Matcha Green Tea Macarons

I love green tea, and I love macarons. It was a no-brainer putting the two together.

green tea macarons

Generally, I prefer flavors that help cut the inherent sweetness in macarons. I like dark chocolate because of its slight bitterness and lemon because of its acidity. Green tea, like dark chocolate or coffee, provides that slight bitterness that cuts through the sweetness. I used a white chocolate ganache base, with an adzuki bean (otherwise just known as red beans) center filling. If you head over to some asian bakeries or grocery stores, you’ll often find that green tea and red beans are often paired with each other. That’s because they’re a match made in heaven. I tested this out with the macarons, and the concept absolutely holds true.

green tea macarons

The ratios for the filling for this macaron is quite flexible and up to you. If you prefer a light green tea flavor, add less matcha powder into the ganache. If you dislike red beans, feel free to omit them. The amount also depends on you. If you make just one batch, you won’t really need a lot and if you make your own red beans, you’ll most likely have a bit left over. There are plenty of other delicious ways to eat them. But if you want to save time and don’t want to deal with the leftovers, you can find them in stores.

green tea macarons with red bean

Matcha Green Tea Macarons

50 g sifted almond meal

50 g sifted powdered sugar

40 g egg whites (around 1 egg), room temperature

40 g granulated sugar

5 g matcha green tea powder, sifted (+ a little extra to sprinkle on top)

preheat oven to 325 F

1/ Sift the almond meal, powdered sugar, and green tea powder together into a medium sized bowl

2/ With a Kitchenaid mixer or a handheld mixer, start beating the egg whites with the whisk attachment. Once large bubbles start to form, slowly pour in the granulated sugar

3/ Beat the egg white until their glossy with medium peaks

4/ Using a spatula, fold 1/3 of the meringue into the almond mixture. Continue 1/3 at a time until it’s all mixed in.

5/ Gently folding the macaronage, continue until the mixture forms ribbons and takes around 20 seconds for the ribbons to sink back into the mixture. Click here for a detailed description on how to make macaron shells. 

6/ Pipe the macarons onto a parchment/silpat lined baking sheet. (My temperature here varies from my original recipe, due to the fact that I moved and now my new oven is hotter than my old one. You can make adjustments according to your own oven.)

7/  Let the macarons rest until a skin forms on top. If you want, sprinkle some extra matcha powder on top. Slip an empty pan into the oven a rack below the macarons for a double pan, and bake the macarons for 4-5 minutes (or until the feet just begin to form). Turn the pan around, turn the temperature down to 300 F, and bake for another 8-10 minutes. The macarons will be done once the macarons no longer move when gently nudged. It’s safer to be on the well done side, as once you add the filling, the texture will correct itself.

green tea macarons with red bean

Filling

50 g white chocolate (preferably valrhona)

50 g heavy cream

1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder (this amount is up to you)

1/4 cup adzuki beans/red beans

water

sugar to taste

1/ Pour the beans into a small pot, and add enough water so that it just covers the beans. If the water gets cooked off later, you can add more. Bring the water to a boil, and then keep on cooking it at medium heat. Cook until the beans are tender. They should be a little mashed up but still somewhat hold their shape. Add however much sugar you see fit (I’ve never measured how much I added). Let the water cook off (if the mixture is too wet, it’ll soak the macaron shell) and let it cool.

2/ Melt the white chocolate over a double broiler.

3/ Heat the heavy cream until it’s almost boiling. Pour a little into the green tea, and mix until it forms a paste. Stir in the rest of the heavy cream

4/ Add the heavy cream to the white chocolate and stir. Let it cool until the ganache thickens up to a pipable thickness

5/ Pipe the white chocolate in a circle on one macaron shell leaving the center empty (if you’re using the red beans). Add the other shell, and you’re done!

Straight out of Provence: Lavender Macarons

When I think of Provence, the delicate scent of lavender immediately comes to mind. Quaint villages seem to sprout from the fields of purple that dominate this beautiful region of southern France. While I was there in late June, I was hoping to catch the lavenders in full bloom. Unfortunately, it was a colder and wetter year this year, and in many place we expected to see purple, we found green instead. It smelled fragrant already, but it wasn’t the shocking sea of purple that I expected to see.

