Perfect crunchy-on-the-outside chewy-on-the-inside macarons filled with Cara Cara Orange Curd and Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream. This macaron recipe uses the Italian Method.
I’ve been dying to develop a new macaron recipe. A citrus one in particular. And when I saw the Cara Cara and Mandarin Oranges at the grocery store last week, I knew these babies were happening. They are SO delicious. That subtle tart flavor from the orange is just to-die-for. You could definitely use the orange Swiss meringue buttercream and orange curd for lots of other things – fill and frost a cake, cupcakes, scones, sugar cookies, etc.
Macarons aren’t the easiest cookies in the world by any means, but once you get the hang of it, they’re so fun to make. Not to mention how freakin’ cute they are. I’ll walk you through the recipe and also go through some common mistakes and how to avoid them and bake the perfect macs. Let’s get to it!
How to Make Cara Cara Macarons
Make the Macaron Shells
I like to make the macaron shells first. I’ll often even bake them ahead – the day before, or even longer and then store them in the freezer until I’m ready to use them. But, of course, you can make all the components on the same day if you want!
Start by sifting together the powdered sugar and almond flour, tossing out and large pieces as you go. I sift the mixture 3 times. It seems tedious, but it helps get those smooth shiny tops on your macs. Once sifted, pour the powdered sugar almond flour mixture into a large bowl, make a well in the center, and the add 82 g of egg whites into the well. Use a rubber spatula to fold the egg whites into the mixture. It will seem super thick and crumbly and that there’s not enough liquid for it to come together. But, just keep folding and it will come together into a thick paste. Set aside.
In a medium stockpot, add the water and granulated sugar. Heat over medium high heat and monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, add the remaining 90 g of egg whites and a pinch of sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Once the water/sugar mixture reaches 200 degrees, begin whipping the egg whites on medium speed and whip them until they reach soft peaks. Around the same time, the water/sugar mixture should be about ready. Once it reaches 248 degrees, remove it from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low, and slowly and carefully pour the sugar syrup down the side of the mixing bowl into the egg whites. Once you have added all the sugar syrup, turn the mixer to high and mix until the meringue reaches stiff peaks – about 7-8 minutes.
Fold the meringue into the almond flour mixture 1/3 at a time. Mix until it is combined, then add another 1/3. Once it’s all combined, add a bit of orange food coloring, then continue to gently fold the mixture together until it reaches a ribbon like texture. You should be able to pick up the macaron batter with your spatula and draw a figure 8 with the batter as it falls off of the spatula without it breaking. This is the trickiest part of macaron making and is called macaronage. Too much folding and you’ll have problems. Too little folding and you’ll have problems.
Once the batter is ready to go, fit a piping bag with a small/medium round tip and fill it with the batter. Pipe the cookies out onto either parchment paper, or a silicone macaron baking mat. I prefer to use the silicon mats for macarons, because you won’t have to make a guide and all of the macarons will be exactly the same size and shape. Hold the piping bag straight up while you pipe and just squeeze, then do a quick swirl motion at the end and pull away to prevent having a little peak on your macs.
After you have them all piped, rap the baking sheet on the counter 4-5 times. This will cause any air bubbles to rise to the top and pop. Pop any stubborn ones with a toothpick. Let the macarons rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes – up to an hour. They should form a little skin and if you lightly touch the tops, they shouldn’t be tacky. This is how you get those pretty feet on macarons!
Preheat the oven to 295 and bake for 18 minutes. This is what works perfectly in my oven, but it might be something you need to tweak a little bit. If they brown too quickly, try lowering the temperature to 285. If you’re getting hollow cookies, try 305.
Make the Cara Cara Orange Curd
You can start making the curd while the macarons are resting on the counter, or easily make this up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge. But, if you do make it in advance, be aware that you might end up eating it all on your toast before it ever sees a macaron.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, orange zest, and egg yolks. Pour in the orange juice and salt and whisk until combined. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and then add the butter. Constantly stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. This will take about 5 minutes. Once bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, it’s done. Don’t allow it to come to a full boil.
Remove from heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve into a glass bowl or mason jar. This will ensure there’s no bits of cooked egg in the curd. Cover with plastic wrap – pressing the plastic wrap right onto the surface of the orange curd -and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the mixer bowl on top of a sauce pan filled with a couple inches of water – just make sure the the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Heat over medium until sugar has completely dissolved. You can rub a little between your fingers to test it – don’t worry, it won’t be too hot. If it feels grainy AT ALL, it isn’t ready. Once it’s completely smooth, remove from heat.
Place the bowl on the mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip until glossy and stiff peaks form – this should take about 13-15 minutes and bowl shouldn’t feel warm to the touch. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice. Mix to combine.
Add the softened butter, 1 TBSP at a time, waiting until it is incorporated before adding the next TBSP. Once all the butter is added, continue to mix until the frosting is buttery smooth and glossy, 3-5 minutes. If the buttercream looked curdled or separated, don’t panic. Just, keep mixing and it will come together. However, if the meringue was still too warm and caused your buttercream to be warm, you might need to pop it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes, then mix again.
