There is a sad fact about macarons- and I’m sure you’ve already figured it out. Sometimes these cute, delightful, little suckers just don’t come out right. You scratch your head and wonder, “What in the heck did I do wrong?” Well, you are not alone. Even though I have made thousands of them, Lord knows, I have a bad macaron day every now and then. As a result I’m constantly searching out new ideas and ways to master these little gems. I recently spent a good part of a day playing with different techniques and recipes and played around by adding in some dried egg white powder. I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome- they came out delightfully chewy and had the perfect texture. Now that I live in Arizona and the climate is dry I am playing around with different (French method technique) recipes as the humidity here is not as much a factor, although it is still monsoon season here so lately the humidity has been high. Adding in some dried egg white powder can help with humid weather conditions.
I highly recommend the book “Les Petit Macrons” which includes several recipe methods for macarons that includes great photos and trouble shooting tips as well. Plan ahead and make the lavender ganache the day before if you have time, as you will need the extra time to allow the lavender to steep to develop flavor.
recipe adapted from “Les Petits Macarons” by Kathryn Gordon & Anne McBride
165 g ( 1 1/4 C) almond flour
165 g (3/4 C) confectioners sugar
1 tsp dried culinary (food safe) lavender
115 g (1/2 C) egg whites (from about 4 egg whites)
150 g (3/4 C) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp (5 g) powdered egg white
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
purple gel food coloring
1. In a food processor bowl place the almond flour, confectioners sugar and dried lavender, and pulse about 4-5 times to combine. Sift through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl and set aside. Note; you can pick out any pieces of the lavender left in the strainer and add back into the almond four mixture. Prepare a sheet pan with either parchment paper or a Silpat. I prefer parchment. Note- try to pick very flat and not warped pans. If your pans appear a little warped sometimes lining with both Silpat on the bottom and then laying parchment paper on top can help.
2. In a stand mixer bowl place the powdered egg whites and granulated sugar and whisk with a hand whisk. Add in the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk again. Fit the mixer with whisk attachment and mix on medium speed for about 10-11 minutes until a stiff peak stage. Stop the mixer when the white are about 90 % mixed and add in the gel food coloring and continue to mix gently until desired color. Note: to test if whites are at the correct stage- you can turn the bowl upside down and check; if the meringue does not shift or slide in the bowl then they are perfect!
3. Using a spatula quickly add the whites to the almond flour mixture and fold until mixture falls off in sheets, when the spatula is lifted. To test a shell- place a small amount in a piping bag fitted with a round 1/2 inch circular tip and pipe out a round onto the parchment paper. If a peak forms but does not collapse after a minute or so, then the batter is too thick. Squeeze the batter back into the bowl (do not mix batter) but rather refill the piping bag and repipe the shells. Pipe about 1 inch size shells leaving an inch and a half in between each shell to allow for spreading. Lift the pan about 6 inches off the counter and let the pan slam onto the counter about 4 times to remove any trapped air bubbles. Set the pans on a flat surface and allow to sit for 30 minutes or until the top of the shells are no longer tacky when touched.
4. Preheat the oven to 300° F and bake for about 17-18 minutes turning pan hallway through front to back until shells appear firm at the foot if wiggled. Allow to cool completely over a wire rack. When cooled lift off carefully and pipe with ganache filling.
Lavender White Chocolate Ganache
1/2 Cup heavy cream
1 heaping tsp. dried (culinary) lavender
10 oz. good quality white chocolate (NOT white chocolate chips), chopped fine
Heat the heavy cream to just a boil and place in a small bowl with the lavender and let it steep for several hours (5-8 hours is ideal) stored in the refrigerator. Place the chopped chocolate in a food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade and pulse to chop the chocolate fine. Reheat the cream to a boil and strain out and discard the lavender. Add the hot cream to the chocolate in the food processor and allow to sit for one minute, then turn on the processor and mix until combined and smooth. Store in bowl in the refrigerator until firm. Once firm, stir vigorously until smooth and place in a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe filling between two macarons to sandwich.