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Grapefruit and Anise Macarons

Grapefruit Macarons With Anise Buttercream

I am always happy to help my friends or lend a hand. When they have baking questions, I generally have an answer or know where to find it (mom). When that baking question involves my making macarons to help illustrate the answer, you can bet I am happily whipping up a batch. If anyone asks me the ins and outs of food chemistry or needs some kitchen mystery answered, I send them to my friend Brian also knows as "The Food Geek".

Not only is Brian the ultimate nice guy, he is also a true geek of food, always exploring and researching. I have had the pleasure to meet Brian on a foodie trip last year and really enjoyed his theories and explanations. Let’s just say that if my computer would pass out on me for no obvious reason I’d call him first and have him troubleshoot things.

He asked me one day if I knew why a particular recipe for macarons that he emailed would have a strong meringue flavor. It took me just about 2 seconds to message back that the recipe did not yield traditional French macarons and relied solely on meringue as the building block. Hence the strong meringue flavor. I mentioned the balance of almonds to egg whites in macarons which usually balances out a strong egg white flavor.


Brian asked if I could create a macaron that would fit the criteria asked by one of his readers: grapefruit or blood orange, not strong on the egg white flavor. I did not change much to my original recipe and used grapefruit zest to flavor the shells.
I did however have fun with the buttercream and used a nice complimentary flavor by adding some Pastis (anise liquor) to the buttercream. Any non alcoholic anise flavoring would work but Pastis reminds me of long summer days back home and a cold Pastis at the local cafe.

I am biased when it comes to macarons so I did ask Bill if he thought they add a strong meringue taste. He nodded "nope" but mentioned that the grapefruit made his upper lip numb.

So…here is a question for Brian: given that it was an organic, pesticide free grapefruit, what could have caused his upper lip to go numb? The citric acid? An alkaline ph? Any ways to fix or prevent this?

His job never ends…You can read his full article on the subject of meringue cookies by clicking on this link.

Oh and look….A French Word A Week review: pamplemousse!

Grapefruit Macarons With Anise Buttercream

Grapefruit and Anise Macarons:
Makes 25-30 filled cookies

For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the fridge, covered or 24-36hrs at room temperature, covered)
25 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)
1 teaspoon finely grated grapefruit zest

Prepare the macarons:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar and almonds and grapefruit zest in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F (convection – 300F regular). When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

For the buttercream:
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-2 tablespoon Pastis (or Ouzo, or anise flavor, extract)

Place the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream (temperature should be about 235-238F). Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-8 minutes. Add the liquor or extract and fold with a spatula. Fill a pastry bag with it and pipe on the macarons.

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Parigote May 24, 2010 um 12:53 pm

Grapefruit and anise is a sweat association !

Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle May 24, 2010 um 1:12 pm

What a unique and refreshing combination; of course yours also just happen to look so beautiful!

I guess practice makes perfect but not sure how many practices I have in me for these elegant but finicky little gems!

tami May 24, 2010 um 1:17 pm

Of all the amazing flavor combos you've come up with, I want to try these the most. they look amazing, dear! xoxo

– tami

♥peachkins♥ May 24, 2010 um 1:25 pm

one of a kind flavor combo!

maria May 24, 2010 um 1:51 pm

Great pictures, as always.

WendyinKK May 24, 2010 um 2:37 pm

I like the 2nd pic a lot, a fresh change from the usual styling (1st pic is like "as always")

I love having a friend like Brian.

Paula May 24, 2010 um 3:15 pm

that second pic is totally amazing! I`ve never done macarons and your looks awesome!

La cuisine des 3 soeurs May 24, 2010 um 3:27 pm

Fais un essai avec une ganache montée anisée au chocolat blanc et des morceaux de fenouils confits.

m May 24, 2010 um 4:00 pm

Oh, that's curious, I want to know why it made his lip numb! I love grapefruit, and I think that's happened to me before…

Engineer Baker May 24, 2010 um 5:58 pm

How weird, it made his lip go numb?! Huh. I've never found macarons to have a strong egg white flavor either, so I guess I'm biased as well 🙂 This sounds like a wonderful flavor combination though – cool and refreshing.

this free bird May 24, 2010 um 6:34 pm

Oh hello!! These are gluten-free and macaroons are a favorite. Thanks for an amazing post! Can't wait to try them!!

