Changing the clock with verbena macarons and hot tea

In the last couple of weeks in and around Paris we’ve had beautifully sunny Autumnal scenes, but ever since the clocks went back this weekend it has turned to rain and well, just dreich scenes.

Dreich is a real Scottish word and there’s no other word quite like it which sums up the damp, dingy, dreary days that become shorter between now and the festive season for us poor souls in the Northern Hemisphere.  So don’t you think this calls us to pick ourselves up with pots of fragrant tea and Parisian macarons?

This cheery view from the kitchen window has been motivating. The diminishing leaves have had such brilliant greens and yellows, it’s as if someone had switched on a spotlight against the dark skies. You’ve guessed where I’m headed? Total inspiration for a double whammy of bright yellow lemon and green verbena macarons.

My verbena plant is surprisingly tougher in the cold than I thought. I love rubbing my fingers over a leaf and releasing its powerful lemony scent. In France we tend to use verbena leaves as a herbal infusion. Yes, I said these healthy words on a decadent macaron site. It could be worse: I could tell you what some of my French friends call herbal infusions, but this is a respectable site 🙂

One of the first changes I made when I came to Paris nearly (ah-hem) 20 years ago, was to do what the French did. I discovered that the French are so sensitive about drinking caffeinated drinks after dinner. In Scotland, I would be drinking mugs of coffee without batting an eyelid (no pun intended).

Everyone around me was drinking this trendy verveine (verbena) which has a heady lemony fragrance. As a student I started with the regular supermarket sachets until I discovered the dried leaves at my mother-in-law’s local market in Provence. I never looked back – until I recently discovered that I could simply get the plant. Once you try the real fresh leaves, there is no comparison. They are scrumptious infused in cream to make verbena ice-cream or crème brûlées.

The creamy zest of the lemon and verbena together is a real pick-me-up. I had to put some away in the freezer before the whole lot disappeared. That way when feeling healthy but decadent I can quickly defrost a few verbena-lemon macarons and serve with a pot of freshly infused verveine to finish off dinner. It gives a whole new meaning to sweet dreams.

In fitting with the dreich part and final browning leaves left hanging, I couldn’t resist making chocolate-caramel macarons to bring some golden warmth into the kitchen and to accompany a pot of hot Assam tea.

Early last December we had our first petit voile de neige.  I wonder if we’re going to have the same snowy treats this year?  So far, so good.

almond macarons in the snow

As this was one of my very first blog posts and nobody saw this (I mean nobody), I’m reposting this for you now.  That way, it may be a year old but at least it’s getting seen this time.

Unfortunately subscribers received the previous post before updating this afternoon. Apologies!  I’m no use at this technical part of the blog! Thanks for reading my previous blog posts and commenting. It means so much and makes it all feel worthwhile.

Jill xo

65 replies
  1. Lisa McDonnell
    Lisa McDonnell says:

    How fun to read one of your first posts! You were a good blogger at the get go!! These look fabulous as usual… and I love your tea and macaron pairings. We don’t do “dreich” down here in sunny Florida;)

  2. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Yes, glad you reposted! What a lovely thought to bake perfect macs (verbena is lovely but oh what I wouldn’t do for the chocolate-caramel ones!) on a dreary day! Which we have had plenty of!

  3. Manu
    Manu says:

    Such a beautiful post… good thing you reposted it. It surely deserves more attention! You got some great looking macarons in here! The verbena-lemon ones sound fantastic Jill!!!

  4. Elyse @The Cultural Dish
    Elyse @The Cultural Dish says:

    I love your inspiration for the macarons! As always, they are so beautiful and make me crave them so much. I need to try making them more often, but I wish we had a bakery nearby that sold them. There is only one place near me in massachusetts but it is still a bit of a drive 🙁

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Elyse, that’s the whole point – you need to make your own macaron masterpieces.
      I’ve seen what you’re capable of doing and this is a piece of cake in comparison.
      Open you own macaron bakery! J xo

  5. Anne@frommysweetheart
    Anne@frommysweetheart says:

    Jill…I love how you are inspired by the seasons. It was not a dreich day here. As a matter of fact..I, too, was struck by the brilliance of the bright yellow leaves on our trees here in Washington, D.C. I’m glad you reposted the ‘winter white’s’. All of your macarons are gorgeous, as ever!

  6. shaz
    shaz says:

    What a great way to fight off the chill, Jill 😉 I do love the scent of anything lemon-y, must try to get my hands on some fresh verbena. And, as an Aussie, I love the colour of those macarons (green and gold!).

    Stay warm through those dreich days dear.

