dark chocolate and orange macarons

Dark Chocolate Orange Macarons | Milk & Cereal

I can’t quite remember when I first discovered Milk & Cereal blog. It’s been at least one year, possibly two… but right from the start I became a dedicated follower. Besides creating gorgeous recipes, Ali is an inspiration in terms of generosity, humour, creativity and steadfast faith in God.

It’d be fair to say that we hit it off straight away, encouraging each other’s cooking exploits and even completing a foodie ‘care package swap’ between Western Australia and North Dakota in early 2014 (see a playlist Ali created for me here). I love her to bits and I feel blessed to be genuine friends (albeit those who are yet to meet!). It’s also huge fun to ‘do life’ with Ali and her husband Rob through Ali’s fun Instagram feed (yep, sometimes I love social media!).

Anyway, back to today’s post. Some months ago, when I mentioned that Aaron and I were embarking on a massive Europe trip, Ali was among those who generously offered to complete a guest recipe post. She casually threw in the word ‘macarons’ and I instantly became excited. Let’s just say that this thorough, easy-to-read macaron tutorial completely blew me away when it arrived in my inbox. Deliciously gooey, crisp-shelled, delicately ‘footed’ macaron perfection!

So without further ado, let me hand over to my dear friend Ali for THE macaron post you’ve been waiting for (I can’t wait to try her tips at home! Ah, I miss my kitchen!).


Salutations, dear readers of the Mess!

My name is Ali, and I’ve popped over from Milk & Cereal to bring you a recipe from a distant land. Well, I’m from a distant land (if you’re in Australia, that is, or really anywhere other than the U.S.), but I suppose this recipe originates in France or Italy.

Upon contemplating what kind of macarons to attempt for this post, I excitedly realized that autumn (i.e. Pumpkin season) is fast approaching in my neck of the woods. And don’t pumpkin macarons just sound like the best thing since the announcement of a Sharknado sequel?! Well, with that first realization came a second, more dreadful, realization: There’s no canned pumpkin in Aussieland. At least, not easily accessible to most. What a pity! Besides, you’re done with autumn Down Under anyway. So I threw that idea out the window (or rather, stored it on the shelf for the later use of we fortunate folk who have unlimited access to the “gourd-uous gold”).

As we Northerners enter into the cold and desolation of winter (Well, we’re technically entering into fall, but we likely won’t be graced with its presence for long before winter shows its face!), and you Southerners enter into the fresh rejuvenation of spring, I decided on a macaron recipe fitting for all seasons and any hemisphere: Dark Chocolate Orange. The slight piquancy of citrus is especially for those of you in or entering a season of warmth, and the chocolate is for anyone, because is there ever not a time for chocolate?

If any of you Aussies are just dying to experience this strange thing that is a North Dakota winter (as I’m sure you are), I invite you to come visit and experience it for yourself! Please note that by accepting this invitation, you agree to help shovel our driveway. You’ll love it; shoveling is a bundle of fun.

Dark Chocolate Orange Macarons | Milk & Cereal

If you can get your hands on some orange-flavored dark chocolate (like this tasty creation from Theo Chocolate), your ganache will be pleasantly enhanced. If not, have no fear! I assure you, your ganache will still stand up to the task regardless.

Dark Chocolate Orange Macarons | Milk & Cereal Blog

Now, if you’ve never made macarons before and find them daunting (or have made them but have yet to get them to turn out properly), I’m here to help! Heaps of research and a few (or more) unsuccessful attempts brought me to eventual success. I’m not going to unload a bottomless pit of knowledge on you, but I will offer a few quick, key suggestions that helped me, and point you in the direction of the trusty sources from which I gathered information.

Dark Chocolate Orange Macarons | Milk & Cereal

Of all the factors and techniques to consider when making macarons, I found three to be the most important. First, measure your ingredients properly. You’ll see in the recipe below, I’ve listed the ingredients first in grams and second in customary units (I actually had to Google that just now to find out the name of the U.S. measurement system, which I’ve been using for 20 or so years.). So when I say to measure properly, I mean you should measure with a scale (and in grams) if at all possible. I ordered a little kitchen scale specifically for macarons (this one, which is fairly cheap and hasn’t given me trouble me yet, to be exact), and I’m glad I did! Macarons are touchy little minxes that require a great deal of precision; measuring properly with a scale will help eliminate your risk of failure.

