Besides the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, summer has to be my favorite season. I love the high temperatures, long days of sunshine, warm nights and the aroma of herbs and flowers. Lavender, poppies, roses, peonies, amaranthus, and calla lily; I could go on and on because I am enthralled with the flowers that I can use in my baking.
This summer has gone by so quickly and I can’t believe it is already August. Between celebration, graduations, and weddings I had not realized that my daughter Sydney has been macaron deprived. She had been reminding for a few weeks we were “macaron-less” in our own home. Since vanilla is her favorite flavor, I thought adding lavender, wonder flower to use in cakes, marshmallows, and of course french macarons would be the epitome summer.
Macarons are a special french pastry for Sydney and I; we spent six month perfecting our own macaron recipe. We wanted to design a recipe that would be conducive for all climates. Living in the high altitude of the Colorado Rockies and the sensitivity to delicate pastry biscuit, we felt compelled that our recipe work for everyone where ever they lived. In order to proclaim, with integrity, our macaron recipe could deliver, we traveled to 92 percent humidity of Hawaii , the Caribbean, Sydney was able to test the master macaroon recipe in Illinois while visiting colleges, and we both were able to test the master macaron while we were in Paris.
I can say in all honesty that there were many recipes that although may have taste good, did not work well. Some never developed the crinkly, some hand “pimpleie tops,” and then there where the ones that look correct, but lack the meringue texture. Finally, one day in June, Sydney grabbed me to look as the feet forming, still I was skeptical and it was not until they completely cooled and we cracked a biscuit open that I knew we had finally developed the right chemistry..now we had to test the recipe outside Colorado.
Here’s how you can create your own lavender-vanilla macarons:
For the macaron shells:
- 66 grams/2.5 egg whites, divided in half, at least 1 day old separated
- 1 grams/a pinch egg white powder (optional and helpful)
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped for seeds keep skin
- 138 grams/ 1 1/8-cup icing sugar
- 117 grams/ 1 1/8-cup almond finely ground
- 11 grams/ 1-Tablespoons grams freeze dried dehydrated lavender flowers, pulsed into a powder
- 11grams/ 1- Tablespoon vanilla powder
- 36 grams/ 1/8-cup water
- 135 grams/1 1/8 cup sugar
- Vanilla bean, skins only
- 66 grams/ 2.5 egg white, about 2.5 eggs whites
- 1 grams/pinch egg white powder
- 7 grams/ 2-teaspoons superfine sugar
- 2 grams/ 1/8-teaspoon violet food colourant
- 1 Vanilla Bean
- Lavender essence, about 3 drop, or lavender syrup
Prepare your mise en place. Divide half the egg whites and set aside.
Place the almonds, powdered sugar, Lavender powder, vanilla powder, and food coloring in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
Sift the tant pour tant (almond flour, Lavender powder, vanilla powder, and icing sugar) and set a side.
In a small pot over low heat, combine sugar, vanilla skins, and water. Swirl the pot over the burner to dissolve the sugar completely. Do not stir. Increase the heat and boil to a softball stage (235 to 240 degrees F/ 113 to 116 degrees C). Use a candy thermometer for accuracy. Wash down the inside wall of the pot with a wet pastry brush. This will help prevent sugar crystals from forming around the sides, falling in and causing a chain reaction.
Meanwhile, prepare your meringue:
Take the bowl with your tant pour tant (almond mixture) and add the reserved half of egg whites.
Add a third of the meringue to the tant pour tant, give it a quick fold to break some of the air, keep folding till the almond mixture is mixed into the meringue, and then fold another third of the meringue into the batter, continue to vigorously fold till there are no white streaks. Now add the last third of meringue to the batter fold till thick, shiny and ribbons fall from the spatula. Fold the batter carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself and resembles shiny cake batter. There is no magic, I am not going to tell you that the batter should look like magma, I doubt you have ever seen it up close, I know I haven’t!
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto silicone mats lined baking sheets or parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Let the macarons sit out for about 1 hour to make sure the shells are hard. A well-made macaron features a crinkly “foot” on the bottom of each shell (look at the above diagram for a reference). Let the piped batter rest for 30 to 60 minutes, and then rap the sheets on a tabletop to help them set properly. And stack two baking sheets together, so the delicate cookies are sitting atop a double- or even triple-thick baking pan.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F/ 149 degrees C.
Right before placing the macaroons in the oven reduce the heat to 280 degrees F/ 138 degrees C.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.
Bake the macarons for 5 minutes, then quickly open the oven door, turn the pan, and close the oven. Bake them for another 5minutes and open and close the oven again. Continue to bake the macarons until the tops are rounded and firm and a craggy ridge, the foot, has formed around the base, about 5minutes (check the macarons after a couple minutes, as the baking time will vary by oven).
White chocolate whipped cream ganache assembly:
Line the biscuits on the cooling rack, match them as closely as possible, I prefer this step so each bottom fits perfectly with each top.
In the meantime prepare a piping bag with tip of choice; fill with the white chocolate ganache.
Begin with one macaron, layer the beautiful white ganache and than top with another macaron. Continue this processes till all macarons are filled sandwiches. Place the filled macarons sandwiches in an airtight container and allow the biscuits to macerate overnight for optimum taste.