This is becoming a very dangerous addiction… I just can’t stop making them. Then on the other hand, there can be worse addictions in life, than sweet little bites.
Before getting on with another batch of macarons, I spent a while brainstorming all by myself what I could put in them. Some deep thinking and staring around later the answer was there, just sitting on my shelf. Lemon verbena.
I know, I know, I may have been abusing lemon verbena lately (by adding it to practically everything), but there is something so wonderfully fresh and satisfying about the taste it brings that it’s easy to lose self control, and go crazy with lemon verbena scented dishes.
So, what do you get by adding some lemon verbena to the white chocolate ganache? First, a very happy person. Second, a filling that is surprisingly refreshing while keeping the nice sweetness of the chocolate at the same time. Almoust too good to be true, which is why it is on the very top of my favourite list (for now…).
I’ve also experimented a bit by adding some lemon zest to the macaron batter. Though the shape and texture of the macarons remained the same (which is good), unfortunately so did the taste… I was expecting at least a tiny hint of lemon in the macaron shells, which would have went well with the lemon verbena filling, but it just didn’t happen. My guess would be that I just added too little of zest for the lemon taste to really shine through. Next time, I’ll go with the full lemon zest or maybe even two…
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
35g granulated sugar
blue powdered food colouring (till you have the colour you want)
1/2 lemon zest (optional, or you should add much more than this)
205 g powdered sugar
100g almond flour (after sifting)
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.
You can zest the lemon the day before and let it dry on the counter over night, or just dry it for a couple of hours in the oven heated to 80°C, just be sure that they are completely dry as macarons tend to be very sensitive to any additional humidity.
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 especially important if your house tends to be a bit humid, sometimes it may need even more than 15 minutes. Then mix with the powdered sugar and the almond flour and lemon zest, sift again set aside.
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, soft peaks, 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 and powdered sugar mixture, mix 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;
Lemon verbena white chocolate ganache
a handful of lemon verbena (10-12 leaves)
150g white chocolate
Add the lemon verbena to the cream, bring to boil, then leave covered to infuse for 10 minutes. When ready bring the cream to boil again pour through the sieve on top of the chocolate (roughly chopped) and use a hand blender to blend until homogeneous. Add the cold butter and blend again. In case you do not own a hand blender, well, you may consider getting one, or you will have to grate the chocolate or chop it very finely and whisk it into the cream, which is a bit more labour intensive. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or so .
Pick the macaron shells that look pretty much the same, pipe some of the ganache on top of one and top with the other. Then (a very important step) place them in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 24 hours, some say 48 work best. Enjoy!
Tip: One thing I noticed using food colouring is that when you bake the macaroons, the colour tends to become a bit more pale, so sometimes it is worth adding just some extra.