Friday, March 4, 2016

Macarons Give Spring Flavor to Easter Meals

Traditional French Macarons Get a Spring Makeover withRose Water and Orange Blossom Water

One whiff of French Almond Macarons and Easter diners will know Spring is on its way. The light-as-air macaroons have special ingredients – orange blossom water and rose water – to give them a vibrant springtime flavor and aroma. 
Nielsen-Massey Vanillas’ orange blossom water is distilled from Spanish and Middle Eastern oranges and carries the perfume of an orange grove. Rose water, also from Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, is commonly used in French pastries to add delicate floral notes. The combined aroma will bring the presence of spring to the Easter table.
Laduree, the tea shop on the Champs-Elysees in Paris receives credit for the French-style macaroon, although the name of the cookies themselves come from the Italian word maccherone, (fine dough) and is thought to have originated in Italy during the Renaissance.  Today in the U.S., according to a recent NPR story, French Macaroons have become so popular they replace cupcakes as this decade’s defining sweet. 

French Almond Macarons

For the macarons:
10 oz. confectioner’s sugar
10 oz. finely ground almonds
5 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated or superfine baker’s sugar
Red and yellow food coloring
For the filling:
9 oz. unsalted butter, softened
5 oz. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1 tsp. Nielsen-Massey orange blossom water
1/2 cup raspberries
1 tsp. Nielsen-Massey rose water

1.      For macaroons: Using a fine sieve, sift confectioners' sugar and finely ground almonds, pushing through with a wooden spoon.
2.      Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tbsp. at a time, and whisk until dissolved. Stir meringue mixture into almond mixture (mixture will be stiff), then halve. Tint one half pink, the other half orange.
3.      Spoon 1 mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. Pipe walnut sized rounds onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, then repeat with other mixture. Set meringues aside, uncovered, on baking sheets for 1 hour (this will help minimize cracking). 
4.      Preheat oven to 300 degrees F/150 degrees C and bake macaroons, 2 baking sheets at a time, swapping sheets halfway through cooking, for 20 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets. Slide a knife under each macaroon to release from paper, then store in an airtight container until ready to fill.
5.      For filling: Using an electric mixer, beat butter until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until combined. Transfer half the mixture from the bowl to another bowl and add orange zest and orange blossom water. Stir to combine. Add raspberries and rose water to remaining mixture in mixing bowl and, using the electric mixer, beat until well combined. Sandwich pink macaroons with raspberry filling and orange macaroons with orange filling.
Makes 50 sandwiched macarons.
Tip: To create a perfectly smooth top on your macarons, dip a finger into a bowl of water and gently smooth out any peaks.

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