Anonymous May 24, 2010 um 7:46 pm

Attractive combination, grapefruit and anise.
Great post. Thanks!!

Lynn in Tucson May 24, 2010 um 7:48 pm

Hmmm…the only problem with Pastis macarons is I would have to eat them all myself. I don't think anyone else in the family would go for it. (Bien dommage!)

April May 24, 2010 um 7:48 pm

I get so excited when you do a macaron recipe…the combinations you put together, the photos, etc. Thanks again!

wishful nals May 24, 2010 um 7:53 pm

i just stumbled across your blog, and i don't think i'll ever leave. i love it.

Punctuation Mark May 24, 2010 um 9:38 pm

This is to kill me slowly and sweetly… i absolutely love macaroons!!!!!

Parisbreakfasts May 25, 2010 um 1:00 am

Where ever do you come up with these combo Tarty?
Honestly PH move over!
You have outdone Le Maitre!
As far as Bill's lips going numb…um, has he checked his toes lately? Could be that thing with extremities etc..
I never heard of adding zest to the meringues – most unique idea.
Really I'm beginning to think I will have to break down and attempt to make these suckers one of these days.
I know tragedie awaits me in spades…

The Iconic May 25, 2010 um 1:33 am

Looks delicious!x

Maria May 25, 2010 um 3:07 am

Great flavors all in one tiny macaron.

Alexandra May 25, 2010 um 4:19 am

Fascinating combo! I can't wait to try them once I get my kitchen set up again…

Captivating photos, such a harmonious balance of color/contrast…I tell ya you have a bionic eye for aesthetics!

Coco May 25, 2010 um 4:37 am

Oh these are just beautiful Helene! I've never heard of a grapefruit macaron! Oh and anise! one of my favorite spices!

jacqueline May 25, 2010 um 6:05 am

I LOVE macarons and these looks really yummie!! Your photos are so gorgeous! Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!

Unknown May 25, 2010 um 9:43 am

Oh, I love macarons photo!

Victoria Balloon May 25, 2010 um 3:34 pm

Kiwi makes my tongue go numb; that's a symptom of a mild food allergy. Do grapefruit always make his tongue go numb?

Weekend Cowgirl May 25, 2010 um 3:52 pm

They are so pretty!!!

a. maren May 25, 2010 um 5:42 pm

what beautiful macarons! i have had terrible luck with macarons lately, and i'm glad yours came out so beautiful! i'll have to try this recipe and see if i can make it work for me. 🙂

The Teacher Cooks May 25, 2010 um 8:08 pm

What a beautiful photo! I love the pastel. Maybe one day I will try my hand at making these until then I will just drool over yours.

Truly Smitten May 25, 2010 um 9:30 pm

oh man..I GOTTA try this now!

Kate @ Savour Fare May 25, 2010 um 11:02 pm

My grandfather makes a cocktail that's rum, grapefruit juice and a float of pernod. We drink it for brunch and it's called a navy grog. So these are kind of navy grog macarons. I love it.

Kate @ Savour Fare May 25, 2010 um 11:02 pm

My grandfather makes a cocktail that's rum, grapefruit juice and a float of pernod. We drink it for brunch and it's called a navy grog. So these are kind of navy grog macarons. I love it.

oneordinaryday May 26, 2010 um 12:33 am

Every time I see your macarons, I feel like such a wimp for being too scared to tackle them in my own kitchen. They are sooo perfectly beautiful!

Kristen May 26, 2010 um 2:33 am

I may be the queen of shortbread, but I've yet to make macaroons that look like perfect macaroons. This recipe (and the gorgeous pictures) has inspired me to try one more time! If this works it's back to try pistachio brulee, because yum!

