Funny story, well, not that funny. I don't like traditional tea. I think it has something to do with the fact that when I was a little kid the only thing my mom seemed to give me to drink when I was thirsty, hot weather, cold weather, morning, afternoon, night, was tea. It really is the only thing I can remember drinking as a kid. I probably also drank juice (well, I hope I did!) but seriously, I just remember being made to drink hot tea in hot weather to help quench my thirst. It didn't work. So I don't like tea. Makes sense right?
Then why on earth have I made a tea flavoured macaron?
I'm not sure where the inspiration came from to make an Earl Grey flavoured macaron, I mean, tea is the last thing on my list of flavour ideas, but for whatever reason this idea got planted a while ago and I hadn't been able to forget about it.
Actually, this is not the first time I've used Earl Grey, I did a "Blue Rinse" Tiramisu which I flavoured with Earl Grey and lavender, and even though the idea to make that was purely as a joke (I hope I'm not the only one who might make a dish purely for the comedy) it actually surprised me and was delicious.
So with one other forray with Earl Grey tea already successful, I thought I'd give my macaron idea a go. And if I didn't like it, at least hubby would. (After all, I used his Earl Grey tea for this experiment).
As I do with most of my recipes, I did a quick search to see if others have also done something similar, and if so, how they did or didn't like it, etc. I was quite surprised that I didn't find any other Earl Grey and Lemon combination macarons.
Even though I'm not a tea drinker, I know that a slice of lemon in your Earl Grey is a popular way of enjoying it. Instead I found macarons combining Earl Grey and caramel, chocolate or honey (honey makes sense) but no lemon. Maybe I just need to search a little more, it must be out there somewhere.
And if not, well, I'll pretend that this combination is my inspired idea alone.
Just kidding, but it's nice to think that it could be an original macaron flavour ;)
As I've done before, I flavoured the actual macaron with the tea. It's a brilliant way to flavour the shell. I've done it with berry tea, even liquorice tea. It's as simple as grinding the tea to as fine a powder as you can then adding it to the dry ingredients. Although you don't need all the tea to be super fine, so don't get overly enthused about making it into a powder. In fact, I actually used a tea that had whole leaves and cute little flowers in the bags (gotta love Tea Pigs) and just ground them as best as I could with my pestle and mortar.
After sieving the tea with the rest of the ingredients, whatever tea leaves were still a little big, I ground a little more and just threw them in with everything else. I like the little speckles the bigger bits make on the shells.
The lemon was also easy to add, but I did this in the filling.
I'm a very lazy macaron filling maker. If I'm going to a lot of effort, like Christmas gifts, then I'll make a Swiss Meringue to use as a filling, but most of the time I try use a filling that's either already done for me (think Nutella!) or easy to make. Ganache is my favourite, not only is it incredibly easy to make, it's also just so darn good. Silky, smooth, creamy, sweet. And when you use white chocolate ganache, you can flavour it almost any way you like.
I simply added some lemon zest to the chocolate before combining it with the hot cream. It worked beautifully! The lemon in the ganache was so beautifully fragrant, and just from a little bit of lemon rind.
I was worried about the lemon overpowering the Earl Grey so the ganache was only lightly lemony. I also decided to fill the macarons with a little less filling than I normally do, both because white chocolate is quite sweet and can easily make a macaron so sweet it makes your teeth shake in fear, and because of the lemon to tea ratio. In any case, I personally don't think macarons need filling as thick as the macaron shell itself, but that's up to your own preferences.
However, even after being cautious with the lemon, I found with my first batch that the Earl Grey seemed to get weaker the next day, which is unusual because normally the maturing brings out the flavours even more. But it could have been that the lemon developed even more than the tea did. There was an instant hit of the lemon on first bite, then a lingering aftertaste of the fragrant bergamot from the tea. Very pleasant, I must say, but I wanted a little more of the tea so I upped the amount of tea I added.