Dark Chocolate Orange Macarons | Milk & Cereal

Second, mix/stir/whip your ingredients properly! If you watch Food Nouveau’s tutorial, you’ll get a visual of how the that all should look, but here’s the gist of it: Blend/process the dry ingredients minus granulated sugar, and then sift or run them through a sieve. Whip the egg whites, adding the granulated sugar gradually, until they reach stiff peaks. However, try not to whip them too much. Finally, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue (egg whites and sugar) carefully and in two or three separate additions. Now listen up, folks, ’cause here’s the most important note on the mixing: You’ve mixed enough when the batter passes the “ribbon test.” That means that when you lift up the spatula and let a ribbon of batter fall across the remaining batter in the bowl, said ribbon should sink in and disappear in 30 seconds. Try with all your might not to mix past this consistency! David Lebovitz offers a warning from Rob of Fauchon: “…the batter for perfect macarons needs to be folded just-so. One extra fold, and it’s all over. Not enough, and you won’t get that little foot.” But don’t let that scare you off. ;)

Third, bake your shells/biscuits properly. Sadly, this part is less straight-forward and may require a bit of trial and error, as all ovens and climates vary. Once you’ve got the correct temperature, tackle the baking time. I struggled with under-baking and kept ending up with macarons stuck to the parchment paper. I wasted copious batches this way! Macarons that are done should have a slight hollow sound when you tap the shell. They should have a thin crust if you crack the shell, but they should not be completely dry or crunchy. Most noticeably, they should also have feet! My first many batches barely had feet, probably as a result of over-mixing and under-baking.

Dark Chocolate Orange Macarons |  Milk & Cereal

I’m sorry; those few “quick” tips grew a little long-winded… If you made it all the way through, I do hope you found them helpful! To wrap up our class for the day, I give you the aforementioned trusty sources:

Food Nouveau has a fantastic (and concise) step-by-step recipe and video. Here’s a golden nugget of advice from her: “No recipe is universal, and the most important thing is to go slow. Try cautiously with your own instruments, ingredients and oven. You will have to try more than once before achieving perfection.” Don’t get yourself down if your first batch is a major flop!

Food Nouveau and Not So Humble Pie both have very extensive troubleshooting guides. You can even Google “macaron troubleshooting” to find yourself a nearly endless list of resources.

Lastly, the great David Lebovitz has a post on macaron instructions and recipes, and his post French Chocolate Macaron Recipe is loaded with his own insights of trials and errors.

Dark Chocolate Orange Macarons | Milk & Cereal

When I finally achieved a batch of macarons that appeared successful, I wasn’t even certain that they were, in fact, a success. To be honest, I’ve never eaten a bakery-made macaron, so I haven’t been able to compare mine to the “real thing.” Based on the photos I’d seen, I always imagined macarons being crunchy cookies. But according to my studies, the perfect macaron should have nicely-risen feet; a decent dome; a thin, crisp shell (with no hollow gap); and a soft, moist interior. So if that is true, I believe I have created a successful specimen. Would you agree? :D

Dark Chocolate Orange Macarons | Milk & Cereal

Forgive me. I said I wasn’t going to unload a bottomless pit of knowledge on you, yet I nearly did so anyway. I imagine it’s about time to be getting on to the recipe!

Ganache Ingredients:
(This ganache recipe will make more than you need for the macarons, leaving extra for ice cream or eating by the spoonful, but feel free to halve it.)

