Monday, October 5, 2009

Macarons au Citron

Baking a dessert or pastry is often time consuming. There's never one step, one bowl, or one ingredient. So why do some people eat dessert in haste, as if you could just swallow the whole thing down without giving a second thought to all the ingredients you're tasting at once?

Obviously, when you're hungry and a yummy looking donut / muffin / cookie--I'll stop there, though I could pretty much include anything--is at arm's length, it's pretty easy to just go ahead and eat without thinking about anything other than the buttery goodness.

A true macaron, however, should never ever be eaten with haste. When you dig your teeth into a macaron, the top should be crunchy, with the underside of the top (that sure isn't clear) conveying a smooth almond taste. The inside of the macaron, depending on the flavor, is creamy or fruity, but always complementing the tops.

The macaron au citron, or lemon macaron (but you had that figured out), is no exception. In fact, it's always been my favorite. When you bite into it, you get the subtle tang of delicious lemons paired with the intense and smooth creaminess of the crème au citron, or lemon curd. It's an explosion of flavor in a dessert so éphémère you wish you could have hundreds more so the taste lasts longer.

Now, eating macarons is one thing. But making them yourself? You watch the oven while the tops are baking, hoping the "collerette" (the little frilly thing around them) suddenly appears. The collerette is a sure sign of good things to come, and seeing them definitely put a smile on my first-timer face. Making good macarons takes time, motivation, and an empty stomach when they're finally ready. You won't eat one or two. No way, you spent all day making them, so at least have five or six as a sort of payback.

Also, make sure everyone who has a taste goes on and on about how good they are. After all that work in the kitchen, basking in some kind of praise is like taking a long bath. Or having as many macarons as you could possibly want.

Macaron Citron by Pierre Hermé
makes approx. 72 macarons

Ingredients (sorry about the ingredients in grams, but there are some great Internet converters out there!)

for macaron tops:
300g almond powder
300g confectioner's sugar
110g "liquified" egg whites (placed in a bowl and put in the fridge for at least 72 hours before use)
0,5g golden yellow food coloring
10g lemon yellow food coloring
300g granulated sugar
75g mineral water
110g "liquified" egg whites

for lemon curd:
225g eggs
240g granulated sugar
8g Menton lemon zest (Menton lemons are impossible to find in the US, use organic lemons instead)
160g fresh lemon juice
350g high-quality butter
100g almond powder

- A day prior to making the macarons, prepare lemon curd. Rince and dry lemons before grating them. Rub zest and granulated sugar together with both hands.

- Mix lemon juice, zest/sugar, and eggs together in a bowl. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Beat until mixture is up to 83-84°C. Let it come back down to 60°C, and add butter cut into pieces. Beat until curd is smooth, and beat with a stand mixer for another 10 minutes.

- Pour curd in a large, shallow dish. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the curd. Store in fridge.

-The next day, sift confectioner's sugar and almond powder together. Add food coloring to the first bowl of "liquified" egg whites and mix. Pour onto the sugar-almond mixture, without mixing them together.

- Bring water and sugar to a boil, 118°C. When the syrup reaches 115°C, start beating second batch of egg whites with a stand mixer. Pour syrup onto the whites (which should be at soft peak stage by now), continue beating and wait until mixture is down to 50°C before incorporating it into the sugar/almonds mixture.

- Pipe mixture onto a parchment paper-covered baking sheet, making round shapes approx. 3,5cm in diameter. Space them approximately 2cm apart from one another.

- Tap baking sheet on kitchen counter, and let macaron tops crust for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Bake tops for 12 minutes, opening oven door twice. After removing them from the oven, place parchment paper on counter or table.

- Mix lemon curd with the remaining almond powder. Pipe onto half of the macaron tops, covering them with the remaining tops.

- Place macarons in the fridge for 24 hours, bringing them back to room temperature for 2 hours before eating.

I seriously recommend getting Pierre Hermé's book on macarons: it has a great step-by-step of how to make them perfect, and following all the instructions apparently pays off! You can get it here, but I couldn't find it in English--maybe it hasn't been translated yet?

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claudia said...

they look fantastic!

Unknown said...

Your macarons look so yummy that's amazing, I wanna make the same ones !!!! (Plus lemon ones are my favorite too ^___^)