- Course: Dessert
- Skill Level: Challenging
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 21 Times
Can be made ahead of time.
This is a different kind of cookie from the ones we generally call macaroons here in America. These are French macaroons, two light, crispy hazelnut, almond, or pistachio meringues sandwiched together around a filling. See the variations below for delicious filling alternatives.
Grind and sift the dry ingredients:
Combine the hazelnuts and 1 cup of the confectioners sugar in a nut grinder or food processor and grind to a fine powder, stopping the machine once or twice to scrape down the corners and sides and toss the nuts around. In a dry bowl, whisk the ground nuts with the remaining confectionary sugar and salt. Set aside.
Make the meringue (see the Note on a French meringue and egg white foams):
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until they begin to foam. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until the whites are completely foamy and begin to hold the line of the whisk. Add the sugar, 2 teaspoons at a time. As you add the sugar, the whites will become shiny and gain volume. Turn the mixer to slow speed, add the remaining sugar, and beat until the meringue is shiny and smooth with soft peaks.
Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue:
Scrape the meringue into the dry ingredients and gently fold together until the dry ingredients have been absorbed by the meringue and the mixture is smooth and creamy. If the batter seems a bit stiff-it holds the point of a spatula if you quickly remove it-continue folding until it has a more fluid texture. Do not work it so much that the batter becomes runny.
Pipe the cookies:
Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment. Scrape half of the batter into a pastry bag with the top folded back in a 4-inch cuff, and fitted with a round tip (#4 to #6). Unfold the cuff and twist the top of the bag closed, pushing and squeezing the batter down toward the tip. Hold the bag upright, about 1 inch above the cookie sheet, and gently squeeze out small mounds 1¼ inches in diameter, which will settle into 1½-inch circles. Give the bag a gentle squeeze and then quickly pull the tip up so you control how much comes out and how the cookie ultimately takes shape. Squeeze out 6 rows of 7 cookies per cookie sheet. Allow the cookies to sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, to dry out the tops. Do not bake until you can gently touch the top of a piped cookie without any residue remaining on your finger.
Make an orange buttercream:
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or a medium-sized stainless-steel bowl on a wet rag to hold the bowl in place), combine the yolks and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and whisk for 30 seconds.
Simultaneously, in a small saucepan, combine the orange zest, remaining ½ cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water. Cook over high heat until the mixture reaches 248°F on a candy thermometer. To test the syrup without a thermometer, dip a fork into the syrup and drizzle a bit on the counter. The sugar droplet should cool into a pliable ball that scrapes cleanly off the counter.
Drizzle the orange syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg yolks, whisking them briskly to blend. Continue whisking the egg yolk mixture until the yolks have tripled in volume, hold the lines of the whisk, and have cooled. Add the butter and Grand Marnier and whisk until the buttercream is fluffy and creamy with stiff, shiny, pointy peaks.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set two racks in the oven, one at the very top and one on the bottom.
Bake the macaroons:
Once the macaroons have dried properly, place one cookie sheet in the oven on the top shelf for 8 minutes. Open the oven door, rotate the cookie sheet, and place it on the bottom shelf. Place the second cookie sheet in the oven on the top shelf and bake for another 8 minutes. After baking first on the top shelf and then on the bottom, the cookies should be ready. Remove the sheet on the bottom shelf from the oven and repeat this baking process until all four cookie sheets have been baked. The macaroons should have puffed evenly, become shiny, and fallen slightly. They almost look like half a hamburger bun.
Fill and sandwich the macaroons:
Once the cookies have cooled, flip half of the cookies over. Scrape the buttercream into a pastry bag with the top folded back in a 4-inch cuff, and fitted with a 1/3-inch-diameter round tip. Unfold the cuff and twist the top of the bag closed, pushing and squeezing the buttercream down toward the tip. Hold the bag upright, about 1 inch above each inverted cookie, and gently squeeze out a small mound of butter cream, about the size of a nickel, onto the upturned cookies. Do not cover the whole cookie; there should be a clear rim of cookie around the mound of butter cream. Top each cookie with a second macaroon, gently pressing down so the buttercream spreads to the edges of the sandwich.
Serve these cookies with a cup of coffee or tea.
Substitute almonds for hazelnuts and use any flavor of butter cream.
To make a vanilla buttercream, omit the orange zest and slice and scrape a vanilla bean into the boiling syrup. The Grand Marnier (or other alcohol) is optional.
Melt 2 ounces of chocolate, allow it to cool, and whisk it into the finished buttercream.
Storage: These cookies will keep, stored in a container, in the freezer for 1 month.
Nutritional information is based on a serving size of 1 sandwich cookie.