Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with soft buttercream in between, these chamomile macarons are subtly flavored with organic chamomile and fresh vanilla beans.
I will come straight out and confess that the inspiration for these delicate little cookies came from a lovely post I found on Pinterest. The crafty lady behind A Cookie Named Desire posted a gorgeous recipe for Chamomile Macarons with Caramelized Honey Buttercream and I got very excited about it. I was trying to think of a new way to put chamomile to use, and there it was! Her brilliant idea to add dried chamomile to an italian meringue that would be folded into macarons caught me right away. Plus, this recipe is based on a Bouchon Bakery recipe, so I knew it was going to be good.
This all came out of an attempt to find a fun way to showcase the use of herbs in baking. A group of awesome local herbalists here in southern Oregon were holding a fundraiser for a new free herbal clinic that they will be opening soon in Ashland. I was asked to donate some goodies for the event, which, of course, was herb-themed. That worked perfectly for me, because I love to incorporate herbs and wild flowers into my baking. And just in time for both the chamomile and elderflowers to start blooming.
To add to the fun, I got to play with some packaging to make it event-worthy. Most of my work has consisted of creating custom cakes for big parties and weddings, so this was a new way to serve treats. I needed something that was easy to grab-and-go, as well as looked professional and clean. I also wanted to make something that would make people excited about herbs!
Chamomile is a subtle flavor, so it’s best not to overpower it with other strong flavors. A berry buttercream would be another great idea to fill these with (and colorful, to boot!), but the amount of chamomile would need to be increased so it still has room to shine. I decided to keep it simple here since the focus of this event was on the herbs, so I chose to use an italian meringue buttercream infused with fresh vanilla beans. There are several ways to make buttercream and italian is my favorite – it is only subtly sweet, and beautifully silky and smooth.
Adding the chamomile to the sugar syrup for these cookies turned the batter just a hint of ivory. Macarons are commonly died with food coloring to make eye-catching treats, but I like to keep things natural and I liked how this color turned out. Feel free to experiment as you wish. You could try using other herbs in this recipe as well. I’m hoping to try a few myself in the future. Lavender, rosemary, rose… ? The combinations for the cookies and the filling is just about limitless, so have fun!
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these chamomile macarons as much as I enjoyed making them.
If you love using chamomile, check out this recipe for Raspberry Chamomile Teacakes.
Chamomile Macarons with Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, these chamomile macarons are subtly flavored with organic chamomile and fresh vanilla bean buttercream
- 212 grams almond flour
- 200 grams powdered sugar
- 5 egg whites divided
- 236 grams granulated sugar
- 158 grams water
- 1 1/2 tbsp dried chamomile buds
vanilla bean buttercream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 8 ounces unsalted butter soft
- 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
for the chamomile macarons:
Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. For evenly sized cookies, trace small circles onto the parchment about 1 inch apart. I used an inverted shot glass, about 2" in diameter. Turn parchment over.
In food processor, pulse almond meal a few times to make it as fine as possible. Sift with powdered sugar into a large bowl. Make a well in the almond flour mixture and add 2 of the egg whites; combine with a spatula.
Place the other 3 egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the syrup. Once it nears 200 F, start whisking the egg whites on medium speed. You want them to form soft peaks. If they get to soft peaks before your syrup is ready, turn mixer to low to keep whites moving. Once syrup has reached soft ball stage (around 240 F), remove from heat. Allow to cool just enough that bubbles subside, then slowly drizzle hot syrup into egg whites with speed on medium-low. Increase speed slightly and continue to whip a few minutes, until eggs form glossy, stiff peaks and cool a bit.
Fold about a third of this meringue into the almond meal mixture with a spatula, incorporating fully. Continue to add meringue a little at a time until batter is at "ribbon" stage - it will fold over on itself, leaving a ribbon that disappears after a few seconds. You may not need all the meringue.
Scoop batter into a piping bag with a straight tip and pipe onto your parchment template. Preheat oven to 350 F and allow piped cookies to dry slightly while your oven warms. Bake until shell forms on top of macarons and a "foot" appears on the bottom - about 10-13 minutes. You should be able to gently lift the cookies off the parchment as soon as they are baked. Allow to cool completely.
vanilla bean buttercream
for the buttercream:
Place sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add just enough water to saturate sugar and blend lightly. Place over medium-high heat on the stove.
Add egg whites to clean stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin whipping eggs once your syrup reaches around 200 F. Once egg whites reach soft peaks and syrup reaches soft ball stage (around 240 F), remove syrup from heat. Allow bubbles to subside, then slowly drizzle hot syrup into eggs, whisking on medium speed. Continue to whip a few minutes, until mixture has cooled slightly and has glossy, stiff peaks. Begin adding soft butter, about a tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Mixture may separate a bit, but it will come back together. Continue whisking until smooth. Add vanilla and scraped vanilla bean.
Flip half of cooled macarons over and pipe buttercream on the bottoms, leaving a little space around the edges. Sandwich with remaining macarons, pressing lightly to adhere buttercream. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
Macarons will develop more flavor and chewiness as they sit. They will be even better the next day, so this is a great recipe to make ahead. Store in fridge.