Do you consider cranberries a Thanksgiving or Christmas thing? I think I may be different than others, because I mostly consider them a Christmas berry. I mean, I make cranberry sauce for turkey day, but that is generally the extent of that. Or maybe it’s both. Gosh, I don’t know. Anyway, I made these cranberry macarons in December. So that’s where I’ll leave it.
These work best for after Thanksgiving anyway, because this uses left over cranberry sauce! I consider that a win. Unless you don’t have any cranberry sauce leftover.. But we won’t worry about that right now. Let’s talk about these beauties. I was hoping they’d be a dark red, more cranberry like, less valentine’s day like. But, I ran out of food coloring when I was making them. Yep, that happened. I didn’t plan that very well! But regardless of their color, it doesn’t make them any less delicious.
Have you tried your hand at making macarons yet? They can be a finicky one. Sometimes they come out beautifully, then other times, they don’t grow their feet, or they’re hollow in the inside, and you have no idea why. And it seems that every recipe I find, everyone does something a little different each time. So I am at a loss. Clearly, I am not a very experienced macaron maker. But I hope to make more in the future. I have several recipes on my radar.
So now let’s actually talk about what’s inside these. It’s really quite simple. A super creamy frosting that is made with a little cream cheese and butter, orange zest and extract is piped around the outside rim of one side of the macaron. Then, a little dollop of cranberry sauce is spooned into the center. The frosting holds the cranberry sauce in so it doesn’t slide out or make the sandwich fall apart. And it’s an awesome combination- cranberry and orange. Vey festive in my opinion. So, gather your leftover cranberry sauce and flex your baking skills!
Shell recipe adapted from Pies & Tacos
For the shells
- 105 grams almond flour
- 105 grams confectioners’ sugar
- 100 grams egg whites
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- Food coloring and sprinkles, optional
For the orange frosting
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 2 oz. full fat cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar sifted
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon orange extract or 1 drop Wild Orange essential oil
- 1/2 -1 Tablespoon milk or heavy cream, if necessary
- cranberry sauce for filling
Have ready a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, and 2 baking sheets lined with silpat or parchment paper. Set aside. Ready your stand mixer with a clean bowl and the whisk attachment.
In a medium mixing bowl, measure and sift the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together. Set aside.
Create a double boiler by having ready a heatproof bowl that will fit in a small pot of water without touching the water. Bring water to a simmer in pot. In the bowl, combine the egg whites and granulated sugar. Place the bowl over the barely simmering water and whisk constantly. Continue whisking until the sugar has melted and the eggs are frothy white, 4-5 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the prepared stand mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on to the lowest speed and mix for 30 seconds. Gradually increase the speed and mix the egg whites until they are glossy white and form stiff peaks.
Then, pour the sifted dry ingredients into the meringue. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the meringue with a rubber spatula until no dry streaks remain. If using food coloring, fold it in with the dry ingredients.
Scoop the mixture into the prepare piping bag. Pipe the mixture on the prepared baking sheets by holding the bag at a 90º angle, and apply pressure on the bag for about 3 seconds, until a small circle has formed. Twist the bag and pull the bag up quickly. Repeat until all the batter is gone.
Gently bang the baking sheets on the counter to release any air bubbles. Use a toothpick to pop any pesky air bubbles. Sprinkle the tops with sparkling sugar, if using Let the shells sit at room temperature for 20-40 minutes, to allow the shells to dry and harden.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Place one baking sheet in the preheated oven, in the center and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating half way through. Remove from the oven and bake the other tray. Let the shells cool completely before removing from the pan.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese until combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, orange zest and orange oil/extract. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add a few teaspoons of milk or heavy cream and mix again. Scoop the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.
To assemble, match the shells by size. Pipe a boarder of frosting around the flat side of each half of the sandwiches. Spoon a small amount of cranberry sauce in the center of the frosting. Gently sandwich the macarons together, pressing gently to hold. Serve!
The assembled macarons will last for about 24 hours in the refrigerator. Otherwise, store in the fridge, unassembled, assembling before serving.