I still remember the first time I tasted these macarons, I thought I was having a transformation, an awakening, a eureka moment. I found the recipe in an amazingly beautiful and inspirational book called Wild Sweets by the Canadian couple Cindy and Dominique Duby, who later authored Wild Sweets Chocolate. Their book contains many interesting recipes of so called savory desserts, which incorporate ingredients normally used in savory dishes, not to mention the beautiful photos. With titles such as Concord Grapes Clafoutis with Sweet Savoy Cabbage and Warm Grapes, or Red Curry Squash Flan with Gnocchi and Coconut Curry Foam, you can't help but salivate.
Wet and shiny macarons
The trick to these macarons is to substitute some of the almond meal with finely ground sunflower seeds and add some ginseng powder. The best part...they are gluten and dairy free, so I can eat as many as I want, which is not a problem as they are so delicious.
Dry and ready to be baked macarons
I don't like to sandwich them with anything since the delicate taste of ginseng really hits you at the end and a filling too sweet would most likely mask it. If you can't find ginseng powder, which is kind of expensive, you can easily omit it.
Sunflower and Ginseng Macarons
adapted from Wild Sweets
4 dozen cookies
225 gr/8.1 oz powder sugar, sifted
50 gr/1.9 oz sunflower seeds
72 gr/2.7 oz whole almonds
5 ml/1 teaspoon pure ginseng powder
100 gr/3.6 oz egg whites (about three large)
25 gr/0.9 oz granulated sugar
Grind powder sugar, seeds, and almonds in a food processor. Set aside. Beat egg whites until foamy, then start adding the granulated sugar slowly until egg whites form soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped whites into the sugar mixture until throughly combined. Transfer into a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip. Pipe into 2.5 cm (1") mounds on a silicone mat or a parchment paper lined baking pan. Let the macarons dry at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to an hour before baking (the book doesn't include this step and it is a mistake as they need the top to dry for the typical macarons foot to form). Bake at 180C (350F) until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Store in an air tight container.