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Friday, September 16, 2011

Lemon Macarons

Until this spring I don't think I had ever tried a macaron. I don't mean the chew coconut mound macaroons. I mean French Macarons. Very different.

Check out the cute "feet" on these little guys!

My friend Karen went to Paris and brought back a box of macarons from the famous shop in Paris called Laduree. Laduree specializes in macarons. And wow, they are yummy!

French macarons are two almond cookies with some sort of yummy filling. Many times they're made in unique flavors such as lavender, rose, green tea, raspberry, etc. I wasn't quite that daring, but I thought lemon would be very nice. I searched around awhile and found a recipe.

Now, after a quick google of macarons I discovered that they're not the easiest thing to make. Every website had a detailed and extensive list of tips and tricks to get them to turn out right. The almonds had to be ground just right, sometimes dried in the oven. The egg whites had to be aged; some say on the counter overnight, other said a few days in the fridge. Some call for only powered sugar, other for granulated that is pulsed with the almonds. Most talked about drying the batter after pipping for an hour. And on and on like this. Needless to say, I was undeterred.

I found a recipe that looked fairly moderate and held the plethora of tricks in my mind as I went along. I never completely follow a recipe, even when baking tricky items, and this was no exception. Below I've given the recipe for the macaroons I found. My changes are in red.

And yes, you will need a good kitchen scale. No macaron recipe is in volume.

Meyer Lemon Macarons
slightly modified from Tartelette

110g blanched almonds (or buy almond flour. I would do that next time)
200g powdered sugar
1 meyer lemon, grated peel of (I used lemon extract, about 1/4 tsp)
100g egg whites, aged for day and brought to room temperature (I put a bowl of ~3 egg whites on the counter overnight)
50g sugar
2 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
lemon curd (I found a nice lemon curd near the jams and jellies at the grocery store)

Macarons: (If not using almond flour...) Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely ground (Sift with a find mesh. Then sift again and re-weigh). Add powdered sugar and lemon zest. Pulse until well-blended (I mixed with a wisk. I'm a rebel like that). In a small bowl, mix the sugar and food coloring together until well blended (i.e the sugar turns yellow). Whip the egg whites until foamy and gradually (or just dump it in.) add the granulated sugar while whipping until a shiny meringue forms (but not too dry). Add the almond mixture to the meringue and quickly incorporate the mixture into the meringue while taking care not to overbeat. You want to achieve a batter that flows and “ribbons” for at least 5 seconds (aka settles without bumps). Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a large plain piping tip (Ateco 809 or 807(?, I used a large star tip because I didn't have a large plain tip)) and pipe small rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (Trust me, use the parchment or a silpat. I didn't and I had to wire mine off and about half broke). The rounds should be about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and at least an inch apart. Let the macarons sit for an hour to develop a hard shell. Preheat oven to 300°F and bake for 8-10 minutes (10 minutes for me). Remove from oven and let cool. Remove from parchment.

Assembly: Pipe a small daub of lemon curd (a little goes a long way) onto a macaron and sandwich with a second macaron. Makes about 2 dozen.

Sticky little bastards wouldn't come off!

Finished product!

In the end, they came out alright. I'd say a 7 out of 10. They were really yummy, had a nice crispy shell and chewy interior, good feet, and the lemon curd was great. But you can see the almond pieces in the shell (it should be smooth), I didn't fold the batter long enough (notice the peaks in the picture) and they stuck like crazy to the baking sheet.

But I didn't get any complaints on their taste. And in the end, that's what counts!

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