Adventures with macarons

Well it’s almost a year to the day that I first attempted to make macarons, those pretty little things my then five year old had developed a fascination for along with all things Parisienne. You see them in the supermarket for ridiculous amounts of money in an array of amazing colours and think to yourself “surely they can’t be that hard to do?”

I was under the fire with a time frame to perfect these little tasty morsels with an upcoming Paris & American Girl Baking theme birthday party fast approaching. A swift search online for recipes gave me various options and thanks to The Bees Knees I found what seemed to be a good option.  Head over here for the recipe.

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I’m always drawn to pretty packaging and on a recent visit to Anthropologie I couldn’t resist this gorgeous little book presented in a beautiful pale green box, folded within lilac tissue paper is the softest moleskin book with gold edged leaves. Of course inside there are then all the stunning photos of decadent desserts that are calling out to be tried.

Our first attempt went quite well, maybe they looked a little more like meringues and a quite a few cracked but they tasted good. We’d experimented with colours, the gel type work best and whipped up a strawberry jam and butter filling. For an easy option we gave Nutella a try too. Like Brittany over at the Bees Knees I’ve tweaked the original recipe she used from Ladurée and experimented with new flavours, added cocoa powder and adjusted baking times.

We’ve progressed through five mammoth baking sessions and fine tuned a conveyor system of parchment paper cut to baking sheet size with colourful blobs of batter all setting whilst one batch at a time is baking for 10 minutes. My friend and I had a mission in mind to create lavender and honey macarons, now trying to find lavender in Canada in the midst of Winter may not be as straightforward as you might initially think. Had we thought to collect and dry lavender back in the Summer when we first talked of it then the mission would have been much easier to complete. I turned to Facebook for help and posted a question in a local Moms forum and instantly someone responded with the location of a florist actually about 5 minutes from home. Who knew it was there so close all along? So, now I have 50g of dried lavender in a cardboard Chinese takeout box when all I needed was a couple of teaspoons.

From what I’d read online adding lavender to anything can be a little dodgy, too much and it’s over powering so we erred on the side of caution. I whizzed up a couple of teaspoons of it in the food processor and added a small amount at a time. It had a strange smell, not as you’d expect but created a delicate flavour. A few drops of violet gel colouring and the perfect lavender colour followed. I like proper traditional butter cream, you know, made with actual butter and not Crisco,  so made a small batch of that and added some Makuna Honey to taste. Somehow by fluke we came up with a pretty tasty little flavour explosion.

Pictured above are combinations of Lavendar, Chocolate and plain shells with fillings of vanilla or honey buttercream and Nutella.

My tried and trusted buttercream recipe is from The Cookery Year by Readers Digest © 1973

Ingredients:

4 oz butter (at room temperature)
6-8 oz icing sugar
Vanilla extract (optional)
1-2 tablespoons milk

Beat the softened butter with an electric whisk until cream. Gradually mix in the sifted icing sugar a spoonful at a time along with a few drops of the flavouring and milk to form a smooth consistency. This will give you enough to typically cover a 7″ cake so adjust measurements according to your needs.

Share your own adventures in macarons with me on Instagram by using #colourfulnotionsmacarons. I’d love to hear what flavour combinations you’ve tried

 

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