LAVENDER HONEY MACARONS

Now that we are in full spring mode, celebration season is in full gear. It is wedding, baby shower and outdoor party season. As a lover of all things party planning, I have the one sweet treat that will be perfect for any of these celebrations. Macarons! No not macaroons but the French delicacy that has swooped us all off our feet. I am sure you have seen or tried macaron cookies before.

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Macarons have a reputation of being difficult, temperamental and just plain impossible for the home baker to make. I am here to tell you that this is not true. If anything it is a fun cookie to whip for all of your fancy occasions. With just a little bit of color coordination you have yourself a classy dessert for any dessert table setup.

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And of course the flavor combinations are just endless. I am excited about spring and upcoming Mother’s Day so I went with lavender, honey and pastel colors for these lavender honey macarons. Throw in lemons for a pretty yellow display or strawberries and raspberries for a pink décor; you get the gist.

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Okay let’s get into the making of macarons. You will need some key equipment for this, but you’ll likely already have most of it if you’re a home cook or baker. First you will need a small kitchen scale, as precision is the key to making a successful batch of macarons. Weigh out all your ingredients before you start.

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Next you will need a food processor to finely blend the powdered sugar, almond flour and lavender. I love using my KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series 16-Cup Food Processor for this as it always gives me the finest blend.

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Once you blend and sift those ingredients, you will then whip up egg whites into stiff peaks using your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer. This allows the macarons to rise as they bake to form ‘feet’ and gives them their puffy, cloudy texture.

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The technical part of all this is folding the dry ingredients into the whipped egg whites. You want to make sure you deflate the egg whites and incorporate the dry ingredients well without over-mixing the mixture. Once you have a ribbon-like consistency, you want to pipe the batter into equal 1.5-inch circles on a parchment-lined KitchenAid® Sheet Pan. I create a circle template to make things easier on myself.

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Remember that perfection is not the goal here. We just want delicious pillowy cookies that we can enjoy. So if they come out slightly misshaped, who cares! They will still be delicious and pretty.

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And just imagine how many different colors you can make of these guys. Setting up a dessert table for a baby or bridal shower just got easier with these homemade macarons.

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Lavender Honey Macarons

Makes 20 macarons

INGREDIENTS

For the macarons

120 grams almond meal/flour
200 grams confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon dried lavender
90 grams egg whites (~3 large egg whites), room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
50 grams granulated sugar

For the honey filling

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lavender essence (optional)

DIRECTIONS

For the macarons

Line two KitchenAid® Sheet Pans with parchment paper. I used a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to draw circles on the parchment paper and flip over the paper (drawing side down). Prepare a pastry bag with a round tip. I used Wilton 2A.

Using a KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series 16-Cup Food Processor, pulse the powdered sugar, almond flour and lavender into a fine powder. Sift several times until there is less than 1 tablespoon of almond bits left. Add these to the mixture.

In the bowl of your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Beat until egg whites are foaming. With the Stand Mixer on medium high, sprinkle in the sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.

Sift the dry ingredients over the meringue and fold with a rubber spatula. Gently fold to deflate the meringue by pressing against the side of bowl and scooping from bottom until batter is smooth and shiny; about 20-25 folds. To check consistency, drop a spoonful of batter and it should have a peak that quickly relaxes back into the batter in about 20 seconds. Start checking the batter after 20 folds.

Transfer batter into pastry bag and pipe into the pre-traced circles on the baking sheet. Tap baking sheet hard on counter to release any air bubbles trapped in the batter. Let shells sit on counter for 20-30 minutes to dry. Once a shell forms on the macarons, you are ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until shells are hard, rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking time. Cool completely on cookie sheets before peeling from the parchment.

For the honey filling

Whip the butter until light and creamy. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix on low until combined. Increase speed to medium and whip for additional 2-3 minutes.

Match equal size macarons up to make a sandwich. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large round or star tip, fill macarons with honey buttercream. Store macarons in refrigerator until ready to serve.

*Note: To make plain almond macarons, leave out the lavender in the shells and substitute milk for honey in the filling.

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