You’ve arrived with a storm, taking us all in your wintery grasp and covering us in a deep fluffy white blanket. Each year you force yourself earlier upon us. Arriving like a silent ghost, you bring a shuddery chill throughout the region. The bare snow-topped trees sparkle as if lined with diamonds and morning rays of sunlight dance through the mist of a bleak and gray sky.
The cold, biting wind blowing short gusts of cottony snowflakes, which swirl ecstatically through the brisk morning air create a breathtaking picture of a winter wonderland.
Inside the warmth, a stark contrast to the stinging cold, provides a comforting and fuzzy feeling of security. The flames of the candles reach up into the room, dancing as if in a trance and painting the walls with dark shadows.
Snuggled under a thick quilt, we read, we laugh, we cuddle, twirling bits of the textile with our bare toes. Our cheeks still tingle from the cold, glowing a warm red. We’ve stripped down to our long cotton underpants, the wet snowsuits lying out to dry on the floor. The sledge is parked haphazardly outside the door, leaving a telltale trail in the snow.
I love watching him laugh with his dark, deep brown eyes. Cheekily he winks at me and tries to cajole me into staying up late. Not tonight, it’s a busy night! We’re going to be welcoming December, I tell him. He knows and gets excited.
You are a sweet month. You bring treats to young and old, lighting up their faces with a warming smile. We wait impatiently for you to come around each year. You fill the air with a perfume of roasting chestnuts on a crackling hot fire, of spiced mulled wine and sticky candied almonds. The glittering fairy lights glimmer like jewels against a dark velvet sky. The music of carolers make us smile as we wait eagerly to sit around a feasting table surrounded by family and friends. The crisp, colored paper and ribbon leaving a telltale sign across the wooden floor.
Sweet December always comes around far too quickly, doesn’t it? It sends us in a panic as we scuttle around to grasp the year forgone one last time.
Give in to it because December is a sweet month. Indulge in all the sweet treats it provides, like these delicate macarons. Flavored with a flowery note of lavender, I paired them with an explosive zing of ruby red grapefruit and a dry rosé prosecco curd.
Lavender Macarons with Ruby Red Grapefruit Prosecco Curd
Printable version of recipe here
For the macaron shells
110g icing sugar
60g almonds, very finely ground
60g egg whites, (about 2 eggs) aged for either 5 days in the fridge, then for 24 hours at room temperature or a little over 24 hours on the countertop
40g granulated sugar
Pinch of organic lavender buds
Purple food coloring
For the filling
200 ml grapefruit juice – I used Ruby Red grapefruits
Zest of 1 grapefruit, grated
100g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
200g fine granulated sugar
For the macaron shells
- Prepare your baking tray and baking sheets with a stencil of circles. Draw circles on some baking paper using a (mathematical) compass about 2 cm in diameter. Then place some white parchment paper on the baking tray and flip the baking paper back around. Or use this macaron template.
- In a large mixing bowl mix the egg whites with an electric hand beater (alternatively you can use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until it is thick and frothy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, whisking all the while, until the mixture turns into a thick glossy meringue. The consistency of the macaron batter should be similar to hair mousse or shaving foam. Make sure the meringue is not over-beaten or else it will be too dry.
- In a food processor pulse together icing sugar, almonds and lavender buds until everything is finely ground and powdery. Sift the mixture 2 or 3 times to make sure there are no lumps.
- Place the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the meringue in three portions, giving it a quick fold using the macronnage technique described in my macaron tips section. Fold the mixture a few times to break the air. Add some of the purple food coloring till you get the shade of purple you like best. Continue folding until you get a smooth and supple mixture, thick in consistency so that when you lift the spatula it flows back in thick ribbons. Test a small amount on a plate – should the tops fall back and flatten by themselves then it is ready, if not give it a few more folds.
- Fill a piping bag with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (2 cm in diameter) on your prepared baking paper. Leave the macarons to rest and dry for about 15 to 30 minutes.
- In the meantime preheat the the oven to 150 degrees C. When the macarons are ready bake the shells for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use a flat offset spatula to gently remove the shells from the baking paper and allow to cool further on a rack
For the filling
- Put the grapefruit zest and juice, prosecco, sugar and butter into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the basin doesn't touch the water. Stir with a whisk occasionally until the butter has melted.
- Mix the eggs and egg yolk lightly with a fork, then stir into the grapefruit-prosecco mixture.
- Allow the curd to cook, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, until the consistency is thick and custard-like. It should feel heavy on the whisk.
- Remove from the heat and stir occasionally as it cools. Pour into warm sterile jars, cover and seal. Allow to come to room temperature, then refrigerate. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator
Notes: You will find that many fruit curd recipes ask you to stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. However, stirring lightly with a whisk introduces just a little more lightness into the curd, which makes it slightly less solid and more wobbly. For a macaron filling this is the perfect consistency.
Assembling the macarons
Using two spoons place a small dollop of the the grapefruit prosecco curd filling on one of the shells and gently cover with another shell. Do not press. Continue to do this until you have used up all of the filling and shells.
If you are not going to be using them right away you can store the shells in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
They freeze well too but it is recommended to freeze them unfilled. To fill them take the shells out of the freezer 48 hours prior to serving and without defrosting fill them. This way the flavors will be allowed to blend as they thaw.
Notes: As the curd filling is fairly moist my advice would be to fill these about 30 minutes before you serve or want to indulge into them. Otherwise you will find that the shells will get too soggy.
I am always careful when flavoring with lavender. If not it easily reminds one of grandma’s old perfumed pillow. There was just a slight, subdued hint of the flowery lavender, not overpowering but sublimely delicate. Paired with a wonderful sweet and tart grapefruit prosecco curd it added an incredibly elegant essence to the entire pastry.
The macarons were made for a flavor developing project I recently worked on for some Clients in Munich. I presented them to a panel of 15 people each one an expert in their own field. Yes I was nervous! However, my jaw dropped on the floor when the chef of a Michelin 3 star restaurant (also on the panel) came to me that evening and asked me how I managed to perfect the texture and what inspired me for the flavors. I think I was flying high for the rest of the evening. The macarons went down well as did my presentation and I look forward to working on more such projects in the future, creating more exciting macaron flavors.
Discover and indulge in your chocolate sweet tooth and create a sinfully extravagant chocolate treat.
The deadline for this Chocolate Extravaganza is 27 December. Visit Ria’s post to learn how you can be a part of the mingle this month.
More Macarons on WFLH:
|Rooibos Chocolate Chai and Sweet Spicy Chocolate Cinnamon Macarons||Campari Orange and Grapefruit Macarons||Matcha Macarons with Passionfruit Curd|
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