by Leigh Goff
In my newest young adult fantasy, Bewitching Hannah, Hannah’s Aunt J promises sixteen-year-old Hannah a sweet surprise. The young witch hopes the surprise will be her favorite sugary treat—Lavender Honey Macarons. As she describes them, “They were the most amazing little delights; a melt-in-your mouth combination of whipped egg whites, honey, and French lavender...”
LAVENDER MACARONS with HONEY BUTTERCREAM
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp. dried lavender buds
¾ cup almond meal
2 egg whites
3 tbsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 300° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Blend the confectioner’s sugar, lavender, and almond meal in a food processor until fine, then whisk everything into a large bowl.
Use an electric mixer to beat egg whites and sugar together until you create a stiff meringue in a medium-sized bowl. This can take up to 10 minutes. Scrape any meringue clinging to the beaters back into the bowl.
Add the almond meal mixture into the bowl all at once.
Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites and also rub the meringue against the side of the bowl to knock the air out of it. This is not a mixture combining that you need to baby. You want to deflate the egg whites don’t be gentle. By the time it’s ready, its consistency will be runny, closer to pancake batter than cake batter.
Fill a pastry bag with the batter. Use a pastry bag with a coupler or with a tip. Pipe your shells onto the parchment-paper lined baking sheets, about 1 inch. Space them 1 inch apart.
When you’re done piping, lift the pan and whack it down hard against your counter twice. Rotate the pan 90 degrees and repeat. You might see tiny air bubbles appear on the top of the rounds, a good sign. Do the same with the other pan. Slide the pans into the oven and bake about 15 minutes, at which point the shells should be able to be cleanly picked off the parchment paper.
Let the shells come to room temperature, then fill your macarons with the honey buttercream (recipe below). Use a pastry bag or a spoon.
Honey Butter Cream
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. honey
Beat the butter using the whisk attachment for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar, and whisk until well incorporated.
Pour in the honey. Beat until well mixed.
Makes about 40 shells, or 20 macarons
Adapted from Brave Tart
The imposing entrance segued into the main part of the old family chapel. Shadows flickered across the white walls as candlelight streamed down from an ornate iron chandelier cradling clear-colored hurricanes. Angelic sculptures hung between the arched windows and beneath the cloud-painted ceiling that Michelangelo himself would have envied, four wooden pews graced each side of the aisle.
I tiptoed farther in and spotted another black-lined white envelope on the altar. I was definitely in the right place.
My fingers trembled as I traced the letters that formed my name. This was way beyond ordinary, but why and—more importantly—who?
A hint of the Shadow’s amber and woods scent mixed with the faint candle smoke of the chapel. “No. Way.” I spun around ready to stomp right out of there.
In that moment, a heavy gaze fell on me and the air felt charged with electricity. I searched right and left, seeing no one. “W? Whoever you are, show yourself.”
“This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.” His potent voice reverberated off the walls and seemed to come from everywhere, including the inside of my head.
I locked my wandering gaze on the loft above the entrance where I spotted his silhouette. “Was leaving me in a burning wreck the hardest thing you ever had to do? Was it?” I raised my volume. “Who are you? Why did you leave me for dead?”
His intake of breath was audible. “I would never. I mean. I didn’t want to do that. I don’t.”
“Oh, lucky me.” I stuck my hands on my hips and tapped an impatient foot on the floor. “If you don’t want to finish me off, then you lured me here to do what, exactly?”
“To help you. I want to help you.”
“Ha!” The sarcastic laugh burst out before I could stop it. “You’ve done a bang up job inspiring my confidence and trust in that department.”
He simmered in silence for a moment. “What do I have to do to inspire you to follow my directions?”
Following someone else’s directions was definitely not my strength. I grimaced, but curiosity got the better of me. “What do you want?”
“You read the note.”
His desire to remain in the shadows was increasingly irritating. “I consider myself a very smart girl, so when a guy who left me in a burning car tells me he wants to help me take on a different deadly problem, I have to wonder if he’s not setting me up to fend for myself again. What’s your motive?”
I dropped my eyes to the envelope, turning it to and fro.
“Emme Blackstone is a mutual enemy and means us both harm.” A tinge of anger laced his tone.
The anger, I understood. After all, we were talking about Emme, but there was also a hint of sadness that intrigued me further. “Why do you think Emme means you harm?”
“It’s inevitable—because of what I am.”
What was he besides completely contemptible?
“It’s in her blood and I believe it’s in her destiny to wreak havoc, especially against someone who can challenge her in talent like you can.”
I dropped my hands to my sides, still clasping the enveloping. “Whoa. Like me? You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. How could you? I’ve been gone for the last year.”
A chortle caught in his throat. “What’s a year when you come from a bloodline with hundreds of years of history? A history that’s written down and available to certain people with the right—pedigree.”
Confused, I creased my brow as I continued to stare at his silhouette. “Have you been cyber-stalking me on Ancestry.com or something?”
“Hardly.” There was disdain in his voice as if he considered cyber-stalking to be worse than leaving a girl to die.
“Look, whatever you think you know about my family, I’m not like them. I’m not talented, and I don’t want to challenge Emme. I just want to live a normal life. Normal.” My voice escalated. “Do you hear me all the way up there?”
He huffed. “Normal? You don’t get to pretend to be normal when you’re not. It doesn’t work like that. Not in Annapolis. Someone always knows. Someone always unravels your secrets.”
I thought of the Witch’s Grave. I pictured the women’s slender figures dangling from sturdy, gnarled branches. Their tragic endings proved what I already knew. Magic only brought suffering and death. “You make it sound like I don’t have a choice. I’m telling you I do, and I won’t be a part of this.” I stomped my foot hard on the floor.
He shifted from the shadows into a dim ray of light, seething. “You read the note and you know Emme won’t stop. You need my help.”
I glared, trying desperately to make out the details of his face. “I don’t need anything from you.”
“You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a part of this. You know you are or you wouldn’t have come here. However, if that’s how you feel then you should leave.” The cold in his voice crystallized.
My pulse escalated. “Yup. That’s how I feel. And I’m only leaving because that’s what I want to do, not because you suggested it. Bye.” I marched to the door and wrapped my hand around the knob. I yanked it open. From the moment I’d first laid eyes on him, he’d been nothing but trouble. Horrible, awful trouble. However, as much as I hated to think it, he knew about me and the other witches in town. He was full of answers—answers I needed. I shut the door and turned back around. “How do you know all this about Emme and me?”
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Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.
Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch's Ring which is set in Annapolis.
Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.