FRESH! Mint and Lavender Simple Syrup

The Halifax Food Bloggers (find us on Facebook or Pinterest!) are doing a monthly “challenge,” whereby we all make or sample some foods based on a theme and then blog about it.


This month’s theme is FRESH!

I couldn’t think of anything fresher than mint.  Which is pretty darn fresh.  So, I guess I hit that nail on the head, no?


I also recently picked up some culinary lavender from my local Farmer’s Market, along with a bag of fresh (fresh!) mint, so I decided to make this simple syrup.  I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it with tonic water in a tasty, refreshing (fresh again!  get it?) drink as spring springs outside my windows.


Here’s what you need:

2 cups water

2 cups white sugar

1/4 cup dried lavender flowers

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn

Here’s what you do:

Combine all the ingredients in a pot over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved – this takes about 2 minutes.  Don’t let the mixture boil!

Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool before using a strainer and/or cheesecloth to strain out the lavender flowers and mint.

Serve mixed with sparkling water, over ice cream, as pancake syrup…the list of possibilities is endless!


Recipe courtesy of

Chocolate Mint Macarons

Chocolate Mint Macarons

I admit to being pretty intimidated by the prospect of making French macarons.  I’d heard some horror stories.  But sometimes, those challenges are just the sort of thing I like to take on in the kitchen.  Thus, macarons made it on to my Food Bucket List.


Yes, I have a food bucket list.  It accompanies my general bucket list for life, but houses visions of lofty croquembouche, souffle that doesn’t deflate, and rabbit that is so delicious it doesn’t immediately invoke images of my childhood pet.

And so:  the macarons.  I had heard that Martha Stewart had a pretty no-fail recipe, so that’s what I went with here.  Unwilling to make just plain macarons for the sake of focusing on technique, I decided a little cocoa powder and mint extract would create a great flavour combination.  (p.s.:  I now have a growing list of possible macaron flavours…erring on the side of adventurous flavour profiles, shall we say.  Stay tuned for those…including recipes for the matcha macarons with vanilla buttercream and the cinnamon dusted vanilla macarons with chai buttercream that I made for a work “do” last week).  Also, I used a really great buttercream from my favourite food blog, Annie’s Eats.  It’s so light and fluffy and not too sweet!

These macarons worked out perfectly for me, albeit perhaps they look a little rustic, as I like to say.  Maybe not totally gorgeous, but really really delicious, light and crisp on the outside and a little chewy on the inside.  I hope you enjoy making these – they’re not as stressful as I thought they’d be!


My “rustic” macaron

Here’s what you need:

For the macarons –

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 cup almond flour (I used ground almonds from Bulk Barn)

3 tbsp. cocoa powder

2 large egg whites, room temperature

Pinch of cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

For the buttercream filling –

See recipe here, and add a few drops of mint extract and green gel food colouring to achieve desired colour

Here’s what you do:

For the macarons – 

Place the icing sugar, ground almond and cocoa powder in a food processor and whiz until combined.  (the original recipe says you should now sift the mixture two times.  This is possibly where my rustic-ness came in:  I didn’t sift.  I’m dangerous like that).

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Whisk the whites with a stand mixer or electric beaters until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sugar (the regular kind, not the icing sugar).  Continue to whisk at high speed until stiff peaks form.  Add the icing sugar/almond flour mixture to the whites and fold together until the mixture is incorporated.

Transfer the macaron batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large tip and pipe rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheet (about 1″ apart).  Tap the bottom of the sheet on the counter to release trapped air.  Let the piped cookies stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, so that their surfaces begin to dry a little.  After the 15 minutes, reduce your oven temperature to 325F and bake, one sheet at a time and rotating halfway through, until the macarons are crisp and firm (about ten minutes).  After each batch, increase your oven temperature back to 375F, allow to re-heat for 5 minutes and reduce to 325F before putting the next batch in.


The macarons drying out before baking




Let the macarons cool for a couple of minutes and then remove them from the parchment so they don’t stick.

Macaron recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart; Buttercream courtesy of Annie’s Eats