the difference an “o” makes — orange scented macaroons

by hungryrabbit on September 10, 2010

Orange Scented Macaroons

As much as I’ve enjoyed the Mactweets Challenges for these past few months, each one brings a dash of nervousness—a French macaron can fail for many reasons. I can control egg-white whisking, the flavor profile, and color manipulation by practice and experience.  On the other hand, I can anticipate and prepare for summer weather that’s too hot and humid, but no one can be certain of results until the tray is removed from the oven, the macaron’s cool, and the parchment paper cleanly lifts off.

So it’s nice to come across a recipe that has both simple in ingredients and baking instructions. The best part is Mother Nature isn’t contributing unwanted conditions to the outcome. In this case, it’s a macaroon recipe not one for French macarons. Macaroons are usually made with coconuts and various sweeteners and have a chewy center and a heavier texture than the French macarons. (Don’t be scared off by the overly sweet, dense, commercial hockey pucks you may have consumed in the past. These are a different, light species.)

These macaroons are made with almond paste, and you don’t need to whisk the egg whites to any stages (soft peaks, stiff peaks, etc.).  Mix, blend and roll, and shape like when making gnocchi, and you get a sublime crackly crust similar to a French macaron. Pinch and squish to maximize the flaky exterior. Before your place them in the oven, they look like a French macaron that’s been used as a soccer ball in a World Cup game.

Though macaroons do not have the regal appearance of perfectly shaped French Macarons , their free-form profile and distinct flavor may push you to cheat on that Parisian beauty from time to time.

Orange Scented Macaroons

adapted from Patrick Lemble, pastry chef at the Four Seasons
make about 6 dozen

Ingredients

2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure orange extract (optional)
1 pound almond paste, separate into 1 inch pieces
Pinch of table salt
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more for rolling and coating (about 1 cup)
Zest of 2 orange
1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with nonstick baking mats; set aside.

2. Whisk one egg white and extracts in a small bowl until combined, set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, Add almond paste and salt, beat on medium speed until soft, about 2 minutes. Add egg white mixture and beat to combine, about a minute.

4. Reduce speed to low, add confectioners’ sugar slowly and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add orange zest and orange liqueur; beat until evenly distributed, about 1 minute.

5. Lightly dust work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Turn dough out onto work surface; roll into 3/4-inch-thick logs (3 or 4), about 18 inches long. Cut each log crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.

6. Lightly beat remaining egg white. Coat each ball with egg white and roll in sugar, tapping to remove excess; transfer to prepared baking sheets. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

7. Pinch each piece of dough with three fingers to form an irregular pyramid shape. Bake until lightly golden, about 15-17 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and cool completely.

COOK’S NOTE:

1. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

2. The orange flavor of the macaroons intensifies after a few days, so try to be patient and don’t eat them all in the first 3 days.

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