baking with lavender always makes me feel a little weird. it has a lovely taste, but using even a quarter teaspoon too much can quickly make a flavor go from ‘delicately floral’ to ‘hotel soap.’ in this recipe, finely ground lavender buds add character to the simple, meringue-based macaron cookie, and any soapiness is offset by a filling of assertive cream cheese frosting and bright peach jam.
these cookies were inspired by jessica tom’s food whore! in the book, the main character works as a secret assistant to the new york times’ food critic. their cover is blown while dining at a super nice restaurant called tellicherry, and the waiter brings them plates upon plates of desserts to try to leave a good impression: curry ice cream with mini brioche puffs, cinnamon apple churros with maple syrup tapioca, chocolate fondant sandwiched in coconut crisps, and lavender peach macarons! it was one of the more mouthwatering chapters.
read food whore and make these (4 star) macarons! here’s jessica’s ‘book club bites’ post about them!
macarons (adapted from entertaining with beth)
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 50 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- purple (or red and blue) gel food coloring
- 120 g (1 cup) almond flour
- 200 g (2 cups) powdered sugar
- 2 tsp dried lavender buds
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp heavy cream or milk
- peach jam
line two baking sheets with parchment paper. beat the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until frothy, about a minute. add the sugar, cream of tartar, and salt, and turn the mixer to high speed. whip for 8-10 minutes, or until very stiff peaks have formed (think seattle space needle). add the food coloring, making the color a little darker than desired (it will fade as the macarons bake).
combine the almond flour, powdered sugar, and dried lavender in a food processor. pulse until the lavender turns to powder, then sift the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl. discard the larger almond pieces that remain in the sieve.
gradually fold the flour mixture into the egg whites with a spatula. be careful!! undermix and the macarons will be lumpy and cracked, overmix and they’ll be flat and won’t have feet. about 60-75 turns of the spatula when folding is the right amount of time. the batter should be thick but runny.
transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. the easiest way to fill the bag with batter is to 1) twist the end of the pastry bag nearest to the tip (this prevents batter from leaking out before you’re ready), 2) place the bag in a large drinking glass and fold it around the rim, then 3) pour the batter in. pipe one-inch rounds onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, then rap the sheets on the counter to pop any air bubbles. let the macarons sit, untouched, for 30-45 minutes. this allows them to develop a skin; when they dry out, they’re forced to rise up and not spread out, giving them the trademark macaron “feet.” they should be tacky to the touch, but not stick to your fingers. during the last 10 minutes of letting them sit, preheat the oven to 300º.
bake for 20 minutes. don’t open the oven door while they’re baking. remove and let cool on pans for 20 minutes, then remove to a rack.
for the filling, beat together the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. after a few minutes, add the powdered sugar, then the vanilla and salt. beat for 5 more minutes. add the cream and beat for one more minute. transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip.
to assemble, pipe a circle of frosting around the edge of half of the macarons. fill the hole with peach jam, then sandwich another macaron on top. makes 30 sandwich cookies.