For a while, I wanted to combine lavender, honey and vanilla in a mix that would be crunchy, chewy and creamy. I’ve earned for a combination where each taste would shine on it’s own but together would form a symphony of flavors and would send a couple of taste buds for a swing of waltz. This is the philosophical version of the story, in reality I had purple food colouring and was searching for some “purple” infusion to the macaron shells. I personally think the philosophical part sounds much more creative… but truth is truth…
As lavender seemed to have been the best choice for shell infusion, the next step was to find a cream filling that would play well with it. Lavender is a little tricky to work with, as it has one of the strongest flavors you can get. Just a tiny drop over the top and you will be eating soap (well, not literally, but it will taste like it). On the other hand as it has such a distinctive taste, that the paring is to be chosen carefully as well, since lavender can easily overpower almost anything and then all the effort, to achieve some magical mix of flavors will be all for nothing. I am saying this or a reason… I haven’t mistyped the amount of vanilla needed for the mascarpone, it helps to bring out the taste of vanilla, otherwise it will be lost against lavender and honey.
Other than these little additions and experiments, these are just your every day, wonderful macarons, that I believe do not need further introduction.
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
35g granulated sugar
Purple powdered food colouring
205 g powdered sugar
100g almond flour (after sifting)
a pinch of lavender buds (a few grams)
Process: The day before: separate the egg yolks from the whites, place the egg whites in the airtight container (or cover with foil) and leave on the kitchen counter for 24 hours.
Before making the batter: heat the oven to 100°C, place the almond flour on the baking parchment and dry in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. This is very important, so don’t skip this step! Macarons are very sensitive to humidity, so sometimes it may need even more than 15 minutes. Then mix with the powdered sugar and the almond flour, sift again and set aside.
To powder the lavender buds, either use a grinding machine to pulse it with a few tablespoons of almond flour and sugar or press them through a fine sieve. They won’t be pure powder, but enough not to feel the texture and keep the macaron shells intact.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat them lightly until they start to foam. Add half of the granulated sugar and beat for a few minutes until well combined and soft peaks are showing, then add the second part of the granulated sugar, the food colouring and beat till you have a thick glossy mixture but don’t over beat it.
Add a 4-5 tablespoons of almond flour, powdered sugar and lavender mixture, with a few strokes to break down the meringue, then add the rest and mix gently with spatula until combined. Try to do this with about 10 strokes. Next, take a dough scraper and use it to mix until the right consistency, which is when the batter falling of the scraper and the formed “ribbons” are dissolving within a minute.
Pour the batter into the piping bag and pipe out rounds about 2 cm wide, then let them rest for 30 minutes to an hour for a skin to form. To check if the skin has formed, lightly tap on the macarons and if they no longer stick then they are ready (don’t forget to check the sides as well). For letting the macarons rest I usually increase the heat in the house and place them close to the heater just to be sure.
Bake the macarons in 160°C for about 15-18 minutes. Ovens tend to be different, hence the baking time can vary, it’s always good to take one (or two) shells and check;
Vanilla – honey mascarpone
250 g mascarpone cheese
4 vanilla beans
2 tablespoons honey
Process: Split the vanilla beans, scrape the seeds out and stir into the mascarpone together with honey. Mix well, then transfer to a pipping bag and pipe some of the cream onto macaron shell top with another and leave the macarons for at least 24 hours in the fridge. This will allow for the crunchy/chewy texture to develop and for the vanilla to infuse the mascarpone. An hour or so before serving take the macarons out of the fridge to bring to room temperature.