  • 4 oz. (approx. 113 gr.) dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 c. (approx. 118 ml.) cream
  • 1/4 c. (approx. 32 gr.) powdered sugar (more or less, depending on how dark you like your chocolate)
  • 1/2 tsp. (approx. 5 ml.) vanilla extract
  • 4 drops orange essential oil

Biscuit/Cookie/Shell Ingredients:
(adapted from David Lebovitz)

  • 100 gr. (approx. 1 c.) powdered sugar
  • 50 gr. (approx. 1/2 c.) almond meal/flour
  • 30 gr. (approx. 3 1/2 Tbs.) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 egg whites, aged at room temperature*
  • 65 gr. (approx. 5 Tbs.) granulated sugar
  • 4-6 drops orange essential oil

* I have yet to determine how necessary it is to “age” the egg white for 6 hours, as some recipes say. Many experienced macaron-makers will tell you it is crucial, but a few others don’t seem to agree. The egg white in the macarons you see in these photos were left out over night, but I’ll leave that choice up to you! Planning ahead is hard sometimes, am I right?

Instructions:
(If you’re a first-timer to macarons, consider watching this short video tutorial. It’s incredibly helpful, but please bear in mind that the recipe in the video is not the same as the one in this post.)

  1. First, make the ganache. It takes longer to set up than it takes to make the macarons, so it can even be made the day before. Place the chocolate in a small bowl, then heat the cream to near boiling. I heat the cream in the microwave out of laziness, but the stovetop is fine. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Then whisk in the powdered sugar, vanilla and orange oil. Refrigerate, covered, until set up and ready to use.
  2. Next preheat the oven to 300 F (or 150 C). As mentioned earlier, you may need to adjust this based on your oven and your climate. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Some prefer a Silpat to prevent spreading, but my macarons stuck to that.
  3. Measure out all your ingredients, then blend together the powdered sugar, almond flour, and cocoa powder in a blender or food processor for a couple minutes until there are no lumps. Sift this mixture or run it through a sieve.
  4. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, and preferably a stainless steel bowl, begin whipping the egg whites on medium high speed. Once the egg whites begin to rise and hold their shape, gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Whip until the meringue has stiff peaks, about two to three minutes.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the dry ingredients into the meringue in two or three separate batches. Fold until your batter passes the “ribbon test.” When you lift up the spatula and let a ribbon of batter fall across the batter in the bowl, the ribbon should sink in and disappear in 30 seconds. Really try to avoid mixing past this point!
  6. Fill a pastry bag with the batter, and pipe small circles (about 1 inch or 3 cm in diameter) onto the parchment paper, spaced 1 inch (3 cm) apart. Use a template if you need to. They should pipe out like slightly droopy Hershey kisses at first if you mixed to the proper consistency, but they will flatten in a moment. Rap the baking sheet on the counter top a few times to help them flatten and eliminate bubbles.
  7. This next step is optional: Let the piped macarons rest for 20 minutes to two hours before baking. David Lebovitz and Fauchon baker Rob both deem this step unnecessary. In my successful batches, those that rested while the first batch baked did rise a bit more, but the difference wasn’t enough for me to find the resting time necessary. You make the call.
  8. Finally, bake the macarons 14-18 minutes, until you hear a slight hollow sound when tapping the top, a thin shell and nice feet have formed, and before they become dry and crunchy. When I take them out of the oven, I gently lift up the parchment paper and mist the sheet with water, then set the parchment paper back down. The resultant steam helps the cookies to release more easily, but you may not find this necessary. Cool the shells completely before removing them.
  9. Pair up shells of matching size, slather on some ganache, and make a cookie sandwich! Flavors are best after the macarons sit for a day. Store in an airtight container for up to five days, or freeze. Recipe yields approximately 15 small macarons (assembled).

Dark Chocolate Orange Macarons | Milk & Cereal

While my recent adventures are nowhere near as cool as Laura’s, I’ll leave you with a couple snippets just for the fun of it. :)

apple orchard

Rob and I didn’t really have any good and current photos of the two of us (aside from our three-year-old wedding photos), so we hired our highly talented friend to take our photos in a local apple orchard. It was great fun, and the photos are beautiful! Photo cred: Chantell Lauren Photography.