Kristen May 26, 2010 um 2:38 am

I may be the queen of shortbread, but I've yet to make macaroons that look like perfect macaroons. This recipe (and the gorgeous pictures) has inspired me to try one more time! If this works it's back to try pistachio brulee, because yum!

Two fit and fun gals May 26, 2010 um 6:31 am

how refreshing would these taste mmm !

Leni May 27, 2010 um 1:59 am

Little macroonie pictures of delight. I'm not a fan of anything aniseed flavoured, but I would seriously consider this.

I do so love the Pamplemousse!

Erica May 27, 2010 um 2:03 am

These look wonderful!
I've never tried a macaron before. I think I may have to very soon.

Michiki May 27, 2010 um 5:20 pm

First-time commenter, long-time fan/lurker! I stumbled into a rhubarb bar recipe on Lara Ferroni's blog that is topped with rhubarb curd, and I have plans to make and share them out. The curd recipe yields twice as much curd as you need, so I was faced with a decision; halve the recipe, or, much more preferably, figure out what to do with extra rhubarb curd. It only took about three seconds for macarons to start dancing around my head! I've pulled up your recipe for powdered strawberry macarons, and they will soon receive a tasty dollop of rhubarb curd in their middles! It's going to be my first attempt at macarons, but you make it much less intimidating; thank you! I'm intensely excited for these to be a reality. Thank you for the inspiration! Hooray for spring and strawberry rhubarb macarons!

Susan May 27, 2010 um 5:36 pm

YEAH. Finally another Macaron Recipe. Will definitely try it out! I think the pH of the grapefruit is what might make his lip feel fuzzy.

maybelles mom May 28, 2010 um 3:02 am

these are making me very, very happy. lovely.

Ms Licorice May 29, 2010 um 4:06 am

While I don't read your blog regularly (nor do I read anyone's blog regularly) I do have an educated palate and I always support (albeit silently) your sublime sense of style and you innate talent as a foodie.

When I read the comment from your friend the "food geek", he seems less supportive of you and more supportive of himself…and he doesn't seem to have an educated palate. Trust your own talents and gifts.

I had meant to post this sooner…and decided to post it now…what a peculiar event happened…my chef friend had asked me what I was cooking next and I said sheepishly: "Do you really want to know? I'm going to make an almond and pear tart"….and you had made an almond and apricot tart similarly to what I was thinking about….then I decided to write you about the "food geek".

I trust your instints.


Helene May 29, 2010 um 4:23 am

Ms Licorice:
I think something got lost in translation because all I can say from knowing Brian in real life is that you got him all wrong. There was no need from him to be supportive since 1/we were not competing for spotlight and 2/I was helping him out eliminating or securing the options that would best answer his reader.

If he did not have an educated palate, he woould have completely "eeweeed" the anise idea which he did not. He thought it was refreshing, interesting and palate provoking.

I have to say I don't see where the "trust your instinct" part comes into play "versus" Brian. He asked me to explain why macarons would have less of a meringue flavor than other egg white based cookies and I did. He's still searching for a cookie that meets the criteria given by his reader, that would not be a macarons. To me that's the sign of a dedicated foodie.

Pretention gets one no where in the kitchen and Brian is far from it. He had nothing but praise for "my gifts and my talents" if I may quote you.

TheFoodGeek May 29, 2010 um 11:37 am

Hi, Miss Licorice,

Is this because I suggested that, if someone wanted, they could skip the anise filling and just make the shells? My column on Fine Cooking is a question and answer column, and someone had asked me about how to make something that is similar to just the outside shell of the cookie, so I wanted to ensure that I was answering the question as completely as possible. This was especially important as I was doing a bad job of answering the question in the first place, so I figured I would get as close as I possibly could.

