Lemon Lavender French Macarons put together all the best things about spring. They are fresh and bright, with a pop of fresh citrus and a kiss of floral loveliness. They are also deliciously gluten free and darned cute, too. I think you should make these, like, yesterday. You’re home on quarantine. Little smiling spring cookies will cheer you up– trust me.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Lemon Lavender French Macarons
100 g. egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
50 g. white sugar
200 g. powdered sugar
110 g. almond flour
Lavender Ganache Filling:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. edible lavender buds
1/2 cup white chocolate
Whip room temperature egg whites, cream of tartar, and white sugar with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer until the whites reach stiff peak stage. Meanwhile, pulse your almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor until the mixture is well combined. Sift your almond flour/powdered sugar mixture through a sieve and throw away the pieces that are too large to pass through the sieve. When the whites have whipped into stiff peaks, fold the almond/sugar mixture into the whites gradually and carefully until they reach proper “macaronage.” Place 2-3 drops of gel food coloring into the batter and swirl gently before carefully pouring into a piping bag. Pipe meringue circles onto a silpat using a template, if desired, and slam the cookie sheets several times on the counter to dislodge air bubbles. Allow circles to dry for 20 minutes before baking at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, one sheet at a time, in the center of the oven (move oven racks, if necessary). Do not open the oven until the 20 minutes are up, and use an oven thermometer for best results. When your macarons are done they should feel “firm on their feet.” If the macaron shells are soft or crack when gently touched, bake for 2 more minutes and test again until they are firm on their feet. After baking, remove entire silpat to cooling rack and allow shells to cool, completely, before removing them from the silpat.
To make ganache filling, mix cream and lavender buds together in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the cream for roughly 20 seconds, just until it is pleasantly warm. Allow the lavender to steep in the cream for 10 minutes and then strain the lavender buds out and discard them. Add the white chocolate to the lavender infused cream. Heat in 20 second increments just until the chocolate melts (do not let mixture get too hot– 2 “heats” should be close to enough). Allow warm ganache to chill in the refrigerator until it reaches the consistency of cake icing. Whip chilled ganache with the whisk attachment of your mixer until the ganache is fluffy and a consistency that can be piped easily. Fill cooled shells with circles of whipped ganache and top with a small dollop of lemon curd. Cover finished macarons with plastic wrap and allow them to to chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours until you are ready to serve them.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
There is something so sunny and happy about lemons. Even on the worst day, smelling lemon makes me smile. And when you make desserts that have this sunny little fruit in them you’re guaranteed to have a better day. I promise. 😉
We have made macaron shells before, so I’m not going to spend a ton of time describing the process here. If you’re new to macaron making, check out my more detailed tutorial here.
I am making my own lemon curd, but you can of course use purchased lemon curd if you prefer. I’m going to start out by using a microplane to zest this sahhhhweeeeet little lemon peel. Microplanes are better than a regular grater because they get just the yellow lemon zest and leave the white pith behind. Mmmmm. And it smells amazing while you are zesting!
I start out by mixing my lemon zest/juice, sugar, and egg yolks in a bowl. I am making only a small recipe since I only need a squidge for these macarons. But of course you can make the whole recipe if you want– extra lemon curd is never a bad thing. 🙂
Whisk your lemon mixture constantly while you drizzle in melted butter. See? You’re just like a doctor. Add butter and suddenly all better. You’re a genius. I love working with you.
Use a spatula to pour your “buttery lemon” mixture back into a little saucepan. Heat and whisk this lovely golden condiment until it thickens a little bit.
How thick, you say? Mmmm. How about as thick as the person who cut you off in traffic today? As thick as your desire to get out of the house? As thick as the person who wasted toilet paper to throw a bug away?
Yes. As thick as all of that and more. See? You get it. You’re a natural at this. I had a good feeling about you from the start.
Basically, you want your mixture to be thick enough to coat the back of your spoon. You should taste that little blob just to make sure it’s ok. You know. In the name of science.