  7. Parsley Sage
    Parsley Sage says:

    Thank you for reposting this! It’s lovely 🙂 And while I adore the sound of those herbal macarons, I totally lost it when i saw the pick of the chocolate-caramel ones…GOOD LORD, YUM!

  8. Vicki Bensinger
    Vicki Bensinger says:

    You are so creative. These macarons are lovely. I started to make macarons – put the egg whites in the frig for 5 days and got busy doing many other things and totally forgot about them. So had to throw them away. Now I have to start all over. Which macarons are your favorite to make and eat?

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Vicki, that’s a tough one since love so many of them and changes all the time. Love classic rose and orange blossom ones plus the orange, prune & Armignac but today feel some chocolate-exotic fruits coming on. That’s what I love about macarons – no end to creativity and you can do just about anything you want!

  9. Terris@ Free Eats
    Terris@ Free Eats says:

    The weather just turned very cold here and I’m ready for a pick me up! These macarons couldn’t be more cheerful if they tried. Absolutely gorgeous. I’m happy to see that you re-posted too. Sometimes we all need a chance to catch up on everyone’s blogs!

  10. Becky
    Becky says:

    Your Lemon Verbena macrons just jump off of the page, the colors so vibrant. I can just imagine how they taste.

    We are having dreich here in Chicago, and we haven’t even turned our clocks back yet until this weekend.

    Congrats on the Top 9 today!!!

  11. Jen @ Chocotuile
    Jen @ Chocotuile says:

    Stumbled on your blog from Foodbuzz. California’s getting it’s first storm of the season here as well but I have a piping hot mug of green tea next to me to keep me warm 🙂

    Great post! I love lemon verbena and my gardener aunt has been growing it for me every year since I first discovered it. I have a black thumb so I can’t be counted on to have a thriving garden!

    I just made hibiscus macarons, am planning on making mango and lychee macarons tomorrow. Come check it out 🙂

  12. Kim Bee
    Kim Bee says:

    I am so jealous of your wonderful life Jill. I live in Uglyville Canada. I can now live vicariously through you both geographically and in culinary terms as well. I must try making your macarons. I’ve never made them and they intrigue me greatly. Congrats on top 9. Wishing I was sitting there with you having a cup of lemon verbena tea eating some of your remarkable macarons.

  13. Christy
    Christy says:

    I wish you live here! We can’t find any good macaroons around here; and those we can, are exorbitantly priced 🙁
    I love the colors of your macaroons; changing with the weather…just so lovely 😀

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Hi Christy, that’s why I wrote the book so that you can easily just make them yourself. Go for it – you’ll end up opening up your own shop!

  14. thoma
    thoma says:

    very well-written post Jill. you’ve done absolute justice to the richness of verbena. how i wish your photographs were bigger; feed your editor some of those macarons and give him some to be stowed away in the freezer…he may change his mind ;P

    enjoyed this post thoroughly, theme-girl!

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks so much, Thoma. I’m supposed to have the site updated to include bigger photos. It’s all very complicated! Hopefully this will be sorted soon as it’s been going on for months now… Bon weekend xo

  15. Amy
    Amy says:

    Hi Jill! All of the macaroons on this post sound fabulous! I love the colors in the lemon verbena but my mouth is watering when I look at the chocolate caramel macaroons! Impressive as always :)! Hope you have a great weekend!

  16. Jacqueline - The Dusty Baker
    Jacqueline - The Dusty Baker says:

    BEAUTIFUL Jill! I drink lemon verbena tea almost nightly but those macarons make me think more of being on a tropical beach by palm trees drinking something insanely strong and fruity! Maybe I’m already desperate since we’ve had snow in NYC. Can’t wait to see your new creations as the seasons change.

  17. Amalia
    Amalia says:

    Wow, these look gorgeous! the chocolate-caramel macarons
    look so beautiful! And the creamy lemon verbena look fabulous as well. They’re perfect for fall 🙂

  18. Liz
    Liz says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you’ve reposted your first ever blog post. Beautifully written from Day 1. The dreich has hit the midwest US today…cold and rainy…and I’m drinking my tea, but seem to be short on macarons. I need to remedy that once all the other goodies are eaten. Have a great weekend! xo

  19. Professor Vegetable
    Professor Vegetable says:

    I love verbena so much. When I lived at home and had a back yard I would grow it. I wish I could grow it again. I love the idea of using it in macaroons. Assam tea is great! I just drank tea but it was white tea!