For Helen, she clearly did fantastic work, as always. That's why I asked for her help. If she hadn't been able to help, the question would have languished in the dustbin, completely unanswered (rather than just partially unanswered, due to my lack of knowledge).

mamabyrd May 30, 2010 um 8:42 pm

Numb lips… sounds like a reaction to the enzymes found in fruits and vegetables. A sensitivity to certain enzymes can cause a faux anaphylactic reaction. It is not a true anaphylactic reaction, as in your airways do not swell up, but you experience a similar reaction in that your lips, throat, and/or ear canals will often tingle or grow numb or feel itchy. It's a very strange feeling! Common fruits/veggies that can cause a reaction like this include (but are not inclusive for everyone, some may bother you while others do not); stone fruits, avocado, citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, carrots (particularly baby carrots). The younger the fruit/veggie, the higher the enzyme content – the riper they get, the less enzymes remain active. Freezing or heating above 180' will kill the enzymes enough to consume for someone who suffers with this version of food sensitivity. The tricky part is dealing with the fruit/veggies that can neither be frozen or heated for consumption, or rather you wouldn't prepare them that way – like avocados or grapefruit! Anyway, this sensitivity is very common and can come and go thru childhood and adulthood. Different enzymes bother different people, so while one person may be sensitive to kiwi another person would be sensitive to carrots and not vice-versa.

Helene May 30, 2010 um 9:47 pm

Jena: thanks for taking the time to write this all down but I don't think that's the case though. He had grapefruit cake with zest, pulp, skin, etc…and he had no reaction. From talking to one of the store clerks I think that we were sold a conventional fruit instead of an organic one when they were filling the bins at the same time and the residue of pesticide even after being washed is what caused the tingling on his tongue.

Rick May 31, 2010 um 2:49 am

Those look positively perfect in every way!

Ms Licorice June 2, 2010 um 2:27 am

I apologize (sincerely).

Helene June 2, 2010 um 2:34 am

Ms Licorice: misunderstandings happen. It's hard to convey everything in writing, personalities, frienship, admiration or frustration.
I do hope you keep on discovering Brian as his geekiness is truly genuine and his methodical approach something that is rare these days.

material girl June 2, 2010 um 7:01 am

have just hit print and am about to age the eggwhites for the weekend! this is perfect!

WendyinKK June 7, 2010 um 4:46 pm

Oh sorry,
What I meant in my earlier comment was the 2nd macaron picture, which was actually the 3rd picture in this post.

I liked the not-as-usual white background.

Y June 9, 2010 um 6:18 am

Fascinating post. Just the kind of thing I love reading about. Interesting to hear about the grapefruit causing a numbing effect – I'm not sure if I've encountered that before. As an aside, I was once told to add a sprig of rosemary into my egg white mixture when whipping it for a particular souffle, because it apparently neutralises any excessive 'eggy' flavour in the end result.

Adriana from Bittersweet Baker July 30, 2010 um 11:01 am

Your macarons always look so perfect, and these are no exception! I was wondering: would I get different results if I halved the recipe than if I made the whole recipe? Thank you!

Helene July 30, 2010 um 1:22 pm

Adriana: no idea I have never tried. Let me know what happpens if you decide to halve them. Just watch out for the folding, it will come together faster.

Anonymous May 14, 2011 um 10:21 am

If anyone was still wondering, the cause of the grapefruit (or almond related) numbness is likely OAS or Oral Allergy Syndrome. It's a food allergy that results from an allergy to various pollens, such as birch or other, and affects 20% of people who have a pollen allergy causing their lips/mouth/throat to itch/swell/become numb. Interestingly enough, it rarely affects anything other than the lips, mouth or throat area (as in, it should not cause you get hives all over), since the chemical compound the person is allergic to is broken down by enzymes in saliva. Allergy shots or medication may diminish this, but for the most part these have proven ineffective. Usually, the best solution for this is not to ingest the offending fruits in their raw nature, cooking them or processing them in some way will resolve the issue. If you do a google search on Oral Allergy Syndrome, you should be able to find out what pollen allergies are connected to what.

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