Black Currant Macarons with Mixed Berry White Chocolate Ganache

[Winner of last week's giveaway has been announced and contacted.  Be sure to check out today's giveaway  at the end of this post!]

Before you click away and think to yourself, "Those are some ugly-colored macarons", please let me explain. I'm chuckling to myself as I type just thinking about what I did to get grey macarons - just how did it happen? Well, it all started with a trip to HomeGoods and finding a lovely box of teas in unique varieties such as orange blossom, citrus, lavender, black currant, jasmine and chai.   I thought to myself, now these would make some wonderful macaron flavors!  

When I got home, I began to conjure up grand ideas of incorporating lavender tea into the macaron shells and using some powdered food coloring to create a pretty lavender shade... can you picture it with me?  So, I contently plucked a bag of lavender tea out of the box and cut open the bag to add to the ground almonds and powdered sugar in the food processor.  Then I carefully mixed a dash of red coloring and blue coloring together hoping to make purple... but once I started the "macaronage", the color of the batter became this unappetizing shade of grey! I couldn't understand why until I looked at the box of teas and realized I had picked up the black currant tea and not the lavender!  They were both lavender on the outside - it's just the black currant was slightly darker. oops. hindsight, it probably wouldn't have made a difference because teas usually become dark when steeped in water. It probably wasn't such a great idea to experiment with flavor and colors all at once either. I guess I got a little too ambitious.  It was upsetting at first because I was really excited about trying out the basic macaron recipe and method from fellow Foodbuzz friend, Jill Colonna's Mad About Macarons; hoping for perfect macarons.  But once I saw the lovely feet of the shells rise in the oven; and tasted them sans filling, I forgot all about appearances! Jill's recipe is pretty perfect - I've tried a handful of other recipes and normally I don't care for the taste of the shells alone but the ratio of ground almonds to powdered sugar in her recipe compared to others really made a difference to me.  Plus, I could even taste my accidental black currant flavor.  Sure, it didn't look pleasing but it tasted absolutely amazing paired with some mixed berry white chocolate ganache... 

I will not publish the macaron recipe here as I encourage you to get your own copy of Mad About Macarons - it's very well worth the $10.  There are about 40 recipes, including some savory ones such as Thai Green Curry (can't wait to try that one!) as well as recipes to use up all the egg yolks you accumulate from making macarons.  Jill's "macaronage" method is also rather different and even unconventional compared to others, which is probably the secret to her success! I will definitely report back again after making another batch using this method.  

As for the ganache, it is a recipe from Tartlette's macaron tutorial - I  called mine "mixed berry" because I didn't have enough raspberry jam that the recipe called for so I added in some blackberry jam.

{Please visit Urban Spice Emporium}
Yes, it's another giveaway...sharing the love in February!  Today's giveaway is sponsored by Etsy seller, Urban Spice Emporium - "...your source for all-natural and/or organic herb & spice blends – herb bags – dry mixes – extracts – infused oils & vinegars. We offer the highest quality products and artisan blends prepared with the utmost care. Herbs and spices are purchased from suppliers who take pride in making sure their products are processed with guaranteed reliability and consistent quality."

What caught my eye about this shop is that their products are natural and organic, and...their cute bottles and jars - you can tell they put care into the packaging.  

To enter for a chance to win a 2 oz. bottle of pure vanilla extract (made with organically grown vanilla beans) from Urban Spice Emporium, please do the following: 

1.) Check out the Urban Spice Emporium Etsy shop, then leave a comment below letting me know which spice/herbs/oils/extract you'd like to add to your collection.  (or simply leave a comment below saying you'd like to enter - the giveaway is for the vanilla extract - sorry for any confusion!)

2.) Subscribe to the sweets by sillianah feed OR follow me on Twitter for an extra entry - please let me know in the comments if you have done this so I can count your entry twice.  

3.) Enter by 10pm EST, Tuesday, February 15th - don't forget to leave a link to your blog or email so I can contact you! Thanks! ONE winner* will be drawn using the Random Integer Generator and announced on this post, which will be updated next Wednesday, 2/16.  

* Sorry, this giveaway is only open to U.S. residents.  Thanks for understanding. 

:: UPDATED 2/16 :: And the winner is... Rachel from Mother's Mementos

Congrats! I will be contacting you shortly. Thanks to everyone who entered! 

If you'd like to know how I assigned numbers to entries, please feel free to email me. Thanks.

Phyllis, at Urban Spice Emporium, was so kind to set up a special discount code just for sweets by sillianah readers - use code: FEB2011GVWY1 for 25% off your purchase!  Bakers, we all know how pricey vanilla extract can be - so, why not stock up? 

Disclaimer/Disclosure: I have not yet tried any of the products from Urban Spice Emporium - sponsor was selected based on feedback and ratings given by Etsy customers.  All sponsors for giveaways have freely supplied products in exchange for a feature on my blog - no compensation has been received by me or any third party for this mutual exchange.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me Thanks.