Lavender at l'Abbaye de Senanque

Lavender at l’Abbaye de Senanque

However, never lose hope! While the typical places like Valensole, Sault etc. weren’t in full bloom yet, keep your eyes pealed when driving across the region. As we crisscrossed Provence, visiting the various markets and villages, we’d randomly come across huge chunks of purple over the hill from somewhere that is still mostly green. For example, the lavender field in front of L’Abbaye de Senanque had only a hint of purple, but behind St. Paul de Mausolee (a monastery where Van Gogh stayed for a year and produced many works of art), the lavender field was in full bloom and it was absolutely gorgeous.

Saint Paul de Mausole monastery

Saint Paul de Mausole monastery

While I’m sure Provence is beautiful all year round, I can’t even imagine going any other time in the year. I can’t even fathom Provence in winter. For me, Provence is perpetually sunny and it just doesn’t work under dreary clouds. Go back home clouds.

Another surprise was the amount of lavender in the Drome Valley, the region above Provence. It was remarkably less touristy and more agricultural. The hilltop villages there rivaled those of Provence and while most of Provence’s lavender hadn’t bloomed yet, all of those in Drome already had, and some plots were already harvested in late June.

So it definitely doesn’t come as a surprise that lavender was incorporated into EVERYTHING. I’m talking lavender ice cream, lavender honey, lavender tea, lavender soap, and of course, lavender macarons. The macarons really spoke to my heart. I knew I had to make some as soon as I got home when I got my hands on some lavender for cooking at Les Baux.

The problem with a lot of florally flavored foods (if that’s what you call them…) is that they can easily start to resemble soap more than food when it’s too fragrant, and you definitely have to be careful with lavender. If you’re unsure how strong you prefer the lavender, use less than you think you would need and if the flavor is too light, add more next time. It’s better to end up with macarons with a hint of lavender than lavender soap macarons.

Lavender Macarons

Makes ~15 macarons

1 batch macaron shells, recipe here

purple food coloring (I used gel)

50 g chopped white chocolate, preferably Valrhona

100 g heavy cream, split 50/50

1 teaspoon lavender

1. Follow the instructions to make the macaron shells. When whipping the meringue, add in the purple food coloring until you get a lavender shade of purple.

2. For the filling, bring up 50 g of heavy cream to almost a boil in a saucepan with the lavender flowers. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the cream infuse for 20 minutes.

3. After 20 minutes, strain the lavender out and bring the temperature of the cream back up to almost a boil.

4. Pour the hot cream directly over the white chocolate in a small bowl. Let it sit for thirty seconds. Slowly, mix the the white chocolate and the cream together until it forms a smooth ganache.

5. Cover up the ganache, and let it cool until room temperature.

6. In a separate bowl, start beating the other 50 g of heavy cream. Continue until the heavy cream reaches the same consistency as the room temperature ganache. Slowly pour in the ganache and continue beating until the mixture thickens to the point where the beaters are leaving distinct tracks. Be very careful not to over beat the cream, as it’ll thicken up much faster than meringue. This won’t be as stiff as whipped cream and will still be a little gloopy, but don’t worry. Stick the bowl into the fridge for 3-4 hours until the ganache is thick enough to pipe and hold it’s shape.

7. Be careful to not warm the ganache up too much when piping with your hand. As soon as you’re done, stick the macarons back into the fridge and let it refrigerate at least over night. Keep in mind that because there’s a lot of heavy cream, these macarons will be temperature sensitive.

Day Two: Ketchup Macarons

With my slight obsession with macarons, you didn’t think I would pass on an opportunity to make some crazy macarons, did you? Of course not. 

Image

I first saw the recipe for these ketchup macarons on David Lebovitz’s blog a couple years ago, and I was intrigued. He said that it was Pierre Herme’s recipe, and Pierre Herme is basically my hero. No joke. Pierre Herme has never failed me thus far, and I decided to put utmost faith in his capabilities by going ahead and making this. Because honestly – it sounded disgusting. And David Lebovitz didn’t even sound like he really enjoyed them, either. 