Unfortunately the strength of flavour isn't an exact science as it's all dependant on the brands one gets wherever they are, so it could be that the Tea Pigs I used was a little more subtle than another brand of tea. You'll have to play around with it, but I'd start with 1 tea bag per 1 egg white, then increase it from there if you find it's too subtle.
As you may have figured by now, I thought this was a very successful flavour combination, even as a non tea drinker :)
Earl Grey Macarons
90g Egg Whites
145g Confectioners/Icing Sugar
70g Granulated Sugar
115g Almond Meal/Ground Almonds
3 Earl Grey Tea Bags
Black, purple or blue paste colouring (Optional) - I used a combination of black and blue
- Grind the contents of the tea bags until mostly fine
- Process the confectioners sugar, almond meal & tea until the almond meal is fine then sift into a medium bowl to remove any large bits of tea or nuts.
- Tip: If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
- Whisk the egg whites with the granulated sugar in a clean dry bowl until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks.
- If colouring, whisk in small amounts of paste colouring until desired shade is reached
- Tip: If you turn the bowl upside down they should make no move to fall out
- Tip: Don't worry about your meringue being a bit dry or over beaten, against popular belief that macarons are a pain to make, they're actually fairly forgiving
- Fold half of the almond flour mixture into the meringue, starting quite vigorously then folding more carefully.
- Add the remaining almond meal mixture and fold in carefully.
- Tip: The macronage process is probably the only part of making macarons that determines if they'll be a fail or success. A good way to tell if the batter is ready is when you fold it onto itself, it should blend back into itself in about 30seconds. Rather under mix than over mix!
- Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip. You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off.
- Tip: It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
- Pipe 1 1/2 inch mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Tip: I don't recommend using a silicon mat, I had trouble taking the macarons off each time I used it.
- Once piped, bang the sheet down on a counter top a couple times to flatten any mounds and bring up air bubbles, also to settle the almond meal to the bottom giving smooth tops.
- (Optional) Sprinkle the shells with a bit of Earl Grey tea
- Leave the unbaked macarons out to dry, between 30min - 1 1/2 hours.
- Tip: If you have a fan assisted oven you can dry them in less time by just having the fan turned on with the macarons in the oven.
- While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 140°C (120°C Fan Assisted)
- Once dry, bake for 15-22mins depending on their size
- Tip: They're ready when you push them and they move very slightly on their feet or if you can easily peel one off the baking tray
- Cool on a rack before removing from the parchment, 15-30mins
- (Optional) If not sprinkled with Earl Grey tea earlier, paint each shell with a brushstroke of edible silver lustre paint
- Tip: You can buy little pots of already made edible silver paint, or simply mix silver lustre dust with a bit of vodka, the alcohol will evaporate leaving the lustre dust behind
- Pipe or spoon with filling and sandwich
Lemon White Chocolate Ganache
200g Good Quality White Chocolate
100ml Double Cream
2tsp Lemon Zest
- Grate or finely chop the white chocolate, place in a heat resistant bowl
- Add the lemon zest to the chocolate
- Pour cream into a saucepan and scald over medium high heat
- Tip: The edges will start to bubble, remove from heat immediately
- Pour the cream over the chocolate and lemon zest
- Slowly stir with a fork until the chocolate is melted and completely mixed with the cream
- Leave at room temperature to cool and thicken
- Tip: You can speed up the thickening process by putting the ganache in the fridge, but make sure you stir it occasionally and remove from the fridge when it's the desired consistency
- Spoon ganache into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip
- Pipe onto half of the macaron shells
- Sandwich with other half of macaron shells
This macaron recipe is adapted from Syrup And Tang
I found a great post busting the myths of macaron making, I highly recommend you read it. The only step that I still do is to dry the macarons, lets just say it's like lucky socks, I can't make my macarons without that step for whatever reason. But as for the rest of the myths? Compeletely busted. I use fresh eggs and don't care what the weather is. Macaron Myths
Store your macarons in an airtight container at room temperature.
You can also store in an airtight container in the fridge, but leave macarons out at room temp for a while before eating.
Best eaten after a day or two, this lets the flavours develop.