Friday, February 19, 2010

Blueberry Macarons with Orange Blossom Water

Spent another morning experimenting with macarons.

It is an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day in Seattle so I am going to wrap up in the kitchen early and go spend some time at the park with the little Humble.

I created three different types of macarons today and I will start with my hands down favorite: Blueberry Macarons with Orange Blossom Water Butter cream.

(To my No Blue Food follower: please don't hate me, they're actually violet. Besides they match my blog layout beautifully...)

Not So Humble Blueberry Macarons
130 grams almond meal
150 grams confectioners sugar
20 grams of freeze-dried, unsweetened blueberries
120 grams egg whites, room temperature. (I'm using 12hr, counter aged whites today)
185 grams granulated sugar
50 grams water
gel food coloring (violet/navy)
buttercup petal dust (optional)

Preheat your oven to 335°F and line 2 thick aluminum pans with parchment/or silicone baking mats. Stack each of those pans on top of another pan and set aside.

(The purpose of stacking the pans is to insulate the top pan and reduce the heat applied directly to the bottom of the cookie. The necessity of this depends on your oven, mine has a strong heat from the bottom. Without the second pan the cookie's interior can rise very quickly, creating awkward feet and cracked bodies.)

Prep a large pastry bag with a #11 Ateco tip (or a similar medium sized round tip, little under 1cm) and set aside.

Place the freeze-dried blueberries in your food processor and grind them until they are very fine.

Weigh out your confectioners sugar and almond meal and add them to the food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds. Pour this mixture into a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside.

Weigh out 60 grams of egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer (make sure the whites are yolk free and your mixer's bowl and whisk attachment are very clean and free of any traces of oil). Also measure out 35 grams of granulated sugar into a small bowl and set it near the mixer.

Weigh out another 60 grams of egg whites into a small bowl and set aside.

Weigh out 150 grams of the granulated sugar into a small sauce pan. Add 50 grams of water to the sugar, attach your candy thermometer and place it over medium heat.

(Note: Even in my smallest sauce pan this mixture is only about 1/2 an inch deep, which was/is difficult for my candy thermometer to read accurately (we're talking -50°F!). I had to gently wash the sugar syrup up a little higher (about the 1" mark) on the thermometer using a spoon to get an accurate reading. Some really cheap candy thermometers don't read well unless submerged at least two inches. So, keep that in mind if you have a similar candy thermometer)

Okay, now you're ready to rock and roll.

When the sugar hits 210°F, start beating the egg whites in your mixer on medium low speed until foamy, while keeping a close eye on the sugar syrup. No need to stir the syrup, just let it come to a boil over medium heat (you're aiming for 245°F). Once the eggs are foamy, slowly add the 35g of sugar and beat until the meringue is barely forming soft peaks.

When your sugar mixture hits 245°F pull it off the heat, increase the speed of your mixer to high, and slowly pour in the syrup. You want to let the mixture trickle down the side of the bowl, so it doesn't splatter and get tossed onto the sides of the bowl. You want the sugar in your meringue, not a candy coated bowl.

Now you can relax, the hard part is over. Allow the mixer to beat the meringue for about 5 minutes to let the mixture cool.

While waiting on the meringue, combine the remaining 60g of egg whites with the sugar/almond mixture and mix until well combined. Add 2 drops of violet and 2 drops of navy coloring gel.

Once the meringue is ready, add it to the almond/sugar mixture and quickly fold it together. You should fold until it is just barely uniform, using as few strokes as possible. It is very, very important you don't over mix as the batter will thin considerably with each stroke of the spatula. Your batter is perfect when you lift your spatula and a thick ribbon slowly cascades off, back into the bowl. Though I tend to err on the plop/thick ribbon side of things. If that makes any sense... which I'm sure it doesn't.

Now you're ready to fill your piping bag. If the mixture is just right, it will ooze from the tip slowly under its own weight. (If it oozes out quickly, something went horribly wrong and you'll need to start over.)

Resting before baking.
My piping was over the place today, I know. Please don't judge me.

Pipe 2.5cm macarons onto your baking sheets, spacing them a few centimeters apart.

Once you complete a full pan, knock it on the counter gently, to bring up any bubbles and quickly pop them with toothpick.

Allow the macarons to rest like this for 15 minutes. (They can sit longer if you want to bake one or two sheets at a time, but will develop slightly thicker shells.)

Bake at 335°F for 10-12 minutes.

Now you stare at the macarons in your oven like a crazy person. Let me see those feet!

Allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes before attempting to remove them from the baking mat.

Good bottom!

After they cool they should pop off easily. If you have sticky bottoms then you might want to double check your oven temperature. Even 10 degrees too cool gives me sticky bottoms and 10 degrees too hot gives me hollow shells. Such a temperamental cookie.

Orange Blossom Butter Cream
460 grams (4 cups) confectioners sugar, sifted
226 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk or cream
orange blossom water

Using your stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sifted sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the cream and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the orange water, just a drop or two at a time until you reach a the desired flavor (I only needed a few drops). This is strong stuff, so be careful or your butter cream will taste like laundry detergent.

Add a little more cream or confectioners sugar to reach the desired consistency.

Fill a piping bag with an Ateco #11 tip, or even a sandwich baggy with the corner cut off (yes, this is one of the rare occasions I use them like this) and pipe a swirl onto the cookies. Sandwich with a second cookie.