Now let’s talk about lavender. Lavender in baked goods is kind of like kisses from your ancient great aunt Marjorie who wears the sticky hot pink lipstick. A little goes a long way. A squidge of lavender is good. Too much will make you feel like you just took a bite of potpourri. Stay away from Aunt Marjorie and go easy on the lavender. Trust me.
Start out by taking your heavy cream and putting 1 tsp. of edible lavender buds into the cream. Heat your mixture for 15-20 seconds in the microwave– just until it is nice and warm but not hot. Let the lavender soak in this creamy hot tub for 10 minutes. This will give the finished ganache just a hint of lavender without being overpowering.
Ahhhhh nice hot tub. Don’t get too comfortable in there, Lavender. You only get 10 minutes. *Jeopardy music plays ominously in the background*
Now that our lemon curd is nice and thick (and our lavender is happily tubbing in the cream), I wanted to mention something before I forget. When your lemon curd is thickened, take it off the heat and put it into the refrigerator to cool. But make sure you put a piece of plastic wrap right down on top of it so that it won’t form a skin as it cools.
So plastic wrap on lemon curd, headed to the fridge to chill out. Done.
Ahhhh, Aunt Marjorie . . . I mean, Lavender. Your hot tub time is done! Out you go! No potpourri tasting desserts for us. Strain your lavender buds out of the cream with a fine mesh strainer and throw the lavender away. The only lavender taste that is left is a little whiff of floral that will play beautifully with that lemon curd you just made. You’re so smart. I love working with you.
Take your “floralized” cream and add in your white chocolate. Heat this mixture in the microwave for about 20 seconds and stir. You just want to make this mixture warm enough that you can melt the chocolate– it shouldn’t be hot. Usually if you just keep stirring the chocolate will slowly melt into the cream. It shouldn’t take more than 30-40 seconds, total. Then put this finished ganache into the refrigerator just until it firms up enough to be about the consistency of cake icing. That’s why you don’t want your ganache to be super hot– it takes longer to cool down, afterward (which means it takes longer for us to eat cookies. I knew you’d see the logic). Just melt your chocolate and let it chill in the fridge with the lemon curd and the Netflix. I mean, uh, with the lemon curd.
After you have a thicker consistency, whip the ganache with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer until it becomes lighter in color and thick enough that you can pipe it. No, not like, Pied Piper of Hamelin pipe. Not like, reading books and smoking a pipe by the fire, pipe.
Piping tip pipe. 🙂 I build up the edges slightly so that I have a nice little nest to put my lemon curd in.
A little nest to hold lemon curd? I mean, how adorable is that. Gently twist your top shell onto your loaded, adorable-lemon-nest-holding bottom shell. Don’t squeeze “zeeeee macaron” because your ganache isn’t hardened yet. Friends don’t let friends ooze. It’s not pretty.
No– instead, place your finished macarons onto a tray and cover them with plastic wrap. Put them in the fridge, along with the lemon curd and some Tiger King on Netflix. Hey. Everyone needs a little R&R.
When they are in the fridge the ganache will harden slightly, which will allow you to place them on their sides for adorable photos without all the good stuff leaking out. If they leaked then we would need tiny little macaron diapers, and that’s just silly. *snicker*
A question I am asked often about macarons is . . . “What flavor should I make the shells?” Interestingly, macaron shells are not flavored at all (well, unless you count the almond flavor they get from the almond flour). They derive all their cool and strange flavors (yuzu curd, anyone?) from the fillings. And how do they do this, you might ask?
(Have you asked?) Good. Then I will answer.
When the filled macarons sit in the refrigerator (for at least 24 hours– yes, even in Paris), an amazing thing happens. The crispy almond shells and the moist, often fruit-based fillings decide to run to Vegas and get married. Or something like that.
Yes, the two become ONE. They sign on the dotted line. They put a ring on it. They meld together and become one perfect, almost nougat-like bite.
And you should take a bite. You really should. They are delicious– just a hint of lavender and a boom chicka bow WOW bite of fresh lemon, all wrapped up in a sweet, beautiful shell sandwich dressed in pretty spring colors. Just perfect.
You needed a fresh, springy dessert during this endless house arrest. And you know what?
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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