This past spring I attended a cooking class for my friend Katie’s birthday. A chef taught us how to prepare several dishes, including a lavender cake. I never heard of cooking or baking with lavender before, so I was intrigued. I asked the chef where to buy lavender, and she said that I could purchase it at Penzey’s. But, after I looked on their website and browsed through their store, I couldn’t find it. I was sorely disappointed.
During my next trip to Penzey’s, I asked an employee about the lavender. He had it hidden in behind the cashier’s counter so it was out of sight. Score! The lavender sat in my kitchen for a few weeks until I found another recipe to use it.
I went online and thought that I could make some lavender macarons and found this recipe from The Ginger Cook. Since I don’t own a kitchen scale, I altered the French macaron recipe I made last month and used that instead.
These macarons smell like a fresh spring day. The dried lavender really comes through and isn’t too strong. The chocolate honey ganache is a nice complement to the light and airy macaron, though I must admit that the honey flavor doesn’t come through too strongly. The next time I may add more honey to make the filling more aromatic.
Lavender macarons with chocolate honey ganache
- 1 cup (100 grams) almond flour (I used Trader Joe's almond meal and put it in the blender to chop it finer)
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender
- Purple/lavender gel food coloring
- 1 and 1/2 cups (210 grams) confectioners' sugar
- 4 (120 grams) egg whites room temperature and at least a day old (I used 1/2 cup of egg whites, which were at least 5 days old; they sat out at room temperature for at least 12 hours)
- 4 Tablespoons (50 grams) granulated sugar
Chocolate honey ganache
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate finely chopped (I used semisweet chocolate chips)
- A few squeezes of clover honey
Make the macarons
- Line a clean, flat cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper, and set it aside.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place rack in middle of oven.
- Grind almond meal/flour in the blender or food processor with the dried lavender and confectioner's sugar.
- Sift the almond meal mixture well and set aside. Make sure the mixture is well-sifted!
- In a spotlessly clean stand mixer bowl, whip the aged, room temperature egg whites on medium speed until they are foamy and you can start to see the tines of the whip leaving a trail in the whites, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon of sugar, and continue to whip for about 30 to 45 seconds. Add another tablespoon of sugar, and whip again for another 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat with the third and fourth tablespoons of sugar.
- When all of the sugar is mixed in, whip the whites for about another minute or two until they become glossy and shiny. Remove from mixer.
- Fold in about half of the almond flour/confectioners' sugar mix; when most of it is folded in, add the rest of the dry mix and the purple or lavender gel food coloring. Fold until mixture is smooth and a little stiff -- it should drop smoothly off of the spatula.
- Using a piping bag and a small round tip, pipe out small rounds of macaron batter about 1 inch in diameter. Try to pipe straight down and quickly pull away when you are done to minimize peaks. Pipe until you’ve used up all the batter.
- Rap the cookie sheet several times to flatten out the mounds and to pop any bubbles that might be in the batter.
- Let cookies rest for about 15 to 30 minutes, until they are no longer tacky to the touch.
- Place in oven, and immediately turn oven down to 300 degrees. After 8 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet. Depending upon your oven, cookies take from 15 to 20 minutes (mine took 15 minutes). Remove from oven, and let cool.
- Remove the meringues from the parchment and pair them by size.
Make the ganache
- Heat the cream in a small saucepan. Pour over chopped chocolate, let sit for one minute, add honey, then whisk until smooth. Place in refrigerator to cool, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even cooling. When are desired consistency for piping, fill pastry bag fitted with ¾ inch tip and pipe onto one of the macaron shells. Top with the other macaron shell and press down lightly.