I have nothing against ketchup. In fact, I quite enjoy my ketchup on a hot dog, or dipping my fries in them. Replacing a buttercream or ganache filling with the same amount of ketchup was seriously pushing my boundaries however. My biggest fear was the possibility of hating ketchup afterwards. A couple months ago, my friend and I decided to do the Chubby Bunny challenge (a game where you try to stuff as many marshmallows in your mouth as you can, whilst saying “chubby bunny” after each one) on the last day of english class. Let’s just say, I haven’t had a marshmallow since. If you couldn’t tell, I hold food grudges. And this fact makes me nervous, because since I already dislike mustard, what else am I going to put on my hot dogs if I can no longer handle the taste of ketchup? What a travesty…

Image

But I soon got over myself and I made them. On the outside, they looked harmless. You could mistake them for maybe strawberry macarons, with a jam filling. Looks are deceiving though. I took a little bite, and I swear, I started feeling dizzy. My dad had the same reaction, but strangely, my mom was not so adverse to it. She thought it was better than she expected (which were probably at barely edible level). It’s not that it was incredibly gross, it was just really not good. The pickles also really didn’t help the situation. I refused to take another bite, but the friend who ate all the truffles almost ate three whole ones. She didn’t particularly like them either, though. 

Ranking: 3/10 (I feel like a Dancing with the Stars judge) 

Ketchup Macarons (Adapted from Pierre Herme’s Macarons)

Follow the recipe on Foolproof Macarons: The How-to Guide for the shells. When beating the meringue, add 7-8 drops of red food coloring. 

Ketchup filling:

40 g Heinz Ketchup

1 teaspoon finely diced pickles

2 tablespoons water

3 g powdered gelatin

1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Microwave it for 10-15 seconds to dissolve the gelatin in the water. Stir to remove any lumps.

2. Spoon some of the ketchup into the gelatin, and mix well. Don’t add the gelatin into the ketchup, as it might lump up. 

3. Add the pickles. Let the gelatin set a little in the refrigerator first for about 15 minutes or so. Pipe onto the shells, and immediately return to the fridge to let it finish setting up. Do not let it sit out at room temperature before it has harden because the ketchup mixture is quite wet. 

 

Giving Macarons as Gifts

Whoever said senior year was awesome completely lied. I’ve been unfortunately forced to neglect updating, thanks to the plethora of work. However, since it’s Thanksgiving and I owe my teachers some gifts for writing my letters of recommendation, I decided to make macarons with my newly found time. Macarons look and taste great, are expensive to buy, and stand out from the sea of brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Since I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with macarons, these were just excuses to dedicating an entire long weekend to making batches upon batches of macarons.

I decided to make four different flavors: dark chocolate, rose, lemon, and pumpkin. I tried to choose a variety of flavors that would satisfy most people, and from the reactions they received, I think I succeeded. Generally, chocolate and lemon are safe flavors to go with, while rose and pumpkin are slightly more risky. With it being Thanksgiving, I thought it appropriate to go with pumpkin; and I went with rose just for fun.

Packaging the macarons was tricky. I went to Michael’s thinking they would have a huge selection of gift boxes, but I ended up finding tons of the patterned take-out containers and not much else. No, giving macarons in a faux take-out box would not do. However, I did end up finding a section with numerous white food containers of various sizes. I had no idea whether the boxes would be the perfect size, because if the macarons were too loose, they would just roll around in the box, effectively ruining the presentation, and if they were squeezed too tightly together, the macarons would just crack and break – not good either. Luckily, the macarons fit perfectly in 4 rows of six. I finished packaging these at around midnight, and did not get an actual picture of the final product (below is a re-creation from miscellaneous macarons I had left over). After placing the macarons into the box (with a side of chocolate truffles), I tied it up with 2 differently colored ribbons with a bow on top. In the card, I glued a gift label on the blank side describing the flavors and fillings of the macarons. Placing all this in a white gift bag, I glued another gift label to the front, indicating to whom the the gift is for. The stuffing, ribbon, and gift label gives color to the otherwise plain white box and bag.

