British Mother’s Day and American Mother’s Day are two different days – (mine comes in May, while the British one is earlier in the year.) So it’s hard to orientate my internal clock as to when exactly Mother’s Day is, but this year, I’m lucky enough to be spending some time at home with my wonderful and amazing mum. Beardy Mum and I have decided to do something fun and we’ve signed up for the first Wiltons course: I’m really looking forward to spending time doing that together – and I will definitely report all about it! But in honour of Mother’s Day, today I’m featuring a guest post from no other than my wonderful Beardy Mum.
I was lucky enough to visit with beardybaker just before Mother‘s Day and enjoying baking with some of her cookbooks, including Cooking with Flowers. Edible flowers come and go so quickly and the purple violets are beautiful, delicate harbingers of warm weather. Since I have violets growing in my herb garden, I was intrigued by a recipe that would use them. The only sweets I’ve made previously with violets is to put them on shortbread cookies, since shortbread is cooked at a low temperature. I had never thought about using violets for meringues or macarons which cook at lower temperatures. With the great ideas from Miche Bacher, I decided to make something special for my mom and sister who were visiting for Mother‘s Day.
Violet Macarons (adapted from Cooking with Flowers)
For the candied violets –
About 24 violets
2 Tbsp sugar (ground to be superfine in a food processor)
1 egg white
For the buttercream frosting –
6 Tbsp. butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 c. shortening
~3/4 lb. confectioners’ sugar
2-3 Tbsp of milk, as needed to get to the right consistency
Additional 20 violets – chopped
For the macarons –
1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups finely ground blanched almonds (or whole almonds ground in a food processor)
3 egg whites (aged are preferable)
2 Tbsp sugar
Whisk the egg whites a little, but you don’t want too much froth, as bubbles don’t hold sugar very well. Paint each flower with egg white and sprinkle heavily with sugar. Spread the flowers individually on waxed paper (I used parchment, but I think waxed paper would be better). Let them dry at least overnight.
Mix up buttercream frosting to a texture that would be good for cupcakes. Carefully mix the chopped flowers into the frosting. You can add some flavoring, but since the flowers are a very delicate flavor, they may be overpowered.
Process almonds if they are not already ground, and then the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until it the mix is powdery and consistent throughout.
In a large bowl beat the egg whites until they begin to stiffen. Add the sugar slowly, over the course of a minute. Egg whites will get fairly stiff and moving the mixer should give you medium-ly stiff peaks after 3-5 minutes. Dip your fingers into the egg whites and rub the mixture between your thumb and finger – you should not feel the granular sugar if it is mixed properly.
Gently, with a spatula, mix the almond mixture into the egg whites, trying not to overwork the batter, but also minimizing loose almond crumbs (that will stop up your pastry bag).
Scoop batter into a pastry bag and pipe 1 to 1.5 inch circles onto parchment paper, laid across 1 or 2 baking sheets. After piping all of the circles, place a candied violet on half of the circles and let them all sit for an hour at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Cook for about 20 minutes, until they get their “feet” or are slightly crusty on the bottom. Let them rest for 30 minutes after they come out of the oven. At this time you can fill the macarons with buttercream (violet half goes on top) or put them in an airtight container to freeze for 3-4 weeks.
Once filled, the macarons should be eaten within 8-12 hours.