This was the second treat I brought to a Breaking the Fast get together in NYC a few weeks ago. Using leaves from the Lemon Verbena plant growing on my terrace, I created a lemon verbena buttercream and paired it with a fall flavor macaron shell.
Espresso is one of my favorite macaron shell flavors, not only for the taste, but it seems whenever I use coffee, cocoa or espresso as an ingredient in the shells, they rarely have a problem growing feet in the oven. Probably my own imagination.
Lemon verbena is just wow. I am a fan of strong flavors and this packs a punch. Before it goes for the season, I will use it to infuse olive oil and simply syrup so I can enjoy the flavor long after the plant dies.
The combination of the espresso and lemon verbena, specifically is this mac was fantastic. The rich coffee flavor paired beautifully with the bright strong taste of the buttercream.
Note to self - grow a lot more of this next year.
Mini Espresso Macarons with Lemon Verbena Buttercream Filling
For the espresso shells:
Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements.
- 90 grams of egg whites - aged at least 2 days. Let them sit out on the counter uncovered.
- 25-50 grams of fine granulated sugar
- 200 grams of powdered sugar (minus 2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 110 Grams of almond flour*
- Pinch of cream of tarter
- Pinch of salt
*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.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.
- Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together or pulse them together briefly in a food processor. Make sure there are no large pieces.
- Remove and discard two tablespoons of the mixture and whisk in the 2 tablespoons of the espresso powder and set aside.
- Whip the egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly add the sugar. Continue whipping until you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing slides out. Add the pinches of salt and cream of tartar.
- Add the powdered sugar/almond/espressomixture to the egg white mixture and fold, using quick strokes at first then slow down. The batter should have a "flowing like lava" consistency. Make a peak of the batter and if it does not disappear after 5-7 seconds, keep folding. If it's running all over the place, you will probably have to start over.
- Place a pastry bag fitted with a round shaped tip in a tall water and and fold the edges down around the glass.
- Fill the pastry bag with the macaron batter, twist the open top to secure and pipe circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a Silpat.
- Let the macarons dry for about a half hour or until they harden.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place the macarons on the middle rack in the oven. I keep the oven door propped open with a dish towel or wooden spoon.
- I place another empty baking sheet on top to prevent the shells from becoming toasted and discolored.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- When checking them after 10 minutes or so, if the ones in the back of the sheet seem to be cooking faster that the ones in front, flip the tray around.
- To test to see if they are done, peel the baking paper or silpat back, if the shell comes off easily, they are done.
- If you do have a problem with the shells sticking to the surface when removed from the oven, lift up the baking paper and pour a bit of water underneath. this will steam them off the paper.
- Transfer to a baking rack and let cool completely before matching up the shells into pairs according to size and then fill.
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh lemon verbena
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1 stick butter at room temperature
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- Place the cream and lemon verbena in a heavy bottomed small saucepan and bring to a boil ovr low heat.
- Remove pan from heat, cover and set aside to infuse for at least 1/2 hour
- Place butter, 2 cups of the powdered sugar and the infused cream in a mixer and cream together.
- Add the rest of the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until combined. If the mixture is too liquid, add more powdered sugar.
- Add an additional tablespoon of chopped fresh lemon verbena if you like
- Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip and fill the shells with the buttercream.