Saffron & Cardamom Macarons - New Territory in Macarons (Part II)

These beautiful saffron cardamom macarons were made a few weeks ago with Michelle from The Tiffin Box. Our first flavour was the Rooh Afza Macaron, this post is the continuation of our experimenting with Indian inspired macarons. Michelle also wrote a post about her experiences making these macarons together. 

Saffron on its own is pretty flavourless, so we decided to incorporate the saffron threads into the buttercream given their brilliant colour. The cardamom flavour came from ground up cardamom pods which were also mixed into the buttercream. 

These saffron and cardamom macarons together with the rooh afza macarons are one of the most fun and unique macaron flavours that I have made so far. As you bite into these macarons you get the initial hint of saffron followed by the warm scent of cardamom. These macarons would certainly pair well with some chai. How would you eat these saffron and cardamom macarons?    

Ingredients for the Macaron Shells:

  • 100g of Aged Egg Whites (2-3 days in airtight container at room temperature)
  • 225g of Powdered Sugar (also known as icing sugar)
  • 125g of Almond Meal
  • 5g of Dehydrated Egg White Powder (also known as albumen)
  • 28g of Granulated Sugar

French Meringue Method for Macaron Shells:

  1. Measure all ingredients with a scale.
  2. Process almond meal and icing sugar in the food processor.
  3. Sift the blended almond meal and powdered sugar through a fine mesh.
  4. Start beating egg whites at low speed (2 on my Kitchen Aid).
  5. When egg whites are foamy (mousse-like) add in the dehydrated egg white powder (albumen) and granulated sugar mixture.
  6. Put in two drops of yellow gel food colouring (Wilton Golden Yellow). Don't be afraid to make the colour more intense as the colour of the shells will lighten in the oven.
  7. Increase speed on Kitchen Aid to 4. Beat egg whites until "soft peaks" form. Do a check by stopping the mixer to check the firmness of the peak. If a peak stays up, then you are done. Ensure that they are not too stiff or foamy since that means you have gone too far! You have now made the "meringue".
    Soft Peak is also called the bird's beak - doesn't it look like one?
  8. Slowly add the blended almond meal-powdered sugar mixture 2 tablespoons at a time to the meringue you have created.
  9. Mix with a spatula in a clockwise direction. Add in two tablespoons of the almond meal mixture (you will be splitting the almond mixture up into 6 parts) while mixing in a clockwise direction:
    • 1st part= 16 turns
    • 2nd part = 11 turns
    • 3rd part = 14 turns
    • 4th part = 11 turns
    • 5th part = 11 turns
    • 6th part = 23 turns. 
    (Take a look at this video Chef Nini's for a more detailed visual.)
  10. Once the mixture feels and looks like magma (flows slowly) transfer the mixture to a piping bag.
  11. Pipe out small circles. Try piping straight down and then do a quick circular movement to the right to finish piping one shell.
    Macaron shells resting on a sheet waiting for a skin to form.
    Macaron shells resting until a skin forms.
  12. Pipe approximately 30 shells on each tray. Before piping the next sheet, firmly rap tray on floor or counter to get rid of any air bubbles inside the shells. This is called tamping. 
  13. Use a toothpick to pop the air bubbles from the shells (this part is essential as you may end up with volcano macarons instead of smooth macaron shells).
  14. Let macarons sit for at least 30-45 minutes until a skin forms on the macaron and it is dry to the touch (Resting is an important step from my experimenting).
  15. Preheat oven to 250-295 degrees Fahrenheit.

    If baking at 295F put one tray in the oven and bake for 8 minutes, then rotate tray (by now the feet should have formed) and bake for another 11 minutes.

    If baking at 250F bake the shells for 20-30 minutes before rotating the pan and baking for another 10 minutes. This allows for the shells to rise slowly enough to form a firm crust and the sought after pied (feet)
  16. Take out of oven, allow macarons to cool.
  17. Peel from silpat/silicon mat, and get ready to fill with your buttercream.

  • Everyone's oven is different! As mentioned in my previous macaron posts, I highly encourage you to experiment, bake test batches and take notes. Even creating a table in your notes to chart is helpful!
  • Each row that I pipe my macaron shells is offset from the other so that I pipe approximately 25-30 shells per sheet.

    Pairs of baked macaron shells on a baking sheet that are matched according to size
    Baked macaron shells that have been paired

Saffron and Cardamom Buttercream

Small bowl with Saffron Threads
Saffron threads

Ingredients for Saffron Cardamom Buttercream:

  • 80g Caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 25g Water
  • 1 Whole egg (~60g)
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 160g Soft unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
  • A pinch of saffron threads
  • 5 Cardamom Pods
two small bowls, one containing ground cardamom, the other containing saffron threads
Ground Cardamom on left and Saffron threads on right

Directions for Saffron Cardamom Buttercream:

  1. Peel and discard the shells off the cardamom pods, then grind the seeds (I used a Magic Bullet).
  2. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small pot.
  3. Heat the sugar to 250F(120C). As it boils clean the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush. Try not to continually mix the solution. Allow the mixture to heat on its own.
  4. In another bowl or the bowl of your Kitchen Aid whisk the eggs. Once the egg yolks lightens in colour turn off the mixer. 
    Bowl of Whisked Eggs
    Whisked Eggs

  5. While the sugar mixture is heating add the saffron threads to the egg mixture, try to keep it near the side of the bowl as you will need to pour the hot sugar mixture over it.
    Threads of Saffron on top of whisked eggs in a mixing bowl.
    Saffron threads with the colour already seeping out.
  6. Once the hot sugar mixture reaches 250F pour immediately into the whisking egg mixture over the saffron and then immediately turn on the mixer to begin whisking high speed (8 on the KitchenAid).
  7. Continue whisking until the mixture has cooled down completely. It will start to look like a meringue and be glossy.
    Picture of glossy meringue dripping from a whisk.
    Glossy meringue for buttercream
  8. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, cream then whisk the butter until it has thickened.
  9. Once the egg mixture-meringue has cooled (approx. 10-15 minutes), slowly whisk in the butter.
  10. Continue whisking until the buttercream is smooth. It may curdle slightly but this is okay. Keep whisking and the butter cream will come back together.
  11. Add the ground cardamom into the buttercream and whisk until combined. 
    Saffron and Cardamom buttercream.
    Saffron and Cardamom buttercream
  12. Immediately transfer buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a nozzle.
  13. Match each shell to a pair, before piping a small mound of buttercream onto each half shell.
  14. Top with the matching shell to finish the macaron.
    Rows of macaron shells with piped buttercream
    Saffron and Cardamom buttercream sandwiched between macaron shells


Saffron is very expensive so a little goes a long way, especially if you're using it just for colour. In our case, we were experimenting so the amount of saffron threads you use in the buttercream is up to you.  

Plate of Saffron Cardamom Macarons arranged in groups of three

Pictures of  Indian Inspired Macarons

Here are some fun pictures of both the Rooh Afza Macarons and the Saffron Cardamom Macarons on a cake pedestal.


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