Today is my only child’s 21st birthday, her golden birthday. I have created an amazing birthday cake for her, and I promised her I would not post anything about her cake until after her birthday. Her birthday began at 12:01 am today, with me running into her room, jumping on her bed and wishing her happy birthday, and decorating the house with banners, cards, and gifts. We next spent the day waiting in a 2 hour line to change her driver license to an adult license..the dmv people were wildly excited for her. I will be preparing her favorite dinner, and than she will go off with her friends to celebrate.
Macarons are Sydney’s favorite pastry, though I can not place 22 candles in a macaron (one for good luck). Besides a special cake I prepare will have an array of different flavored macarons for her to have and share.
Prepare your mise en place.
Divide half the egg whites and set aside.
Place the almonds, powdered sugar, Lavender powder, vanilla powder, and food coloring in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
Sift the tant pour tant (almond flour, Lavender powder, vanilla powder, and icing sugar) and set a side.
In a small pot over low heat, combine sugar, vanilla skins, and water. Swirl the pot over the burner to dissolve the sugar completely. Do not stir. Increase the heat and boil to a softball stage (235 to 240 degrees F/ 113 to 116 degrees C). Use a candy thermometer for accuracy. Wash down the inside wall of the pot with a wet pastry brush. This will help prevent sugar crystals from forming around the sides, falling in and causing a chain reaction.
Meanwhile, prepare your meringue.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the other half of eggs whites and egg white powder on medium low speed until foamy. Add the lavender essence or syrup, increase the speed to medium, and beat until soft peaks and add vanilla seeds, and begin to slowly add super fine sugar to the egg whites. Whisk egg whites to medium firm.
With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over fluffed egg whites. Beat until the egg whites are stiff, shiny, and glossy. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. The meringue should resizable a whipped cream texture, as my daughter says.
Take the bowl with your tant pour tant (almond mixture) and add the reserved half of egg whites.
Add a third of the meringue to the tant pour tant, give it a quick fold to break some of the air, keep folding till the almond mixture is mixed into the meringue, and then fold another third of the meringue into the batter, continue to vigorously fold till there are no white streaks. Now add the last third of meringue to the batter fold till thick, shiny and ribbons fall from the spatula. Fold the batter carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself and resembles shiny cake batter. There is no magic, I am not going to tell you that the batter should look like magma, I doubt you have ever seen it up close, I know I haven’t!
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto silicone mats lined baking sheets or parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Let the macarons sit out for about 1 hour to make sure the shells are hard. A well-made macaron features a crinkly “foot” on the bottom of each shell (look at the above diagram for a reference). Let the piped batter rest for 30 to 60 minutes, and then rap the sheets on a tabletop to help them set properly. And stack two baking sheets together, so the delicate cookies are sitting atop a double- or even triple-thick baking pan.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F/ 149 degrees C.
Right before placing the macarons in the oven reduce the heat to 280 degrees F/ 138 degrees C.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.
Bake the macarons for 5 minutes, then quickly open the oven door, turn the pan, and close the oven. Bake them for another 5 minutes and open and close the oven again. Continue to bake the macarons until the tops are rounded and firm and a craggy ridge, the foot, has formed around the base, about 5 minutes (check the macarons after a couple minutes, as the baking time will vary by oven).
Sydney and are heading to Jaxs for oysters and a martini!