We’re breaking away from the traditional little French macarons with this recipe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for these guys. The flavor combinations – endless! However, as with all great things, the mold must be broken. This recipe does just that. Dainty and delicate macaron cookies, layered between homemade lavender and coconut butter cream, drizzled with white chocolate, and garnished with edible gold pieces and flakes of fresh coconut will leave you in awe at this one-of-a-kind cake.
Creating the Perfect French Macaron
When making French macarons, there are a few tips and tricks that you never, ever, ever (did I say ever?) want to forget. For me, ensuring I follow these creates the perfect cookie. Every. Single. Time.
First, make sure you have a kitchen scale to weigh out your ingredients in grams. This is a must! Simply spooning ingredients into a measuring cup won’t cut it with macarons. The perfect measurement of ingredients is necessary in nailing these delights.
The second tip is to age your egg whites. Yes, “set it (in the fridge) and forget it.” You should ideally let them age for at least 24 hours. Place them in a cup or container, wrap it in some saran wrap with a few holes in the top, and place on a shelf. Remember to bring them back to room temperature when it’s time to bake, though.
Third, clean your bowl! Yes, you heard me right. Before you dive in and whip up this scrumptious Lavender Coconut French Macaron Cake, you need to ensure your mixing bowl is free from any oil or residue. To do this, simply pour a tablespoon or so of vinegar (white or apple cider) into the bottom of the bowl and take a couple of paper towels to rub it around and clean it well. Any extra will evaporate quickly, and don’t worry; the lingering smell won’t affect your cookie in the least. (If you’re anything like me, you won’t even mind it. My parents tell me I would hide in the cupboards as a child, smelling jugs of vinegar we used for canning pickles. Hmm... I was an interesting child!)
When it comes to the almond flour, the finer the better, and I’m not talking about the most expensive brand. You will want to make sure your almond flour is ground very finely – as finely as possible so that you don’t get chunks in your cookie that will bubble to the top and affect that gorgeous smooth and shiny layer these cookies acquire when they’re “resting” after piping.
It’s all about folding! This critical step is called “macaronage.” When it’s time to combine the ingredients, you must fold them together, gently going under the mixture before coming out the other side and folding it gently unto itself. Your goal is to keep this (initially) airy mixture from losing its “bubbles” inside. I will forewarn you, your arm will become tired, and you may question your sanity on making this finicky dessert, but I promise you all will be well worth it when you’re resting your tired arm and enjoying a slice of French macaron cake with a cup of hot tea later.
When your mixture has hit the perfect consistency, you will be able to scoop up the batter and draw figure eights with it with no clumps, or “breaks,” in the making of your eight. You don’t want to under-mix or you’ll have an airy cookie, and over-mixing will cause your cookie to fall flat. Once your mixture has a smooth, effortless flow to it, then you know it’s time to pipe.
The last crucial tip after piping is to allow your macaron cookies to “rest.” This resting period allows for the feet to develop on your cookies. Once your cookies are piped, you will want to place them on the counter for 30 minutes to let a “skin” develop. Do not place them under a fan as this will affect how they form as they develop their skin. If you’re worried your home is too humid, you may place your macarons under your stove fan so that it sucks some of the air away from them and keeps it moving. You will know when your “skin” has developed as you will be able to lightly touch the surface of the cookie and no batter will stick to your finger.
Tried and True Tea Combinations
This Lavender and Coconut French Macaron Cake would not do without its companion, tea. Let me introduce you to my three favorite pairings with this cake.
First, we have Coconut A La Crème. This tea is a delightful blend of fresh coconut pieces and invigorating black tea. Try it with some cream for a bit of silkiness. It’s yummy!
Our Coconut Macaron Dessert Tea was practically made for this recipe. It creates quite the delightful pairing with coconut and a perfect hint of sweetness.
My favorite tea to accompany this dessert: Delightful Morning. This tea is the most divine Earl Grey with lavender buds and bergamot essential oil. Even the scent is intoxicating! It draws out the lavender essence beautifully.
A Dollop of History
The macaron first appeared in Europe in the Middle Ages. This macaron was different from what we call a French macaron today. Initially, it was a contraption of almonds, egg whites, and sugar – soft on the inside with a crunch on the outside. The French macaron we all know and love as two macaron cookies sandwiched in between butter cream was created in the French capitol in the 1830s. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 21st century that confectioners began flavor variations, from the cookie to the butter cream. Even now, there are ongoing efforts to create a new breed of salty and savory inspirations. Sound like your “cup of tea,” anyone?
Lavender Coconut French Macaron Cake
- 195 grams almond flour
- 195 grams powdered sugar
- 135 grams castor sugar (or extra fine granulated sugar)
- 150 grams egg whites, aged
- 3/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Gel food coloring (I used Violet)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3 and 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/2 teaspoon lavender extract
Preheat oven to 320°F. Complete prep work by wiping your bowl clean, preparing your parchment paper or silicone mat, and printing templates (I used four 5-inch round circles for this cake).
Set aged egg whites out on the counter until they reach room temperature.
Sift almond flour and powdered sugar together thoroughly, removing any large pieces but ensuring you compensate by adding ingredients back in if too much is removed.
Whip egg whites with your mixing bowl and whisk attachment until foamy, then add cream of tartar. Once the beater starts leaving tracks in the egg whites, add castor sugar 1/3 at time.
Once the sugar has been fully incorporated, but before reaching stiff peaks, add your gel food color. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. You will know you have accomplished this when you can remove your whisk and the meringue has pointed peaks.
Pour a third of the sifted almond flour and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites. Gently fold into the egg whites with the folding technique we discussed above. Go under the mixture before coming out the other side and folding it gently into itself, making sure not to “deflate” your mixture.
Stop folding once the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and the consistency is “lava”-like. Make sure it passes the figure eight test!
Using a basic round tip and pastry bag, pipe the batter into the center of the circle of your template. Do not pipe beyond the edges of the template as the batter will spread a fair amount before settling. (Place templates under parchment paper or silicone mat to use as your guide, but remove them once piped.)
Rap the tray several times on the counter to remove trapped air bubbles. Before the batter dries, I use a toothpick to pop any remaining bubbles that have come to the surface.
Now it’s time to let the cookie rest until your “skin” has developed.
Once your skin has developed (approximately 30 minutes) and you are able to gently touch the cookie without it sticking, it’s time to bake. Make sure you only bake one tray at a time, on the middle shelf.
Bake 12-14 minutes. To test for doneness, the feet should not push back, and the shell should not be wobbly.
Let cool completely. This is a crucial step to ensure you can remove them later and they stay intact and don’t crack. If you’re able, let them sit for several hours.
Beat together butter and shortening with your whisk attachment until light and fluffy.
Add in powdered sugar a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the heavy cream and the extracts. Beat for 1-2 minutes on high speed.
Assembling Your Macaron Cake:
Gently remove one of your macaron cookies by taking a long, smooth-edged knife and gently running it underneath the cookie until it lifts off. Carefully place in the center of your cake stand. Note: Be extremely careful working with these as they crack easily and are very delicate.
Pipe your buttercream frosting around the entire cookie, starting on the outside and working your way inward. Feel free to use a decorative tip of your choice.
Gently layer your second cookie and repeat the process of piping the frosting. You can repeat with one more layer if you wish.
Place your final cookie on top.
The final steps of decoration are up to you; the possibilities are endless. If you’re anything like me, this dessert deserves the very best. Bon appétit!