(That reminds me– I believe a “Happy Anniversary” to Laura and Aaron is in order! Or almost in order… Okay in a few months. But mark your calendars for November, people! Thanks Ali, you sweet thing… I cannot believe that you remembered our anniversary! Hugs!)

photo 1

Last weekend we went to Colorado to visit my mom. We all stayed at a neat old cabin in Breckenridge, and though the weather was cold and rainy much of the time, we did manage to get in a bit of hiking. Our bodies were missing the rich oxygen levels of North Dakota’s low altitude, but Rob and I sure do love the mountains! Unfortunately, our home state is flat as a pancake. :/ So we are most thankful for the opportunities we have to travel!

It’s been a pleasure being here at Laura’s Mess! Thanks for taking the time to peruse my ramblings. Now resume your regular scheduled programming. ;)

© Milk & Cereal. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

67 responses

    • It really is easy to become slightly obsessed with macarons, isn’t it?! The thrill of success drives subsequent batches. Plus, they’re so adorable and tasty! I’m off to take a look at your recipe! :D

  1. What an incredibly beautiful recipe my friend, or maybe it’s your photos, or actually, it is both :D
    I love the Jaffa combo, it really keeps me grinning like a little bit of an idiot :P
    Gorgeous recipe!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Thanks Uru, it’s actually Ali’s recipe not mine (Milk and Cereal blog) but she kindly created it as a guest post for the Mess! As for the jaffa combo… big yum! I love it too! Hope you’re going well xx

  2. Looks wonderful, Ali – I love chocolate and orange and, in fact, this weeks post on Cocoa & Lavender combines chocolate and orange. Great minds think alike, eh?

  3. Pingback: https://laurasmess.me/2014/09/01/dark-chocolate-and-orange-macarons/ | Adam Paul Green

  4. What a wonderful guest post, Laura! I am delighted to meet Ali as well and, wow, what a cornucopia of tips and links. If I can’t make a decent macaron now, all is lost. Just curious, Ali, and maybe this was addressed in one of your helpful links, but what are your thoughts on silicone baking mats instead of parchment paper. I have both so was wondering.

    • Hi Stacy! Thanks for the comment and question. :)
      I addressed that only in the instruction part of the post, but I prefer parchment paper to silicone baking mats. I used a Silpat for a batch or two, and the macarons did not come off very easily. It sounds like there are plenty of bakers who do like using them for macarons, but I’ll be sticking with parchment paper. Good luck with whichever you try!

  5. these are gorgeous! the photography is beautiful, the macarons are perfect, and the flavor combination sounds like just what i need. if i have time, i’ll definitely try this recipe!

  6. Thank you, lovely Laura, for the kind words of introduction and for allowing me to be a guest here! However and whenever you came to stumble upon my little blog, I am glad that you did! You continually inspire me to be a better cook and writer. Love you heaps, dear friend! xxxx

    • Aw, you beautiful thing Ali! Thanks for sharing your post with me and the readers… I cannot wait to try your recipe when I get home. Macarons are scary but you make the process a little more friendly right here. You write so well and inspire me continually! Hugs and love xxxxxx

    • Thank you Conor! I can’t take the credit though, my friend Ali created these as a guest post and I’m just lucky enough to be able to share her hints and tricks! Thanks for the kind words though. She did an amazing job!

    • Thanks, Suzanne! I completely understand your discouragement, as I failed many times with a different recipe! Food Nouveau’s advice is worth repeating: ““No recipe is universal, and the most important thing is to go slow. Try cautiously with your own instruments, ingredients and oven. You will have to try more than once before achieving perfection.” Best of luck with your next attempt!! :D

  7. Oooh, nice guest post Laura and lovely to meet Ali :)
    If ever there was a time for me to make my first macarons, now would be it! They’ve been on my mental to-do list for an age but it doesn’t get a visit very often. I should really start writing things down instead ;)
    These just look a-maz-ing! I am SO saving this recipe 100 hundred times over just so I don’t forget to do them.
    Thank you both!
    x

    • So lovely to meet you as well!
      I know what you mean about neglected mental to-do lists. :/ If only the days were a teensy bit longer to fit in everything (or at least a few more things) on our lists!
      Thanks for the kind words! I hope this recipe finds its way into your schedule at some point and that you enjoy the tasty results. :)

