Spring. Let the count down begin. Only two weeks away. Staring out into the early morning landscapes of snow, frost, and ice over the past month has made it seem like winter will never end. However, winter comes every year and every year this is exactly what I say. I know I’ve reached my limit when my eyes crave color and I find myself fantasizing about flowers. Colorful and fragrant. My Instagram feed is full of west coast floral bouquets that are currently feeding my starving soul. Thank you San Francisco and Seattle for giving me hope that all will melt away and life will be born again.
Flowers are so much on my mind, that it has crossed over into an appetite craving. Always a lover of lavender or rose in my pastries, I find myself wanting something more. Something truly dedicated to spring. Soft and delicate, not over-powering, but bright and light. Memories of evening spring-time walks, with the sweet perfume scent of jasmine in the air.
Jasmine is the epitome of spring time. With their blooms developing in late winter, early spring it is a sign that spring is here and warmer days are ahead. Thankfully, jasmine is also beautiful in pastries and chocolate. Subtly is the key and with its fragrant floral aroma, it’s a feast for the senses. I thought Jasmine Apricot macarons would be the perfect way to welcome springtime. They are creamy from the white chocolate and a little tart from the apricot center. Vanilla bean is a classic pairing to apricots and the scent of jasmine and vanilla together are enough to make you eat every one of these macarons in sight. Welcome spring!
Makes about 36 macarons (72 shells)
150g almond flour, ground fine
150g confectioners sugar
55g egg whites, one day old*, room temperature
Gel or powdered food coloring of your choice
55 g egg whites, one day old*, room temperature
150g granulated sugar
Sift together the confectioners sugar and almond flour, in a medium sized bowl. Add the first portion of egg whites, but do not stir.
In a stand-mixer bowl, with a whip attachment, add your second portion of egg whites.
In a small pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil until it reaches 118C. Be careful not to splash any sugar-water on the sides of the pot to prevent crystallization. If you do, use a small pastry brush dipped in cold water to brush down the sides of the pot. When the syrup reaches 110C, simultaneously begin whipping the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks.
When the syrup reaches 118C, gradually, in a steady stream, pour the hot mixture into your whipping egg whites (set your mixer speed to medium-low and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl to keep it from being sprayed on the sides of the bowl by the whip). Turn up your mixer speed to medium-high and allow the meringue to whip and cool down to at least 50C. Meanwhile, combine your first portion of egg whites with the almond flour and confectioners sugar. If using, add your food color now and mix until the desired color is achieved. You will want to go darker with the color since the white meringue will lighten the finished color.
Fold your meringue into the almond-sugar mixture, in three additions. Add your first third, fold it to loosen the almond-sugar mix. No need to be gentle at this stage, as you want to fully incorporate the meringue into it so that it is easier to fold in the remaining meringue. Add your second third, this time folding gently, until you see no white meringue streaks. Add your last third, folding gently, until you see no white meringue streaks. At this point, you may add any additional food coloring that you’d like if you need to adjust the final color.
Now, check the consistency of your macaron batter. You want a glossy batter that resembles slightly runny cake batter. It should flow down nicely and with few breaks from your spatula when you hold it up high over the bowl. When the batter falls into the bowl, it should smoothly flow back into the batter in a matter of seconds. If it does not, simply give it a few more gentle folds and recheck your batter. Slowly, keep doing this until your reach the desired consistency.
Line a large sheet pan, with parchment paper or a Silpat. Prepare a large piping bag, with a small plain round tip, and pour in your macaron batter. Hold the piping bag vertically and begin piping 3/4″ to 1″ round shells onto your sheet pan, spacing them about 1/2″ apart. Once you have piped an entire tray, lift up the tray and rap it lightly on your work surface. This act will remove any air bubbles and help prevent them from bursting in the oven. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow a skin to form on the surface. The batter should not stick to your finger when lightly touched.
Preheat your oven to 163C (325F). Bake for 12 minutes, until the tops are set and don’t wiggle when you gently push them to the side. Remove shells from the oven and slide the parchment or Silpat onto a cool work surface. Allow them to cool completely.
Carefully, remove the shells from their surface and begin pairing the sizes up. They are now ready to be filled.
*Aged egg whites are used in this recipe, in order to allow the whites to liquefy and lose their elasticity (the break down of their albumen protein). They become easier to whip to soft peaks and improve the texture of the macaron. If you do not age you egg whites, do not fret. Go ahead and use your same-day separated whites, at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Pierre Herme, Macarons.
Jasmine White Chocolate Ganache & Apricot Vanilla Bean Confiture
365g white chocolate 33%, high quality, preferably Valrhona or Guittard
156g heavy cream
10g jasmine pearl tea
40g unsalted butter, soft, high quality 82% fat content, preferably Plugra
4 ounces Apricot Vanilla Bean Confiture, Christine Ferber, or any store-bought brand you prefer or homemade*
*If using store-bought or homemade apricot preserves, add 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, and mix until combined.
Melt your white chocolate in small stainless-steel bowl set over a small pot of simmering water (double boiler). Remove from heat when it is just melted. Wipe any water off the bottom or your bowl carefully and do not to allow any water to touch the chocolate or it will seize up.
In a small saucepan, add the cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add tea pearls. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. No longer or it will become bitter.
Strain the steeped cream into a clean bowl and rescale cream back to its original amount. Discard tea pearls.
Pour steeped cream over the melted chocolate and using an immersion blender, combine the two. You may also use a spatula to combine the mixture, starting with small circles in the center and working your way out to the sides of the bowl to create a smooth emulsion. The ganache will thicken, become shiny, and develop a puddinglike consistency. Add the butter and incorporate with the immersion blender or stir in thoroughly.
Allow the ganache to cool and crystallize until the consistency is able to hold its shape, up to two hours or overnight. Place ganache and apricot confiture into separate piping bags, with the tips snipped off. Pipe a ring of ganache around the edge of the macaron shell and then pipe the confiture into the small gap in the center. Place on the paired-up “top” to the macaron, press gently until the filling reaches the edge of the macaron. Continue until all pairs are filled.
Place the filled macarons side by side on a tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving. Remove them from the fridge two hours before serving to be enjoyed at the the ideal temperature.