 

Here is the basic recipe for how to make macarons. The different flavor/filling variations are posted below.

Dark Chocolate Macarons

– 95 g of almond/powdered sugar mixture

– 5 g cocoa powder

– 40 g room-temperature egg whites (from 1 large egg)

– 40 g sugar

Follow instructions from previous link, adding the cocoa powder to the almond/powdered sugar mixture.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate (I used Valrhona 61%)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Chop chocolate and place into a bowl. (Every time I used a certain stainless steel mixing bowl, the chocolate would seize, but would never do so in a glass bowl.)

2. In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream until it’s almost boiling (80 C). Pour the heavy cream into the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds.

3. Using a whisk, stir (not beat) until the chocolate mixture is smooth and shiny.

4. Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface so that no skin forms, and let chocolate cool at room temperature (or in the fridge) until the consistency is thick enough to pipe.

When piping the ganache onto the macarons, pipe the outer edge first before filling in the middle. That way, the filling looks round and smooth. Chill macarons over night before eating.

Lemon Macarons

For the macaron shells, follow the basic macaron recipe, except add three drops of yellow food coloring into the meringue. I add it after all the sugar has been added and the meringue is at the soft peak stage.

Lemon Cream Filling (Adapted from Pierre Herme’s Macarons)

50 g lemon juice

60 g sugar

1 egg yolk

30 g room temperature butter, cut into chunks

2 g gelatin

1. Cream the egg yolk and sugar together until pale and thick.

2. Mix lemon juice and mixture in a saucepan, and on low heat, stir until it bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat.

2. Dissolve the gelatin in a little bit of water. Add it to the lemon mixture.

3. Once mixture falls to around 45 C, stir in the butter, until it disappears.

4. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface, and cool 2-3 hours in a fridge.

5. Once it’s consistency is thick enough, pipe onto the macaron shells in the same manner as the chocolate ganache (edge then center).

6. Refrigerate this immediately (otherwise, the macaron shells will absorb all the moisture and soften them). Eat the day after.

Pumpkin Macarons

Follow the basic macaron recipe, but add 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice powder into the almond/sugar mixture. Add orange coloring to the meringue.

Pumpkin Buttercream

4 tablespoons very soft butter

1/4 cup powdered sugar (more if you prefer your buttercream to be sweeter)

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon heavy cream

1. In a mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.

2. Mix the pumpkin puree, spice, and heavy cream together.

3. Slowly beat in the pumpkin puree mixture into the butter. Once incorporated, beat on high until smooth.

This can be used immediately. Fill macaron shells and refrigerate overnight before eating.

Rose Macarons

Follow basic macaron recipe, adding pink coloring to the meringue.

Rose Buttercream (Adapted from Pierre Herme’s Macarons)

6 tablespoons very soft butter

1 egg

1 egg yolk

50 g caster sugar (around 4 tablespoons)

15 g water (around 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon rose syrup

1. In a mixer, beat the egg and egg yolk together until pale and frothy.

2. In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water until 118C.

3. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the sugar by the side of the bowl. Bring the speed up for a little to completely mix.

4. Cream the butter in another bowl (or remove the egg mixture first then, then cream butter in the same bowl). Beat in the egg mixture little by little.

5. Once the egg is fully incorporated into the butter, mix in the rose syrup at the end. Pipe immediately. Yep, you know the drill – refrigerate  overnight before eating!

Feel free to double any of these amounts.

Foolproof Macarons: The How-to Guide

Ever since I did a project on French cuisine, I’ve been obsessed with certain little almond meringue cookies called macarons. Now, I use the term “cookie” loosely because I really have no idea how to categorize these finicky little things. And this obsession was reignited with a fiery passion after trying macarons made by Pierre Herme.

After that moment, I proceeded to waste an obscene amount of egg whites, almonds, and sugar. It wasn’t like I was planning on eating all those calories, so in the trash went each cracked and misshapen batch. 