    • Hugs to you beautiful. P.S. Aaron and I saw a black slug near a Scottish castle the other day and thought of you and Clemmie! Miss you already – please start planning your trip to Aussieland! xxx

      • Aw but Laura, I’m broke! You’ll have to content yourself for now to look upon the slugs and think of me (and Clemmie can be snails). I wish WISH I could pop over … maybe one day when I’m super rich? That’ll do :)
        And you had a birthday!!! Happy birthday you!!! How was it? Did you eat haggis and dance to the merry tune of bagpipes? Did Aaron wear a kilt just to mark the occasion? Surely, yes?
        Xx TrixSlug

  8. Pingback: Dark Chocolate & Orange Macarons (plus macaron-making tips!) | Milk & Cereal

  9. They look lovely! The orange-chocalate combination is a winner in my book! My daughter would love these and making them would be cheaper than going to the City to buy those from Ladurée! ;-)

    • Ali did an incredible job with the macarons, I’m almost game enough to try the recipe myself (the process and technicality of macarons has spooked me for a long time!). Thanks Martine xxx

  10. Theo Chocolates is my fave!! I used to live in Seattle, where their factory is. . love love love Theo Chocolates and what a great company too. . these macarons are perfection! I’ve only made macarons once in my life and definitely need to try this recipe! love!

    • YES, Theo Chocolates are the best!! I’ve only been there once, when I was visiting Seattle, and I took the factory tour. LOVED it! Their orange chocolate bar I brought home sat in my pantry for months and months because I wanted to save it for a special recipe. Haha. What a delight it was with the macarons!

    • Haha, we should do them together when I get back Matt (followed by BBQ meat and lots of bread for me and Alyssa. And beer. Yes). I’m rather spooked by the process myself! Ali did such an amazing job. I’m seriously impressed!

  11. Though I continue to be out of the blog loop- these babies did catch my eye. It looks like you have done this before! Concise piping and lovely feet and I’m sure they taste other-worldly:) Fun to see Theo chocolates spreading across the world- I too am from just north of Seattle.
    cheers, wendy

    • I’ve never tried Theo chocolate but I’m wanting to now! The chocolate and orange combination sounds divine. And don’t worry Wendy, I am out of the loop myself since travelling… I need to seriously catch up on my blogging friends. Thanks for stopping over! xx

  12. The look amazing. The feet are perfect, the shells are smooth and the insides are lovely and moist looking. I’d quite like a macaroon now haha. Also, Colorado looks amazing. This post has made me crave macaroons and travel!

  13. These macarons are gorgeous! I love the chocolate + orange combo. I’ve never tried making macarons before – they’ve always kind of confused/scared me. But maybe I’ll try them sometime… they’re just too tempting and you’re really making me want one or several right now..
    Gorgeous pictures, beautiful job!
    Pinning!

  14. Seriously delicious Macarons and such a great story of friendship, food and blogging buddies! If there’s one thing that brings people closer together, it’s the internet and food, or is that Vice versa! Love the scrumptious photos and thanks to Laura for the intro too!!!

  15. Hello, my lovely friend! I did not even realise that you are posting. Not sure why your notifications are not showing up on my feed. I was following your travel updates on Instagram though. You seem to having an amazing time.
    Coming to the macarons, what lovely flavours and they look so pretty. It is a long time since I made them and now I am craving some. Lovely to meet Ali as well!

    • Oh, no problems Sonali, there might be a bit of a glitch in the system. It’s been fun following your recipes though and I’m glad that we can keep up with each other via Instagram :) So nice to hear from you here though. Ali is a lovely one and I’m glad that you’ve been introduced to her now! xx

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  18. Can’t wait to try – they look amazeballs! When do you add the orange oil when making the shells I can’t tell from the recipe, sorry if I’m being thick…

    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah, definitely amazeballs! I would add the orange oil to the batter when you fold the dry ingredients into the meringue, and proceed as instructed… however this is my friend Ali’s recipe (guest post) so she might say different! I will ask her and get back to you asap (sorry, I didn’t see the omission when I posted this recipe!). Hope it goes well for you x

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