This little bottle of orchid liqueur was picked up in Assisi, Italy several years ago and has been sitting in the back of the liquor cabinet patiently waiting it's turn. Before leaving Germany, I was on a bit of a macaron making tear making several batches flavored with my stash of unusual liqueurs that soon would be left behind. I picked these to post for this month's Kick it Up! Mactweets challenge.
Assisi is a magical place. Unfortunately the travel pictures that would illustrate this post are back in Germany, but most people know of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. However, most don't know about St. Francis' homegirl, St. Clare who became the patron saint of TV.
TV, Animals and Italian food. Assisi is my kind of place.
One of the most interesting sites we visited was the tomb of St. Francis. It's in a beautiful medieval crypt and people from around the world visit to pray for their sick or dead animals. The energy collected there from all the devoted animal lovers is just spectacular.
We also visited the monastery where St. Clare supposedly had her visions. I heard somewhere her name is where the word "Clairvoyant" comes from. In the late 50's the then Pope decided that television would be an important medium in the future so he named St. Clare it's patron saint. I was actually visiting Assisi with a friend who is also famous TV psychic (and a big animal lover.) We both got a kick out of the whole clairvoyant thing.
Anywho, back to these macarons. Last December I bought a bag of organic lavender to bake with at a Christmas market in Hamburg.
I already used it for Lavender Kipferl and lavender Nutella swirl ice cream. Still, I had a ton leftover. Inspired by so many beautiful lavender macarons I have oogled in the past, I made some myself.
The orchid liqueur is syrupy in texture but light and delicate in flavor with a floral taste, but not soapy. I hate when floral things taste like soap. Pleasantly surprised, I immediately imagined it splashed into champagne or prosecco for a special occasion. Because of the subtle flavor, I added double the amount to the buttercream.
This macaron is divine. I thought the lavender might overpower the delicate orchid buttercream and was glad I refrained from adding lavender extract to the shell batter. Instead I pulsed the fine sugar with the dried lavender. I was a bit hesitant at first to add all 50 grams because the lavender sugar smell was so strong. It worked perfectly as the lavender flavor dissipated during the baking process leaving just a hint of the sharp flavor when when biting into the macaron. The orchid buttercream added a layer of mellow sweet flower taste. It is a winning combination.
Lavender Macarons with Orchid Buttercream
For the Lavender Shells:
I used the Tartelette's basic recipe (Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements) and adding extract and color.
- 90 grams egg whites - aged at least 2 days. Let them sit out on the counter uncovered.
- 50 grams of fine granulated sugar
- 200 grams of powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon organic dried lavender
- 110 Grams of almond flour*
- 1 or more dabs of paste or gel food coloring
*You can buy almond flour that has been ground with or without the skin. I use the later (blanched). The former looks really nice if you are not coloring the shells. You can also grind your own almond flour by putting whole or sliced almonds in a food processor or blender. If you do, make sure you throw a little of the powdered sugar in to prevent the almonds from forming a paste.
- In a Food Processor blend together the fine sugar and dried lavender.
- Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together or pulse them together briefly in a food processor. Make sure there are no large pieces and set aside.
- Whip the egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly add the lavender sugar mixture. Continue whipping until you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing slides out. (I also add a pinch each of salt and cream of tartar)
- Add the powdered sugar/almond mixture to the egg white mixture and fold, using quick strokes at first then slow down. No more than 50 strokes all together. The batter should have a "flowing like lava" consistency. Here is where I added a little purple gel food coloring to get the lavender color.
- Fill a Pastry bag and pipe circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a Silpat.
- Let the macarons dry for about one hour or until they harden.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
- Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- I keep the oven door propped open with a dish towel or wooden spoon. Try to refrain from obsessive peeping to see if they get feet.
- Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Remove them from the baking sheets and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Orchid Buttercream:
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 3-6 cups Powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup Orchid Liqueur
- ink gel food coloring
- Beat butter and 1 cup of the powdered sugar together. Alternate adding the liqueur and the rest of the powdered sugar until you reach buttercream consistency.
- Add food coloring and mix until color is uniform.
Assemble the Macarons:
- Match up the shell by sizes.
- Scrape buttercream into a pastry bag.
- Pipe the buttercream on one shell and sandwich with the other.