Assemble the Cara Cara Macarons
Match up the macarons by size. If you used a silicone mat like mine, they should all be essentially identical in size. Fit a piping bag with your favorite tip – I used Wilton 32 for these guys. Pipe a circle around the edges of one macaron shell. Then, spoon about 1/2 tsp of the cara cara orange curd into the middle. Top with the other macaron shell and press them together gently.
You can eat them right away, but I prefer to pop them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so they’re a little chilled. So dang good! They will keep in the fridge for up to a week!Print
Perfectly crisp on the outside chewy on the inside macaron shells filled with cara cara orange curd and orange swiss meringue buttercream.
For the Macaron Shells
- 212 g Powdered Sugar
- 212 g Almond Flour
- 82 g and 90 g Egg Whites, separated
- 235 g Granulated Sugar, plus a pinch
- 158 g Water
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Orange Food Coloring
For the Cara Cara Orange Curd
- 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
- 1 TBSP Cara Cara Orange Zest
- 1/3 C Cara Cara Orange Juice, freshly squeezed
- 4 Lg Egg Yolks
- Pinch of Salt
- 5 TBSP Unsalted Butter, cold and cubed
For the Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 3 Lg Egg Whites
- 1 C Granulated Sugar
- 3/4 C (1 1/2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, cubed at room temperature
- Zest and Juice of 1 Orange
- Pinch of Salt
For the Macaron Shells
- Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together 3 times. This will help achieve smooth macaron tops. Then, in a large bowl, fold together the powdered sugar/almond flour mixture with the 82 g of egg whites. It will be a very thick paste. Set aside
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the water and granulated sugar. Heat over medium high heat, monitoring the temperature with a candy thermometer.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment add the remaining 90 g of egg whites and a pinch of sugar.
- When the water/sugar mixture reaches 200 degrees, start whipping the egg whites in the mixer on medium high speed until you reach soft peaks.
- When the water/sugar mixture reaches 248 degrees, remove from the heat and slowly pour down the side of the mixer with the mixer running on low speed.
- Once all of the sugar syrup is incorporated, turn the mixer up to high and whip until stiff peaks – about 7 minutes.
- Fold the egg white meringue into the almond flour mixture 1/3 at a time. When it’s all incorporated, add a bit of orange food coloring, then continue to fold together until the mixture runs off of your spatula in a smooth ribbon without breaking.
- Pour the macaron batter into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip, then pipe onto cookie sheet with macaron baking mat. You can also use parchment, but it will be harder to get the macarons all the same size.
- Rap the baking sheet on the counter a few times to release air bubbles, and pop any stubborn ones with a toothpick. Let them rest on the counter for 30-40 minutes, until the top has formed a skin and you can lightly touch them without it sticking to your finger.
- Preheat the oven to 295 and bake for 18 minutes. The macarons should be totally set, and not wiggly when you press on them. Let them cool completely.
For the Cara Cara Orange Curd
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, orange zest, and egg yolks. Pour in the orange juice and salt and whisk to combine. Place the pan over medium heat and add the butter.
- Cook, while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon- about 6-7 minutes. Don’t let it boil.
- Cool completely in the fridge until ready to use. When covering it, press the plastic directly onto the surface of the curd so that it doesn’t form a skin.
For the Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- In your stand mixer bowl, add the sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl over a saucepan filled with a couple inches of water. Don’t let the bottom of the mixing bowl touch the water.
- Turn heat to medium high, and cook until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Test the mixture in between two fingers. If it feels grainy at all, it isn’t ready. Once completely smooth, remove from heat.
- Using the whisk attachment, whisk the egg white mixture until stiff glossy peaks form and the bowl isn’t warm to the touch. Add the orange zest and juice.
- Switch to the paddle attachment, and add the softened butter, 1 TBSP at a time until it’s all combined.
- Continue to mix until the buttercream is thick and smooth. If it starts to look curdled, don’t panic, just keep mixing until it comes together.
- Pipe the buttercream on one macaron shell in a circle.
- Spoon some orange curd into the middle.
- Top with another macaron shell.
- Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Keywords: orange macarons, french macaron recipe, citrus macarons
Common Macarons Mistakes
- Oven Temperature – The best way to make sure your oven temp is accurate is with an oven thermometer. Oven temps range a lot, so you might have to experiment a little.
- Improper Macaronage – You should be able to trace several figure 8s with the batter without it breaking, but don’t want it to be too thin and have it spread too much. It’s a tricky balance.
- Not resting the batter before baking – if you don’t rest the batter to achieve that skin on top, you won’t get those pretty little macaron feet that make these cookies so special.
- Under whipping the egg whites – Your egg white meringue should be glossy with super stiff peaks that stand straight up!
- Skipping the sifting -Sifting is a chore, I get it. But if you want smooth macarons, it’s not optional and totally worth it!