Monday, August 11, 2014

Lemon Macarons with Lemon Curd

A few weeks ago, I found myself in a somewhat high pressure cooking situation. I had volunteered to make macarons for my friend's bridal shower. I mean, I suggested that we have macarons and then I said I would make them. No one coerced me into doing this. I decided to make a citron macaron - citron is French for lemon - and I needed these to be perfect tasting and perfect looking because they were for a party and strangers would be looking at them and eating them.

Well, these lemon macarons didn't turn out perfectly (no feet!), which was such a shame. Thankfully, they were really yummy. I think the reason for the imperfect look and perfect taste is because I used fresh lemon zest. The zest added lots of delicious flavor but it was too oily, which made the batter fall flat. Next time I try this recipe, I'll zest a lemon a day or two ahead and let it dry out a little. That being said, the shells were still really, really good. And isn't taste the most important part?

Luckily, everyone enjoyed these cuties, so it was great! Be warned that macarons are incredibly finicky little buggers. I talk extensively about them in my first ever macaron post, if you'd like a little history and a slightly more detailed set of instructions.
Ingredients:
lemon curd
½ stick butter (¼ cup)
⅔ cup sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon (¼ cup)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

lemon macaron shells [yields 3 dozen 1-inch macaron sandwiches]
66 g egg whites (about 2)
33 g caster sugar
73 g almond flour
130 g icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest, dried at least 24 hours
pinch cream of tartar
pinch salt
+ yellow food coloring

Let's start with the curd!

Start by zesting and juicing the lemon.
In a bowl, cream together the sugar, butter, and lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Then, add in the lemon juice and vanilla and give it one last whizz. Don't freak out if it looks curdled. It will all come together.
Add the curd to a saucepan and heat over a low flame, stirring continuously until the curd thickens. The butter will sort of congeal and it will look a bit gross for a while but it'll come together and get lovely and thick so don't freak out!
Tada! Set the curd aside to cool. This curd can be used for lemon meringue pies, it can be spread on toast with a little jam, it's awesome.
Now, let's talk about the macaron shells.
Remember, it's v. important to weigh your ingredients when you're making macarons. Start by sifting together the almond flour and icing sugar.
Next, whip up the egg whites to soft peaks and add in the cream of tartar and salt. Whisk that in and then add in the caster sugar and whip to stiff peaks. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down and the meringue will hold.
Add in the food coloring, zest, almond flour, and icing sugar and carefully fold to combine the ingredients. Stop folding when the batter falls in a heavy ribbon and disappears into the bowl in 8 to 10 seconds. This delicate process of beating some of the air out of the batter is called "macaronage."
Pipe the batter onto a silpat-lined baking sheet. I like to use a template when I'm piping so all of the macarons are the same size. I made tiny 1" macarons this time.
Give the tray a good whack to release any air bubbles and then bake in a 300F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the macarons are set. The tops will go from shiny to dull and that's how you'll know they're ready.
Let the macarons cool before peeling them off the sheet pans and filling them with a little lemon curd.
These are sticky and lemony and sweet and tart and delicious. The shells are super sweet with fragrant lemon flavor and the filling is really tart and fresh.
Here's the recipe page:

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