Monday, April 20, 2015

White Chocolate Lavender French Macarons




Ever since I had my first macaron at Bottega Louie in downtown LA last year - a perfect, powder blue Earl Grey macaron with gold dust on top - I knew I was in love. It was sweet and had a crunchy outside, while soft on the inside, and simply delicious. Macarons are the perfect treat for an afternoon fika, when you just want something little, but sweet, to go with your hot cup of coffee.

This past Saturday, I decided to try making macarons for the first time. I had read countless recipes and directions for making French macarons, so I was well aware of the fact that it would be a challenge. I found one recipe that offers two important things: a) the recipe uses weight rather than volume to make it more precise, and b) it has a useful trouble shooting video and lists the common errors when baking macarons. Still, it took me three batches and staying up till two in the morning, to succeed. Here's what I learned.




Drawing circles using a compass on a non-stick parchment paper will help make the macarons the same size. Make sure to leave some space between them so that they don't bake into each other.

- Sift the sugar and almond flour. This will get rid of any lumps and help you get a smooth batter.

- It's all about how you stir the batter. I knew I had to be careful when folding the batter, but what I also learned was that it's easy to over-mix. The first batch of rose water macarons with a buttercream filling, were over-mixed and turned out flat. With the second batch I was overly cautious and mixed the batter until the dry ingredients had just been incorporated. These guys turned out under-mixed, chubby and lumpy. The correct way is to carefully fold the batter along the sides, until it's slowly running off the spoon like a ribbon. These white chocolate lavender macarons turned out perfect. You know what they say - third time's the charm!

- It's important to tap the baking sheet hard on the counter to get rid off all of the air bubbles in the batter. This will also help the macarons not to crack.

- Leave the piped macarons on the counter for about 20 minutes to form a little dry shell, before putting them in the oven. This will help them keep their shape.

- Make lots of them, because they'll be gone in no time.




The wonderful thing about macarons is that you can make any filling you like, the basic recipe is always the same. I made a rose water buttercream and a white chocolate lavender ganache. Even though the rose water macarons didn't have the right consistency, I still loved the delicate rose flavor. Another great thing is that they freeze well, so you can always make them in advance if you're having a party. 

Bon appétit!






French Macarons
from HowToCookThat

4 large egg whites (or 5 small) 140g (4.94 ounces)
1/3 cup or 70g (2.47 ounces) caster sugar [*US cups 1/3 cup plus 1 tsp.]
1 1/2 cups or 230g (8.11 ounces) pure icing sugar [US cups 1 1/2 cups plus 4 tsp.] 

1 cup or 120g (4.23 ounces) almond meal [US cups 1 cup plus 3 teaspoons]
2g (0.07 ounces) salt (tiny pinch)
gel food coloring (optional)




Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F (150 grader)
  2. Place egg whites and cater sugar in a bowl and mix with electric mixer until stiff enough to turn the bowl upside down without it falling out, continue to whip for 1-2 more minutes. How long this takes will depend on you mixer. Add gel or powdered food coloring and continue to mix for a further 20 seconds.
  3. Sift the almond meal and icing sugar and salt twice, discarding any almond lumps that are too big to pass through the sieve.
  4. Fold into the egg white mixture. It should take roughly 30-50 folds using a rubber spatula. The mixture should be smooth and a very viscous, not runny. Over-mix and your macarons will be flat and have no foot, under mix and they will not be smooth on top.
  5. Pipe onto trays lined with baking paper, rap trays on the bench firmly (this prevents cracking) and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Check if one comes off the tray fairly cleanly, if not bake for a little longer (make sure you are using NON-stick baking paper or they will stick).



Rose water buttercream
altered recipe from addapinch

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 - 2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp rose water
pinch salt
1-2 tbsp heavy cream


Instructions:
  1. Place softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on a medium setting and cream the butter until it is smooth and has lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add confectioner's sugar, ½ a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
  3. Add rose water and a pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
  4. Add heavy cream until the frosting has reached the preferred consistency. For a firmer frosting, add more confectioner's sugar.



Lavender White Chocolate Ganache
altered recipe from butter sweet symphony

1/2 cup white chocolate
1/3 cup cream
2 teaspoons dried edible lavender



Instructions:
  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the cream gently with the dried lavender.
  3. Pour the lavender-infused through a strainer over the chopped chocolate. Mix until it forms a smooth consistency.
  4. Pour the mixture into a piping bag and let chill until the ganache is at the correct consistency to be piped.


French Macarons

4-5 stora äggvitor 140g
70g fint socker
230g florsocker

120g mandelmjöl
2g salt (en nypa)
Hushållsfärg i gelform




Rosenvattensmörkräm

55 g smör, rumstemp
2,5 - 3,5 dl florsocker
1 tsk rosenvatten
nypa salt
1-2 msk grädde



Lavendel- och vit chokladganache

1,2 dl vit choklad
0,8 dl grädde
2 tsk torkad lavendel

13 comments:

  1. What is the difference between caster sugar, icing sugar and confectioners (powdered) sugar for us ignorant Americans?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat, I didn't know what caster sugar was until I tried this recipe, but I learned that it is a finer type of sugar than the regular granulated one. Using caster sugar makes sure that it gets incorporated into the batter more easily and breaks down faster in the heat. Icing sugar and confectioners sugar is the same thing, just different names.

      Delete
  2. Another two questions: could you use lavender oil in the ganache? Also, how do you compensate for humidity? I tried making macarons last summer and the humidity turned them into a sticky mush.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is my first time making macarons, so I am definitely not an expert. I think the main issue is that to succeed with macarons, they need to be able to dry and form a hard shell during the resting period, and humidity will make this very hard. I have tried to find some trouble shooting on this, but all they say is basically "don't make them on a humid day!". Maybe stupid question, but are there any time of the year when it's less humid, like winter? Sorry I couldn't be more helpful!

      Delete
    2. Also, I'm sure you would be able to substitute the dried lavender with culinary graded lavender oil!

      Delete
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