Seasonal Taste-Sensation of the Summer: Spicy-Herby Apricot and Walnut Macarons

“Five tender apricots in a blue bowl, a brief and exact promise of things to come.” Frances Mayes

Apricots are true treats of the summer season. The origin of the apricot is disputed and unsettled. It was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long that it is often thought to have originated there. The apricots’ outstanding appearance, their distinctive taste, their silky texture and seductive fragrance nowadays is wide spread in the world, loved by chefs and consumers alike.  Apricots have a complex sweet-tart flavor that marries well to a wide variety of other tastes, spices, herbs and flavourings. Fresh apricots are a treasure to eat, however, they reach their full potential when cooked — roasted, poached, sauteed or incorporated into baked goods. Warming them brings both their sweetness and tartness to the forefront. Apricots can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, but their crowning glory is really any dish that is sweet.

Apricots are closely related to almonds, their pits can be used to create an almond-like flavoring, therefore it should come as no surprise that almonds are a strong flavor complement to apricots. Macarons, obviously host apricots perfectly. The shells house all the warm spices – as cardamoms, cinnamon and ginger enhance the decadent flavour of apricots – whilst the apricot filling can include the refreshing herbs that counterbalance the spices and sweetness of the shells. Many herbs work well with apricots, providing a woodsy, herbaceous note to balance the fruit’s sweet-tart nature. The herbs’aromatic pungency works well with the apricot flavour. The floral note of lavender is a natural match for apricot’s sweetness, whilst rosemary’s resinous notes play off both the sweet and tart aspects of apricots. Citrus flavors – lemon, orange and lime in particular – also bring out apricots’ sweetness while complementing its tart notes at the same time. The pairing aids the taste buds in appreciating characters of each ingredient that might not appear when used on their own.

“One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.” Thomas Fuller

4 egg whites (around 160 g), at room temperature
200 g granulated sugar
65 g almond meal
65 g ground walnut
280 g confectioners sugar
Apricot or tangerine gel food colouring
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
10-15 apricots (depending on size)
A handful of fresh basil
Zest of one orange
4 tbsp honey

Sieve the almond meal, ground walnut, spices and icing sugar together, set aside. Beat the egg whites over medium-high speed until they begin to froth, then add granulated sugar, gradually. Continue beating the mixture until eggs whites are glossy and stiff peaks form, adding the gel food colouring in the last minute. Add half of the dry mixture to the egg whites, fold slowly until all ingredients are well combined, then repeat with the other half of the dry mixture. It should slowly dripping off the spatula back into the bowl and easily absorbing back into the batter at the bottom. Mix in Transfer batter into a piping bags, than pipe onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. When all the batter is piped out, firmly tap the baking sheet onto a hard surface to remove air bubbles. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and bake the macarons for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, lift parchment paper with macarons onto a wire rack and let cool completely. To make the filling puree the apricot and basil, mix with orange zest and honey and cook on medium heat, stirring until the apricot mixture thickens, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary.Let it cool and stick together macaron shell pairs with a small portion of filling.

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