in my defense,  this time I was held hostage by a group of ravenous beasts, determined to extract all the inspiration I had out of me in the form of cookies. To quell their madness in the interest of self-preservation,  I not only made them orange blossom macarons with buttercream frosting, I taught them how to do it themselves so that in the future, an unsuspecting chef might be spared the trauma that I suffered at their hands.
Once the cookies were assembled, they decided that their loot was sufficient and sent me on my way through the blistering heat of the city with only five macarons to my name.
Nina, Alexi and Nika (me)
Alright, in actuality, I had a play-date today with three friends, Alexi, Amelia and Nina. Our plan was to watch as many Sherlock (BBC) episodes that we could cram into an inconsiderately busy Sunday and make macarons.
These are by far my highest demand cookies and I plan on selling them in the near future. Macarons go for $3.00 in some posh bakeries and so if I sell them for a little less than that, medical school is covered!
My future business plan aside, I packed up my entire kitchen into my Norwegian day pack (my leather backpack that has that logo imprinted on the flap) and trudged nearly a mile to my friend's house.
I was extremely nervous about using an unfamiliar kitchen but as it turns out, their stove is much better than mine and they have a copper bowl for mixing egg whites. I am completely ignorant about the chemistry behind that, but the meringue certainly looked beautiful juxtaposed to the metal.
Nina and Amelia sifted the almond flour and the confectioner's sugar together while I separated the eggs. After whipping the eggs until they formed peaks, I added 1 1/4 tsp of orange blossom water and a few drops of red food dye (this made the cookies slightly pinker than I was anticipating, but they became more orange in the oven much to my delight).
Amelia and Alexi
The macaronage (incorporating the dry and wet ingredients) was next and I deflated the egg whites while trying to find the perfect consistency. My pastry bag was a big hit and Alexi filled it up so that I could, as I mistakenly said "pipette the cookies onto the tins."
That Freudian slip was quickly followed by my realization at how much time I spend in the lab at NYU. "We pipe the cookies," I reminded myself out-loud.
I continued to squeeze them out of the pastry bag until my entire arm was covered in macaron batter, which my friends promptly scraped from the bowl and ate (not recommended by the way). Each girl rapped a tin on the counter to expel any lingering bubbles and then we proceeded to poke the stubborn bubbles with fork prongs. Good thing none of us are perfectionists (ahem).
We left in search of lunch and came back an hour later to find that the macarons had grown perfect skins (thickened coats), which are ideal to push the air bubbles out of the feet instead of exploding the tops of the shells. We put them in the oven at 300 F for 18 minutes and went to watch Sherlock, which is possibly the best show to have ever existed.
To my ever increasing delight, every single macaron was perfect. You heard me. 100% perfection. They were smooth, footed, and tasting of orange blossoms. There is nothing as satisfying as mastering (well kind of) what is perhaps the most persnickety cookie in existence.
I know that this success does not guarantee a future success rate of 100% but I would like to call this day, May 20th, VM day (Macaron Victory Day). Gotta get my kicks in somewhere.
Nika and Nina
We also made buttercream frosting for the perfect Creamsicle flavors using 1 cup of unsalted butter and about a bag of confectioner's sugar. The hand mixer was not equipped to deal with this level of intensity, so we resorted to using a potato masher, which was surprisingly efficient and undoubtedly cathartic for Amelia.
It was wonderful to enjoy a Sunday afternoon with three lovely ladies, making cookies, going to a street fair and watching hours of brilliant dialogue. Just like Watson came to Sherlock even though he was told that it might be dangerous, when I told my friends that there might be danger involved in the macaron making, they all showed up. Both casts of characters, I might mention, were not intimidated by the enormity of their tasks.


  1. If I ever went on a diet (which I most likely never will), I would have to stop reading your posts. Everything you describe and document sounds and looks incredibly delicious. As it happens, orange blossom water is one of my favorite "out-of-the-way" flavorings; rose water being the second. Next time I have the spare time and energy at the same moment, I'm making a batch of these, and I can hardly wait!