For our last departmental reception of the school year, I finally made macarons de Paris. I’ve made macarons d’Amiens before, and I long preferred their unassuming deliciousness to the over-celebrated froufrou that is the Parisian macaron. I actually never ate them in Paris, partially because I misunderstood what they were and didn’t think I’d really like them, and partially because I thought the colors everyone loves so much were a little silly. But somehow I came around.
Spring makes me deliriously happy after spending my first winter above the Mason-Dixon line, so these macarons were an ode to flowers. As a Floridian, the flowers were, naturally, orange blossoms. So: orange blossom flavored macarons filled with orange blossom honey jam.
I used Not So Humble Pie’s French meringue macaron recipe with a capful (probably a little over a teaspoon) of orange blossom water mixed in while I was beating the egg whites. I knew I could get away with that because Alton Brown taught me that you can add a little water to your egg whites for more volume. I used an oven temperature of about 300F, and I used Bob’s Red Mill almond meal – please don’t even try to use Trader Joe’s (I’ll have to remake the macarons d’Amiens with the Red Mill meal, so much better). I piped them with a Ziploc bag and a star tip, because it turns out my random assortment of piping tips does not include a large round one. So they were not quite perfectly smooth, but they were pretty good. I also didn’t bother to shield them with a sheet pan from getting browned. They browned a little, and since I didn’t color them, I thought it was a nice peachy tinge. I am very proud to say that they had lovely feet. And great height, which of course came along with air bubbles inside. Whatever. You can’t even tell when you eat them. I was super proud.
Now, I have to confess: I tried to make honey buttercream frosting three times before giving up and making honey jam instead. I’ll write a full post on that so you can learn from my mistakes. But the honey jam was super easy: just add some water to the honey, and a little lemon juice (which I still suspect of being unnecessary since pectin comes with acid nowadays, but worst case scenario it freshens up the flavor, right?), boil, add pectin, boil a minute more, and you’re done. I actually have a lot left over despite making about a third of this recipe. I am not complaining.
They were loved and every last one was eaten. Ok, I ate the last one. What? It’s important to try your own food, so you know what to improve on. So even though buttercream kicked my butt, I am really proud that I can make macarons. I feel like I can just whip them up for anything now.
Oh, and a lesson: it really does help to let your egg whites come to room temperature before beating them. I was never patient enough before, and they will beat cold, but this time I let the whites age overnight and wow, the beating went a lot faster. I also wait a little longer than most people to add the sugar in, because I find it really hard to get to stiff peaks if I added the sugar as soon as the eggs get frothy.