If using the petal dust, grab a soft paintbrush (one you reserve for cooking), dip it into the dust and brush a little onto the cookie. To add the flecks, flick it off the brush onto the top of the shell.

This recipe yields roughly 2 dozen completed cookies. With a few extra for noshing or mistakes.


  1. Gorgeous, as always! I wish we could be neighbors so I could sneak over for a chat during your post-baking times and swipe a macaron or two when you look away for a second...

  2. Me too, only you wouldn't need to swipe them. I'll force them on anyone who will take them.

    Living around so many cookies is dangerous...

  3. Just a quick (potentially silly) question: Is there any way of making nut free macarons? They look divine and I would love to attempt them and be able to sample the fruits of my labour. Inspiring blog by the way! Just gorgeous :)

  4. Wynie, yup I've seen several nut free macarons. Though I have not made them myself.

    Baking Obsession

    The above link are some of the best I've seen. Do a search for Nut free macaron in Google and you should find several others.

  5. Wow, these macaroons look awesome! Lovely!

  6. My solution to the annoying candy thermometer problem is infrared digital thermometers! Though the measure only surface temp, all you have to do is add on ~30 degrees F to the read temp when cooking sugar and you have no mess and no fuss.

  7. Ha! Yes, I've already been shopping around online for a nice infrared thermometer.

    As often as I have to deal with small amounts of sugar syrup, it is high time I upgraded.

  8. MY GOSH! You've made them so splendidly that they could pass as some sort of ornament thats been hung around the house :)

  9. Those are beautiful! (as always) And it looks like you've got the new lens dialed in.

  10. Getting a little more comfortable with it, though I really should give all the credit to the wonderful light I had pouring into my kitchen today.

  11. I love the color of those macarons, they are just beautiful!

  12. I was going to leave a blank comment to indicate total speechlessness at the beauty above, but then I figured that would be confusing :)

  13. This blog is beautiful! And, I've left you an award at

  14. You make such lovely baked goods. This is somewhat off topic, but could you tell me what size piping tip you use to pipe buttercream on your cupcakes? Yours look beautiful but I don't know what size I would need to recreate the look...

  15. The fondant flower cupcakes? I'm pretty sure I used an Ateco 809.

  16. These are a perfectly acceptable shade of periwinkle, all is forgiven! Besides, I'm way too excited tonight to get upset about much of anything - packing for New York, get to tape a cooking segment on the Rachael Ray show in a few days!!

  17. Burger Bash, right?! Woo!

    Be sure to lay the smack down on those producers if they try to involve anything blue.

  18. These are so lovely! I just bought some rosewater but have yet to get orange blossom water. One more item for the wishlist.

  19. Yes, Burger Bash! I think the most exciting thing on the whole itinerary is "Chef's walk through at Ritz Carlton kitchen." That means I get to hang out, even briefly, with the 30 or so chefs participating in the Miami event before 2,000 hungry people descend and get in the way of my slack jawed gawking. Movie stars and rock musicians? Meh. Famous chefs? I will abandon ALL dignity in order to have my picture taken with as many of them as possible.

  20. These are absolute beauties!
    Have a lovely weekend.
    *kisses* HH

  21. awww these are so pretty! Love the colour!

  22. For really small volumes, I use a metal 1 cup measure as a tiny saucepan instead of using a real saucepan. Our last apartment didn't have a microwave fume hood over the oven and there was no counter space I was willing to waste on a stand alone one, so we did without, and the measuring cup trick is how I melted small amounts of butter.

    I don't know if that would work for your sugar here?

  23. Lovely, looks like a winter wonderland

  24. Wow, so pretty! I've never seen this petal dust that you speak of. Where does one find such a glorious thing?

  25. Ama,

    I buy mine at a local specialty cake decorating store. However you can also find them online HERE

  26. Absolutely gorgeous colours! I have the same problem with the candy thermometer too, liquid level too low to clip-on and measure properly, but I just tip the saucepan every now and then - living dangerously :). orange blossom buttercream sounds divine

  27. You make such wonderful macarons! I am jealous! I have tried 5 times and failed at each, it has been such a disappointment!! I will be sure to give your recipe a try, and hopefully this time it will work!

  28. Christina,

    They are really pesky cookies, I know. When you get them right, seeing those perfect little shells is just bliss (the sense of accomplishment is actually better than eating them).

    What sort of problems have you had with your macs?

    Eventually I am going to do a Maca-wrongs guide where I intentionally try to recreate all the possible fail states of the mac (no feet, over mixed, cracked/hollow shells, etc).

    I'm waiting to get the time to do so, so I can better advise folks on how to troubleshoot their problems.

    Maybe I should finally do so this week....

  29. Ms Humble, where would one find freeze-dried blueberries? I am in Canada and I don't think I've ever seen them anywere.

    ps. gorgeous macarons.. thank you for sharing.

  30. these look great, as do all of your marcarons. you have totally mastered the art and I am impressed. I plan on starting doing some of my own macarons for my blog this weekend - we'll see how they turn out (I'm new to macarons :)

  31. Those are gorgeous! The color is amazing and they sound so tasty, too!

  32. Question

    1. If i were making these larger like Bouchon size what is a good oven temp in a standard gas oven with now fan, and what temp for a convection oven with a fan? and how long should the bake time be for both gas oven no fan and convection oven with fan.




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