Finally the evening frost is gone and I've been able to see what's returning in the gardens and what I have to replace. My experience has been not all annuals are guaranteed to come back.
So I've been buying and been buying and seeding and organizing herbs for this years garden. I never thought I would say this but it makes me so happy to grow things, especially herbs and tomatoes. If four years ago someone had said that I would enjoy creating gardens as much as I do. I would have laughed in their face.
Because of my newfound enthusiasm, last season I overdid it infusing sugar with fresh herbs. I actually overdid it growing herbs in general but I got so much pleasure out of creating sugars, syrups, salts, vinegars and oils as well as giving fresh bunches away to friends and colleagues. Even with all that, I managed to use up a significant amount but still so much left.
Warning: Once you start infusing sugar (and salt) with herbs, vanilla beans, citrus zest, etc. It's hard to go back to using the plain version.
For these French macarons, instead of adding white granulated sugar in the shells, I used the rosemary infused version. The sugar gives the shells a hint of the herb. It's not overpowering. I mixed in some chopped fresh rosemary into a simple buttercream frosting for the filling but it needed some extra oomph. the rum did just that. I love this flavor. It's flagged to make again. I also think these make a lovely gift along with a small jar of homemade infused rosemary sugar.
Rosemary Rum French Macarons
For the Rosemary French macrons 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 rosemary infused/flavored sugar (recipe below)
- 200 grams of powdered sugar
- 110 Grams of almond flour*
- Pinch of cream of tarter
- Pinch of salt
- Optional: A dab of green food color.
- 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.
- Whip the egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly add the rosemary 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 mixture 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. If adding food coloring, fold it in. 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.
For the Rosemary Rum Buttercream:
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon white rum
- 1 stick butter at room temperature
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- Place butter, 2 cups of the powdered sugar, milk,rum 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.
- Mix in the chopped rosemary.
- Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip and fill the shells with the buttercream.
For the Homemade Rosemary Sugar :
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh rosemary washed and dried throughly.
- In a jar alternately layer the sugar and thyme until the jar is full.
- Tightly seal with lid and store in a cool dark place. The sugar should be ready to use in 3 days.
- After the sugar has been infused, you can sift out the rosemary pieces if desired.