  20. janet@fromcupcakestocaviar
    janet@fromcupcakestocaviar says:

    Oh, I LOVE Lemon Verbana! The smell, as you noted, is amazing. I buy a plant every year. I admit I don’t use it for much other than putting sprigs in tea and smelling the leaves like I’m an opium addict lol. I have yet to make macarons even though I have been seeing them for months now as the “it” thing to make but you have me wanting to try making them now!

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Janet, have to admit I do the same with verbena: just stand and sniff. With macarons being “it”, we should come up with scratch and sniff! Haven’t made macarons yet? What are you waiting for? Go for it!

  21. Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen
    Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says:

    Jill, I LOVE your weather report via Macarons. I think it would cheer me up enormously if all the TV stations adopted your approach. The lemon verbena macarons are little nuggets of sunshine. I would be very happy to experience a caramel-chocolate Autumn and the white macarons look light as snowflakes. Lovely post!

  22. Choclette
    Choclette says:

    Absolutely fantastic Jill, I just so love your macaroons and your inspiration. Those lemon verbena macarons are just so stunningly gorgeous. We sadly lost our lemon verbena in the cold winter the year before last and I really miss the tisane – even the dried leaves we made now are all gone. Your dead leaves macarons sound completely scrummy and I’m not quite sure what flavour the white ones were, but I like the wintery theme. Like the way you’ve paired them up with tea too – all very chic 🙂

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks for the lovely words, Choclette. The white ones were plain and simple almond macarons. I managed to keep the verbena plant by putting protective covering on it. Impressed you dried your leaves!

  23. Tina@flourtrader
    Tina@flourtrader says:

    Yes, I know all too well about the nobody thing. I had a private blog with a few close friends and relatives for about a year. I am now listing my last year links on this years posts.
    The lemon verbena macarons do look like a ray of sunshine-especially since I like citrus so much. However the chocolate ones I am sure would be the first to be eaten by most. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Nami | Just One Cookbook
    Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    I always enjoy your seasonal post. You shows the pictures and then boom, macarons inspired by them. The last one is one of your first posts? Wow… amazing photo! I love how you come up with the beautiful and accurate color Jill! I haven’t had macarons for a couple months (maybe 2?)… I got cravings for it all the sudden. Especially fall leaves chocolate caramel sounds nice.

  25. Gina
    Gina says:

    I’m not use to anyone in the tech dept either, lol. I adore lemon verbena, I had a plant but lost it years ago, need to replant it. I have no problem drinking caffeine before bed or throwing back a few cookies either. Have to make more of these lovelies soon. Hope you are having a great week, can’t wait till I can experience fall in France first hand.

  26. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    This is so sweet, Jill – and the macarons. I do love those soft autumn colors. I do grow lemon verbena – just the scent alone makes me heady. (It’s gone.) One year later… things change and stay the same.

  27. Jessica | Oh Cake
    Jessica | Oh Cake says:

    I’m glad you re-posted too. I love the macarons in this post (lemon verbena! I wish I had that plant!) and it makes me think of my dearest friend, who lives near Paris and with whom I used to so enjoy tea and a treat. (I might have to keep those chocolate-caramel macarons for myself tho’!)

  28. Pauline
    Pauline says:

    I LOVE Lemon Verbena, a sherbet lemon in a leaf, yum. Unfortunately my plant succumbed to the snow last year. I also had to look up Verveine too what about the liqueur? Have you had this too? Thanks for educating me again 🙂

  29. FreeSpiritEater
    FreeSpiritEater says:

    This was such a beautiful post! I’m really glad you re-posted for us to see. I love the bright colors of the lemon-verbena macarons and the lovely combination of chocolate and caramel in a macaron. The snow macarons are adorable! Your post just reminded me why I love this time of year. =]

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks so much for the lovely words, especially as I felt funny about reposting but wanted to share. I love it when the sun shines on the leaves, not the rain pelting on them, though!

  30. visda
    visda says:

    It seems you made a great creative use of wonderful fall colors. Love those green and yellow macarons.
    We haven’t changed the clock yet. Coming up this weekend! I am so sleepy when I get up at 6.00 am and it’s totally dark, can’t wait for that hour of sleep.:-)

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment – had no idea that you’ve still to change the clock. Great having the extra hour but don’t understand how just one hour can make you still feel a bit out of sorts. Suddenly we can get the kids to bed without a quarrel 😉

  31. Three-Cookies
    Three-Cookies says:

    Nice, I am craving some macaroons. Its outrageously expensive here in Sweden. In the supermarket I saw a small pack with mini macroons selling for about €9 while in the cafe one tiny one costs €3-4 I think! Crazy!



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