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5 from 6 votes

Saffron Orange Thyme Macarons

These saffron infused Orange Thyme Macarons are crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside and they come laden with a generous scoop of a rich, buttery filling in between the shells. They make a gorgeous & dainty edible gift.
The orange & thyme cream butter was inspired by Pierre Hermé's lemon macarons.
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time18 mins
Total Time1 hr 48 mins
Course: Baking
Cuisine: French
Keyword: macarons, orange macarons, saffron macarons, thyme macarons
Servings: 36 Macarons
Author: Jane Saunders

Ingredients

For the Orange Thyme Cream Butter

  • 2 Fresh eggs (110g out of shell)
  • 120g Caster sugar (white)
  • 80ml Orange juice + zest 1 orange
  • 175g Butter
  • 25g Ground almonds
  • 2tsp Fresh thyme leaves - picked from stem

For the Saffron Macarons

  • 160g Egg whites (approx 4 large eggs) Weigh them - precision is very important here
  • 20 Strands saffron (optional)
  • 235g Icing (confectionary) sugar
  • 165g Ground almonds (see notes)
  • 100g Caster sugar (white)
  • Gel food colouring - egg yellow (optional)

Instructions

For the Orange Thyme Cream Butter

  • Fill sink with 3 inches cold water
  • Put the eggs, orange juice & zest and thyme into a medium heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water
  • Use an electric whisk to beat the mixture until it reaches 70C/ 160F. It will take 15-20 minutes - keep checking the temperature every few minutes with a culinary thermometer (like Thermapen). Once the correct temperature is reached plunge the mixing bowl into the cold water to stop it cooking further and help it cool down to 55C/ 130F
  • Scrape any zest and thyme off the beaters and add to the mixing bowl
  • Cube the butter, drop into the mixing bowl and blitz using a hand blender until smooth
  • Stir in the ground almonds
  • Let cool completely, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours

For the Saffron Macarons

  • Preheat oven 150C/ 300F/ GM2 and line 4 baking sheets with baking parchment (insert a template underneath if using or draw small circles (approx 3cm in diameter) onto the baking parchment and flip it over so the pencil/ ink is on the reverse). The macarons can be spaced 1.5 cm apart as they do not spread during cooking.
  • Measure the egg whites (it's really important to be precise on your weights in this recipe so I recommend using digital scales) into a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle over the saffron (if using). Let sit for 10 minutes
  • If using blanched almonds grind in a processor (or coffee grinder) until fine 
  • Mix the ground almonds with the icing sugar and sieve into a medium sized mixing bowl. Set aside
  • Begin to whisk the egg whites, using electric beaters until at the soft peak stage
  • Add the caster sugar, a dessert spoon at a time, beating well between each addition
  • When the meringue is glossy and the egg white is fully incorporated add the gel (if using) a little at a time and beat well to ensure the colour is evenly distributed
  • Add the meringue to the icing sugar and almonds and fold it in using a rubber spatula, taking care to ensure ingredients from the sides and bottom are incorporated. The aim is to knock some air out of the mixture, but not too much - so go steady - not ultra gentle and not ultra rough
  • After 25 folds the batter will be approaching it's ideal state. Lift the spatula out and let a little mixture drop back into the bowl - it should fall in ribbons over the surface and blend back in after about 20 seconds. If it doesn't blend back in on it's own give the mix a couple more turns with the spatula and reassess. Keep doing this until the ideal state is reached - it should remind you of lava. If your mix is too thick your macaroons will not have a smooth top. If it is too runny, they will spread too far and be flat. Take your time and go steady with the folding until the batter blends back into itself after 20 seconds. If you go too fast and end up with runny batter it cannot be salvaged. Aim
  • Once the batter is ready spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip approx 1cm in diameter (I used a Wilton 1A). Pipe circles approx 3cm in diameter onto the baking parchment (don't forget - a template or circles drawn on will help you achieve uniform sized macaron shells). 
  • Pick up the baking tin and tap it lightly on your work surface to help eliminate any points that may have formed on the shells. Remove the templates (if used) by carefully lifting up an edge of baking parchment and sliding it out. Let the macaron shells rest for 30 minutes to form a tacky skin
  • Transfer to the oven and back for approx 18 minute. Open the oven door briefly after 5 minutes and again 5 minutes later to let out steam 
  • After 18 minutes try to carefully lift one of the macarons off the baking sheet. If it comes off cleanly, the macarons are fully cooked and can be removed from the oven. If you feel resistance, return the macarons to the oven for a further 2 minutes and test again
  • When out of the oven, slide the macarons (on their parchment) off the baking sheets, to prevent further cooking and allow to cool on a work surface
  • Once completely cool, gently peel them off the baking parchment and sandwich the macarons together using the orange thyme butter. For a professional look pipe a large tespoonful (12-15g) into the centre of one shell, then top with another shell 
  • Rest in the fridge overnight and allow to come back to room temperature before serving. The macarons must rest for 12 hours to ensure that the trademark macaron texture (crisp on the outside, yet soft in the middle) is achived
  • Store the macarons, refrigerated, for up to 1 week

Notes

I apologise that this recipe does not come with cup or ounce measurements as well as grams - the numbers just do not compute well in these measurements. I can wholeheartedly recommend a purchase of digital kitchen scales so that grams become an easy measurement regardless of where you are in the world.