However, after testing various ratios and temperatures, I’ve finally come up with what I’ve deemed as the perfect macaron recipe, which also happens to be very simple.

Basic Macarons (French Meringue) 

Makes 32 shells (16 macarons)

50 g ground almonds, blanched

50 g confectioners sugar

40 g room-temperature egg whites (around one large egg)

40 g white sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F (This is the ideal temperature for my oven. Because each oven is different, you may want to start at 325 F. I know that my oven is on the cooler side, which is why my temperature is higher than normal, so make adjustments according to your oven.)

1. Sift the almond meal and confectioners sugar together. Set aside.

2. In a pristine mixing bowl, start whisking the egg whites at a high speed.

3. Once it begins foaming, start slowly pouring in the sugar. Continue whisking the egg whites until glossy and medium-stiff peaks appear.

4. Pour in 1/3 of the almond meal/confectioners sugar mixture in and fold it in    thoroughly using a spatula. There’s no need to be extremely gentle at this stage. This step is called the macronnage and it is key to the success of the macarons.

5. Pour the rest of the almond/confectioners sugar mixture into the egg whites and fold it so that everything is incorporated thoroughly. The mixture should become more glossy and it should be able to form ribbons when lifting the spatula. However, there is still more folding to be done. Be more gentle at this stage. The egg whites should not be able to hold their form, and they should slowly sink down until somewhat flattened. When making a ribbon on the surface, the ribbon should sink in and disappear at around 20 seconds.

   

6. Fill a pastry bag with the batter and pipe onto parchment paper or a silpat mat. When piping the macarons, keep the piping tip still while piping to get a round macaron. Swirl the tip on the top to finish piping. If you’re like me and you can’t pipe evenly spaced or sized macarons for your life, a handy-dandy template will do the trick. I used this one from yumarama.com and I’ll never go back again. Print two to fit on either half of the baking pan and lay your parchment on top. Make sure to slide out the paper before baking it! The batter should perfectly fit one pan.

By the time you finish piping a row of macarons, the first macaron you piped in the row should already be almost perfectly settled.

7. Tap the pan to get rid of the air bubbles within the batter. Sometimes, using a toothpick to burst the bubbles at the surface can really help. Let your macarons rest until a skin forms on top. The macarons will become less glossy as the skin forms.

8. Put the macarons in a preheated oven, with an empty pan on the rack below it. Having the double pans lets the macarons rise more evenly, especially if you have an oven with uneven temperatures. If you started at 350 F, turn the temperature down to 325 F at around the 5-6  minute mark. Rotate the pan when you decrease the temperature.

9. The macarons should be done at 12-13 minutes. If the tops don’t move from the feet when nudged, they are done. The macarons should not brown, but slightly overcooking is better than undercooking. The macarons will stick and the feet will shrink if they are undercooked. Once you add the filling and refrigerate it overnight, slightly crunchy macarons as a result from overcooking won’t be a problem. Gently remove the macarons from the parchment and let it cool on a wire rack.

– If your macarons are cracked on top and/or there are no feet, it is probably a mixing problem. You might have over or undermixed during the macaronnage step. Letting it rest (if you haven’t already done so) may also help.

– If the macarons don’t smooth out on their own after you’ve piped them, you’ve undermixed.

– If your feet look like they exploded and have overgrown, decrease your oven temperature. However, if your feet look very small and minimal, increase the temperature. The feet should start to form at around the 4-5 minute mark.

– If the macarons have crooked feet, use the double pan method as the temperature in your oven isn’t equal. Often, the macarons around the edges of each batch come out crooked due to my terribly uneven oven, despite using a double pan.

– Aging your egg whites isn’t really necessary, but having them at room temperature helps a lot. They whip up much faster and easier. Separate your egg whites straight out of the fridge then let the egg whites come to room temperature.

– If your macarons stick to the baking sheet or the feet shrink after coming out of the oven, bake them for a little longer. Each oven is different so baking times and temperatures will differ as well.

– You technically should blanch your almonds but I’m just lazy. The little specks you see are the skin – I call them specks of lazy. Quite fitting, I think. However, if you decided to blanch them, make sure to dry them!