Today is the 17th of March celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, a public holiday commemorating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and more specifically the Irish patron saint Patrick. The color green is associated with this day, and the phrase “the wearing of the green” indicates wearing a green three-leaved shamrock on one’s clothing to represent the Holy Trinity.
I wanted to make something incorporating green for the occasion, but I wanted it to be something creative and exciting (in other words, not just green vegetables). Irish food includes hearty recipes like corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, soda bread, Irish stew, Crubeens (pig’s feet), and black pudding (pig’s blood), just to name a few. When I lived in the UK, I had many opportunities to try their different style of preparing these ingredients that are in common with Chinese cuisine. Being the adventurous foodie that I am, I enjoyed it immensely, but for the purpose of St. Patricks’ Day, I picture how to incorporate the color green.
I was initially going to make green tea crème brulée until I tasted this amazing creamed honey at the organic supermarket. It was then that I decided to make green tea macarons. Some of you may be thinking that pictured below is a macaroon and not a macaron. So what’s the difference between a macaron and a macaroon?
Both maracon and macaroon start off with egg whites and sugar to make a stiff meringue as the base. The macaron is a French style of cookie (hence French macaron as per the title of my recipe) made typically with almond meal and egg whites that are sandwiched between a creamy filling. As a result they have a pleasant airy, melt-in-your mouth texture. Due to its worldwide popularity, there are many variations from the traditional Paris macaron, and now they available in a huge variety of colors and flavors from many countries.
The macaroon is a Southern style cookie that is a flourless, light baked confection resembling a small cake or meringue-like cookie. Since they do not contain flour, they are often served at Passover celebrations. The original macaroons consisted largely of ground almonds and its name comes from the Italian word maccarone, meaning “paste”. Many regional varieties of macaroons exist, although most recipes call for egg whites with ground almonds and sometimes nuts. Eventually, coconut was added to the ground almonds or replaced the ground almonds altogether. The coconut macaroon is the most common variety.
That said, the two have frequently been used interchangeably anyway! Personally, I say, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet!” What’s more important than its name is its appearance and taste. So enjoy my recipe! They turned out so delicious and irresistible!
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 cup almond meal, like Bob’s Red Mill:
1 green tea bag
3/4 tsp hot water
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1 tbsp brown sugar
Green food coloring (optional)
Honey cream filling
125 g butter, softened (about 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tbsp creamed honey
Large pinch salt
Line 3 completely flat baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Be sure the parchment paper is cut the right size so that it lays flat on the baking sheet.
Tip: It’s a good idea to draw 4 cm circles on the parchment paper with a pencil ahead of time. That way, when you pipe the batter onto the baking sheets, you can use the circles as a guide. Just be sure to turn the parchment paper over so that the pencil is facing downwards before piping the batter.
Sift the icing sugar and almond meal together into a large bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.
Cut open the tea bag and empty the green tea leaves into a small mixing bowl, and then add the 3/4 tsp hot water. Mix to combine and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and beat on high for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and beat on high for 5 minutes.
Add the green tea mixture and a few drops of green food coloring (if using) and beat on high for another 2 to 3 minutes or until soft peaks form. (If you do not have green food coloring, combine yellow and blue food coloring until you get the desirable shade of green).
When you lift the beater from the bowl, the egg whites should hold a straight peak that doesn’t curl at the tip.
Fold the egg white mixture into the almond meal mixture in 2 batches until smooth.
Put the batter into a piping bag fitted with the Ateco #11 round tip (7 mm diameter). Pipe the batter onto the prepared sheets of parchment paper in rounds that are about 4 cm/1.6 inches in diameter and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, spaced at least 1 inch apart.
Hold the piping bag perpendicular to the baking sheet as you pipe and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Tap the baking sheets against the counter several times to flatten the mounds and pop any large air bubbles. Let rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes until the batter mounds no longer feel sticky.
Test the surface of the batter by touching it very lightly with your finger. If it still sticks to your finger, let it rest for a few minutes more before baking, to ensure that the cookies form a crisp, delicate top when baked. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325oF with one oven rack on the top 1/3 of the oven, and the other rack on the bottom 1/3 of the oven.
At the same time, make the honey cream filling. Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the 1/2 cup brown sugar and beat for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the almond meal, creamed honey, and salt, and then beat just until combined. Place the filling in a piping bag to use immediately.
Put 2 of the cookies sheets in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 300oF. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the sheets and swap their positions. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cookies are very pale golden on the bottom.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on the baking sheets. Meanwhile, bake the third baking sheet as described.
When all the cookies have cooled completely, carefully remove them from the parchment paper and pair them by size. Using a piping bag with the same tip used to pipe the cookies, pipe the honey cream filling onto half the cookies, leaving a narrow unfilled border. You want to pipe just enough of the filling that it spreads to the edge when topped with the other cookie.
Top the filled halves with their paired cookie.
Serve the cookies the same day (recommended).
To store: Put the macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Warm to room temperature for 30 minutes before eating.